In today’s digital age, it’s important for businesses to keep up with the latest technological advancements. One such innovation that has gained popularity is the chatbot. If you’ve ever asked your smartphone a question or issued a command and marveled at its ability to respond and take action, then you’ve used a chatbot. This engaging, fun, and helpful experience has prompted many well-known brands like CNN, Domino’s Pizza, and H&M to heavily invest in creating chatbots to build customer loyalty.
While the artificial intelligence (AI) technology behind chatbots may seem complex and expensive to develop, it shouldn’t discourage small businesses from leveraging this technology to create new levels of customer engagement and service. So, if you’re not familiar with what chatbots are, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s start by defining the term. Essentially, chatbots are computer programs that engage in conversation with people, either through text messages or audibly. Some popular chatbots include IBM’s Watson, LiveChat, and LivePerson. In fact, you may have interacted with a chatbot without even realizing it, as many companies use this technology for information gathering tasks or customer service purposes.
Considering our modern world’s global nature and the widespread use of chatbots as a form of artificial intelligence, it’s not surprising that multilingual chatbots are in high demand. However, developing a chatbot with the capability to simultaneously translate languages is extremely complicated and time-consuming. While there are a few rare examples of multilingual chatbots on the market, such as Language I/O® Chat, they are still limited. Nevertheless, it’s only a matter of time before various multilingual chatbots become available to businesses, as there are numerous situations where these programs would be useful.
Most users access chatbots through messenger apps and communication platforms such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Kik, Slack, and Skype. Users can simply type or ask a question, and the chatbot will respond with the appropriate information. However, it’s not only important for chatbots to understand the context of a user’s question or command but also to “learn” from each interaction to provide more personalized information in the future. For example, if you ask a chatbot for restaurant recommendations, it will analyze data to proactively suggest restaurants that match your preferences the next time you’re looking for a place to eat.
The arrival of chatbots to the marketing technology scene couldn’t have come at a better time. Traditional digital advertising tactics that provide one-way interactions from brand to customer are becoming less effective. Brands need to go beyond one-time interactions and create avenues for back-and-forth engagement to build long-term customer relationships. Conversational bots allow you to communicate the value of your brand to a vast audience through one-on-one conversations that make users feel like the interactions are tailored to their individual likes and needs. Users can conduct research, ask questions, make purchases, request help, and share experiences with friends. While email marketing still holds a significant position, chatbots have proven to be more effective at getting your brand and messaging in front of customers and, more importantly, getting them to engage with you. According to MailChimp’s February 2017 report on Email Stats, email campaigns have an open rate ranging from 16% to 27%, while chatbots deployed on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger boast an open rate over 90%. Additionally, users typically open and read chatbot messages within five minutes compared to email messages.
One of the key differences between email and chatbots is how users consume the messages. Emails display all messaging in one window, often including links that direct users away from the email app. In contrast, chatbots show only a bit of information at a time, creating an interaction that closely resembles a conversation with a friend. The ability for a chatbot to engage with customers in “conversational commerce” is a significant reason why chatbots have a higher stickiness factor than email.
However, it’s important to note that most small businesses do not have the resources to develop their own chatbots. AI implementations require substantial budgets, teams of software engineers, and technologies that enable the AI to analyze customer data. This is where partnering with a company like Botworx can be beneficial. Botworx offers a bot platform that allows brands to use chatbots and messaging services not only for customer service and retention but also for acquiring customers. Their platform features full lifecycle management and analytics, an AI-powered natural language engine, and industry-leading commerce, trust, and security features.
Before creating and launching a chatbot, it’s crucial to determine the purpose behind using it. Do you want to attract new customers, improve engagement with current customers, or enhance customer service levels? Once you have a clear objective in mind, you can decide whether to build and maintain the chatbot in-house or partner with a developer. Similar to an e-commerce website, a chatbot consists of a user interface on the front end and data collection and analysis on the back end. The user interface should be user-friendly and provide a compelling experience to keep users engaged. The AI technology on the back end should enable the chatbot to provide immediate answers and also analyze data from all interactions to anticipate and offer relevant information proactively.
Remember that enabling conversational commerce is not just a technical challenge but also a marketing one. Building customer loyalty requires more than just rolling out a new chatbot. Trust needs to be earned, and this takes time and constant effort. However, the payoff will be well worth it. Chatbots provide businesses with the power to acquire customers, engage them with relevant and compelling content, and monetize those engagements.
In conclusion, chatbots are a valuable tool for enhancing customer engagement and service. They offer personalized interactions, higher open rates, and a more conversational experience compared to traditional digital advertising tactics. While developing chatbots may seem daunting, partnering with a company like Botworx can make the process more accessible for small businesses. So, whether you’re looking to attract new customers, improve engagement, or enhance customer service, chatbots are the way to go in our digital age.