Include a Chatbot as Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Has this ever happened to you?
Something goes wrong with your phone bill. You don’t want to sit on hold for what feels like hours on end listening to the same elevator music, so you head to their website instead. You notice that they offer a “chat” option. Soon after, you’re talking to a helpful, polite employee who asks you some questions about your problem, then attempts to fix it…
Or maybe you’re browsing online and an item catches your interest, but you have some questions about it. Your curiosity is piqued, but you’re not quite ready to buy yet. Picking up the phone or sending an email might feel like too big of a commitment for such a little question. But then a chat window pops up and offers to answer any questions you might have. Perfect! You’re able to quickly get an answer to your question, and it helps convince you to make the purchase…
Believe it or not, although you may have had a positive customer service experience, it might not have been a human employee that helped you. It might, in fact, have been a chatbot!
Chatbots are Everywhere!
It’s hard to believe it, but we’re standing on the precipice of a customer service revolution. AI technology has been advancing faster and faster in the last few years, dropping in cost to the point where it’s now possible for a medium-sized business to adopt an AI chatbot into their customer service experience.
You can see this all over the customer service landscape. For example, you can now order a pizza from Pizza Hut through a Facebook chatbot. Just start a chat with their bot and your pizza will be on its way to your place in no time. Chatbots can also take care of customer complaints, handling many simple issues by “themselves” and then passing it off to a real person if the problem is beyond their capabilities.
Many of these chatbots are so good at natural language that most customers can’t tell the difference. All a person knows is that they clicked on a website and a helpful little chat window popped up in the lower right-hand corner asking them if they need a hand. Is it a real person or a chatbot? That question is becoming harder and harder to answer as the technology advances.
Types of Chatbots
There are currently two main kinds of chatbots out there: command-based chatbots and AI-based chatbots.
Command-based chatbots are kind of like an interactive FAQ. If you have a question, the chatbot scans your message for keywords, then attempts to match those keywords to pre-written answers. It then “responds” to you with the answer it thinks is most likely to be what you’re looking for. Although these kinds of chatbots are generally cheaper, the experience is less personalized and more limited. You would not, for example, want to use one of these chatbots for heavy troubleshooting or customer services situations because it wouldn’t have the ability to answer the more difficult or nuanced questions.
AI-based chatbots, on the other hand, are currently on the rise. These chatbots are programmed to respond to queries in language so natural that hopefully the customer won’t be able to tell the difference between it and a real person. These sophisticated bots “learn” from the conversations they have, becoming better and better at human interactions. The downside of AI-based chatbots is that sometimes they may be confronted with a confusing question but try to answer anyway, often leading to a nonsensical response. Oops. But they’re definitely improving and compared to just a few years ago you would be amazed by what they can handle.
Improved User Experience
Perhaps the best thing about chatbots is that they can actually help you engage more website users and close more deals by turning those browsers into customers. When someone is visiting your website, something made them curious enough to arrive there in the first place, but your website’s bounce rate will show you that not everyone stays.
A chatbot can help to engage a website visitor and quell any doubts they might have in their minds about the product or service that they’re interested in. By capturing their attention in a casual, non-intrusive way, they make it easy and inviting for potential customers to ask a question before they lose interest and leave.
When working together with your existing website and killer content, a chatbot could be the clincher to improving your sales. They just make the user experience that much more robust, interactive, and friendly, helping to tip users into active buyers. It’s a definite win:win!
More Uses for Chatbots
If your medium-sized business has a few gaps in your customer service experience, with slow response time to emails or only being available during business hours, then a chatbot might be the perfect solution. You can run a chatbot 24/7, allowing it to field questions and queries from your customers whenever they want, no matter what the time. If they need information that a chatbot can’t provide, it can offer to follow up with them during work hours. But for a simple question like, “What times are you open?”, “Where are you located,” or “Is that blouse available in red?”, a chatbot can work wonders.
Chatbots can be an excellent way to save money on customer service as well. Your team is probably well trained in customer service, but they likely have far more important things to do than spend the day answering customers’ questions on the phone and through chat. Hiring a dedicated customer service representative could be cost prohibitive. Buying a chatbot, on the other hand, means that you’ll have an “employee” who works 24/7 for no pay while providing your customers with top-notch service. I don’t need to tell you what a deal that is!
Chatbots for Branding
Although chatbots are primarily thought of as a customer service solution, they can also be a remarkably effective branding and marketing tool.
We all want our employees to always be great brand representatives. Well, a chatbot can make for an almost perfect brand ambassador! They can be programmed to promote specific products or services in conversation with customers, offer discounts, or provide excellent customer service in general. A well-programmed chatbot can actually convert the people it’s conversing with into paying customers, provided that the interaction is smooth and positive.
Another way that chatbots can help your overall marketing efforts is in the way they collect data. Every single conversation a chatbot engages in is logged, giving you access to accumulated customer data, their mood/personality, buying patterns, and more. Plus, this data allows you to customize the chatbot further. If someone asks a question that the chatbot is unable to answer, you can program the chatbot to be able to respond correctly to it in the future.
Finally, in a similar way to how a chatbot can improve customer engagement on your website, they can also improve engagement on your social media channels. Getting back to Pizza Hut, for example, they have a chatbot ready to talk with customers on Facebook 24/7, ready to sell pizza or answer basic questions. Another great example is Lyft who has a Facebook chatbot that enables you to schedule rides. By incorporating functionality like this into your Facebook page, you’ll be offering your customers an awesome social media experience.
There are just so many benefits to integrating a chatbot into your digital marketing practices. From an improved customer service experience to the potential of enhanced marketing, chatbots can bring in new customers and capture more leads. They’re already darn impressive and will only get better in the next few years. This makes it the perfect time to get on board and start to offer your customers the latest in customer service technology.
If you’re looking to integrate a chatbot into your website or Facebook page, we can help! Barker Social offers integrated digital marketing solutions. Get in touch with us today, and we can help you make a chatbot part of your digital marketing strategy. We offer a free marketing consultation, and we’d be thrilled to look at your business and help make some recommendations about what would work best for you.