Chatbots for Small Business
Chatbots are the latest craze in the small business industry.
Companies see the value in these interactive platforms to assist their teams and to accelerate the customer experience. Chatbots behave in a human-like manner and can integrate with your websites, live chats, and emails.
“While web visitors are tired of seeing another web form and groan at the prospect of having to fill another one out, chatbots offer an engaging alternative. Chatbots are conversationalists and are much more convincing,” says Jeff Cole, the co-founder of ChatPath.
Thinking about adding chatbots to your strategy? If so, you’re probably interested in knowing how to effectively use them. Keep reading to learn how your small business can take advantage of chatbots.
Jumping head first into new technology can be quite daunting. Your goal is to ensure it benefits your business before you make an initial investment.
Chatbots can be valuable for both your customers and team members. Check out what you can do with chatbots below.
1. DO Capture Customer Insight
Research is vital to your business. It helps you learn your consumers’ interests and habits. With those insights, your team can build better products and deliver tailored customer service.
Chatbots are paving the way to becoming an extension of your research team. They can gather data by asking consumers simple questions or having customers select a response. Plus, the interaction is less intrusive, as compared to a customer representative who may seem to possess hidden motivations.
Craig Cares, a non-medical in home care agency, uses chatbots to quickly assist their website visitors. In the example below, you’ll notice three options: Ask a Question, Book Consultation, and Job Inquiry. Now, their team can filter through requests easily and calculate the types of visitors that land on their site.
You require consumer insights to make effective business decisions. Chatbots are a viable solution to gather that much-needed data.
2. DO Communicate Timely Messages
Ubisend research found that consumers possess positive sentiments toward companies that use chatbots. Nearly 43% considered these businesses as innovative, while 22% saw the companies as more efficient.
That’s good news for your small business. It’s an opportunity to use chatbots as a vehicle to share timely messages to your audience.
With so many businesses vying for consumers’ attention, chatbots are a unique way to keep your customers informed about new products and upcoming promotions.
Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy, uses chatbots to remind his webinar registrants of the event date and time. The chatbot vibrates the person’s phone and messages the direct link of the webinar.
You’ll also want to experiment with your chatbot’s voice and tone. There’s no requirement to engage in a serious manner. Monitor what messages excite your customers; adding more personality may earn positive reactions.
3. DO Answer Customer Questions
While chatbots are fairly new to customers, the idea of communicating with tech tools isn’t. Consumers already engage with automated phone and email support. So chatbots are a natural next step.
Chatbots are especially useful for communicating with your audience. As a business, your team can only handle so many customer requests in a day.
“The convenience of a bot is immense. It’s working 24/7, easily accessible, it doesn’t call in sick or have a bad day, and customers don’t have to speak with an actual, real person, if they don’t want to,” writes Inc. contributor Gary Golden.
When developing a chatbot, you want it to have access to your knowledge database. That way, customers with specific inquiries about your product or service can get helpful information, like a video or step-by-step guide.
It’s also wise to have chatbots know frequently asked questions. Immediate responses will please your customers.
4. DO Influence Buying Decisions
In a competitive market, you’re constantly looking for ways to get more consumers engaged with your product. From soliciting user-generated content to hosting a social media contest, you’ve done it all— except chatbots.
Here’s your chance to experiment with chatbots to transform interested buyers into loyal customers. With access to your product catalog, chatbots can issue specific product details to consumers, including price and availability. Brick-and-mortar stores can provide customers with their physical locations and phone numbers.
More advanced chatbots also can provide consumers with images of your products. This feature makes it convenient for customers to verify the correct items they want without having to exit the chatbot screen.
Chatbots offer your customers the flexibility to shop on their own terms. Employ chatbots to get more revenue into your monthly reports.
With all those benefits, what can go wrong? Unfortunately, plenty.
Being aware of what you shouldn’t do will only help your team integrate chatbots into your business. Grab a pen and mark the following three don’ts down.
1. DON’T Ignore Glitches
When it comes to technology, it’s never perfect. And chatbots aren’t an oddity. These platforms come with their own set of issues that your team will need to solve on a case-by-case basis. When they do arise, it’s your responsibility to not ignore the glitches.
So what can really happen?
Your chatbot could shut down while assisting several customers. This problem translates into irate customers flooding your other support channels.
With an influx of tickets (that you weren’t prepared for), customers will wait longer to get their questions answered. This downward spiral can affect team morale and possibly your sales.
Chatbots also can drive more confusion than clarity with their responses. Customers may have to ask multiple questions to get one decent answer. Or your chatbot may totally miss the mark and give inappropriate, irrelevant messages like this one:
UX and product designer Jeśus Martin encourages chatbot testing with an objective mindset to observe how chatbots react to specific questions. By working with your tech team or developer, you can spot problems before they even happen.
2. DON’T Use As Your Sole Marketing Channel
Business teams use multiple marketing channels to connect with their customers. That’s because no one channel will capture the interest of your entire target audience. So it’s not in your best interest to make chatbots your sole marketing channel.
Instead, you want to use chatbots to supplement, not supplant, your current efforts. Take advantage of chatbots to drive visitors to a specific page of your site, clarify simple product inquiries, or connect customers to the support team. Consider chatbots as a way to take your operations to the next level.
Chatbots are especially effective for enhancing the mobile experience. You can dedicate chatbots to serve as a messaging tool to help customers who need information on the go. Their quick responses will ensure customers receive product details in an efficient manner. And that’s what you desire—more engagement
Adding chatbots to your marketing mix is helpful for both your team and customers. But don’t rely on the tool as your only means to execute your plans.
3. DON’T Replace Humans with Chatbots
When fresh technologies crop up, some business owners immediately think it can replace their largest expense—human labor. A few vendors will even falsely promise that chatbots don’t need supervision.
Laduram Vishnoi, CEO of Tagove, offers his insight, “The biggest chatbot misconception is that they’ll take over services and automate everything so businesses wouldn’t need humans to function. This won’t happen; at least not completely.”
Chatbots are only a tool to facilitate your strategy to nurture leads, acquire new customers, and maintain a loyal following. Without humans, you can’t configure the chatbots to achieve specific tasks.
More importantly, chatbots can’t replace your talented marketing and sales teams. Chatbots don’t have the ability to brainstorm creative ideas, adapt quickly to complex customer expectations, or hop on an airplane to participate in an impromptu meeting with a client. In other words: you still need humans.
Look for opportunities where chatbots can offer value to your team’s needs. Chatbots should assist your staff as they find methods to improve your bottom line.
Chatbots as a Strategy
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when new technology enters the market. But that’s no reason not to try it.
Take the time to learn how chatbots can benefit your small business. They may revolutionize your operations and customer relationships.
Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Originally from Louisiana, Shayla champions access to remote work opportunities. Connect with her on Twitter at @shaylaprice.