If youâ€™ve ever wished you had a business assistant who didnâ€™t cost much but took care of time-consuming tasks, good news. You probably can have that, thanks to some big improvements in the way chatbots work.
Chatbots used to be good for answering only the simplest questions but now they can do a lot more. Thanks to advances in chatbot tech, a growing number of chatbot plugins and Facebook Messengerâ€™s chat tools for business, bots can handle several important customer service and marketing tasks for you.
Here are 6 ways a chatbot can make your small business better.
1. Instant Customer Service
Nobody wants to wait for answers to basic questions about your business. With a chatbot, they donâ€™t have to. No matter what time of day people visit your site with questions, and no matter how busy you are, chatbots can take care of those basic Q&As for you.
You can set up your chatbot with a menu of questions and answers relevant to your business and customers. If your chatbot has AI-backed natural language processing capabilities (and some WordPress chatbot plugins do), your customers can have real conversations with your bot to get answers to their questions.
What if someone asks a question your bot canâ€™t answer? You can configure your bot to connect the customer to your customer service team via email or phone.
2. Marketing Data Collection
Chatbots are a great way to build your marketing lists. If your customers sign into the chat with their Facebook profile, you can receive their public profile data. You can also request an email address and phone number to build your marketing lists.
As the bot grows your list, you can create marketing campaigns with better reach and segmentation (more on that below).
3. Personalized Product Recommendations
Sephoraâ€™s chatbot on Kik does a great job of delivering personalized recommendations to its shoppers.
The botâ€™s Beauty Uncomplicator feature helps users find foundation, eyeliner and other products that match their skin type and style preferences. That can move shoppers from browsing to making purchases without leaving the chat.
With a bot that can offer personalized suggestions, your business can meet one of the make-or-break standards of personalized customer experience. The others include a frictionless shopping experience and help making good purchase decisions. That leads us toâ€¦
4. Help Customers Find the Products They Want
With the right chatbot, your customers can find what theyâ€™re looking for while they chat, without having to click around the site on their own. For example, some WordPress chatbots integrate with WooCommerce to support product searches, upsells and cross-sells within the chat feature. This creates a customer experience thatâ€™s more like in-store service than online click-and-search shopping.
Why would you want customers to shop through your chatbot instead of browsing your site? Because unless a site is exceptionally intuitive and easy to use, theyâ€™d rather not. â€œHard to navigateâ€ sites were the number one frustration of online shoppers in a 2018 report. More than 1/3 of the respondents said theyâ€™d been frustrated with an online storeâ€™s navigation within the past month.
5. Remind Customers About Items in Their Shopping Cart
The average cart abandonment rate for online commerce hovers around 70%, year after frustrating year. There are a lot of factors that make customers ditch their carts, like a clunky checkout process and high shipping fees. But sometimes shoppers just get distracted, or have to get back to work, and forget thereâ€™s something they meant to buy languishing in a digital cart.
Chatbots can help with that, by sending a reminder to shoppers about those products, or an invitation to ask questions, or a discount offer on the items in their cart. That can raise your conversion rates without any effort by you.
6. Send Campaigns via Email, Chat, and Text
The real power of todayâ€™s chatbots is how much data they collect and organize for business owners. When you have a chatbot that gathers Facebook Messenger information, email addresses and phone numbers, you have instant marketing lists. And when you combine that contact information with details about how those shoppers used the chatbot and your site, you have an easy way to segment those lists and create more effective campaigns.
Weâ€™ve already talked about the ability of some chatbots to remarket to shoppers whoâ€™ve left items in their online cart. But you can also use your chatbot data to quickly create campaigns based on
- Past purchases. Maybe 10 people bought dog crates from your store last week? Those customers might need a special offer on chew toys their pups can enjoy during crate time.
- Product searches in your store. Were shoppers looking for fall jackets before you had them in stock? Let them know as soon as you have them available.
- Questions shoppers asked your chatbot. Did a shopper spend a lot of time asking about and looking at your storeâ€™s woodworking tools? Update them whenever you have new woodworking items in stock.
Some chatbots will let you send chat campaigns to your whole list or segments. Some integrate with other marketing tools so you can build email and text campaigns, too.
Now that youâ€™ve seen how chatbots can help your small business, how do you get started? We cover that in an upcoming post that looks at the most popular and powerful chatbot plugins for WordPress, including plugins to help you integrate Facebook Messenger into your site.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance B2B content marketing writer. Her specialty areas include SMB marketing and growth, data security, IoT, and fraud prevention