By the end of this article on 'What is a Chatbot? An Introduction to Chatbots', you will get an overview of how you can generate more leads and thereby sales and conversions by offering solutions directly in your chatbot window.
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What is a Chatbot?
This article on ‘What is a Chatbot? An Introduction to Chatbots’ uncovers the secrets to saving time and money using automated chatbots!
An overview of how you can generate more leads and thereby sales and conversions by offering solutions directly in your chatbot window!
And yes, without you being present.
Chatbots are all over the internet right now.
Haven’t you noticed a popup (typically at the bottom right-hand corner of your window), interacting with you as soon as you land on a website?
These chatbots have been programmed to ask you a series of questions, which typically answer the first round of queries or clarifications that you may have, with regard to a product or service.
These chatbots have been steadily gaining in popularity from the past few years, and ever since Facebook announced that they were allowing people to create chatbots for Facebook Messenger, they’ve exploded.
Ahem, but what is a chatbot?
A chatbot, very simply put across, is a computer program. A chatbot uses artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate human conversation(s).
Few other live examples of chatbots is probably when you pay a cell phone bill or buy something online.
These chatbots act as a mediator between the customer and the service provider or the product company. Without having to wait for a human operator to respond, you are provided with all the information required.
And this has seen an increase in generating leads and sales closures as well.
You can have a number of logical jumps and iterations programmed into your chatbot. They can be extremely beneficial to companies in numerous ways.
Chatbots can be incorporated into the various stages of business operations.
Starting from the inquiry stage to operations such as marketing, sales, customer support, etc.
And the biggest advantage is that these chatbots can save you a whole lot of time from performing the same redundant work and also save you a lot of money, from having personals and resources only for a set duty of responding to prospects.
I will also include in this article, some of the different chatbot programs that are currently available, and how you can choose the right one to match your requirements.
If you think a chatbot can’t help you, well, think again! Almost every online business can benefit one. And chatbots, honestly, will play a huge role in the future.
Benefits of Chatbots
As you go through this article, what is a chatbot, you will realize that chatbots are extremely useful for a number of different applications.
And as mentioned earlier, chatbots can be incorporated into various stages of your business cycle.
Right from directing a customer to a simple contact (inquiry) form to answering complex questions and logical jumps (based on the query put forth), and even helping along the sales process.
One of the biggest advantages of using Chatbots is the need for fewer actual employees.
Chatbots can handle a lot of mundane and redundant work, such as directing a prospect or a customer to a contact (inquiry) form or helping out with a specific link on the website, or providing the contact details of the respective department heads, which otherwise would take up time from paid employees.
This definitely benefits the customers too. And how exactly?
Well, if you were looking out for specific information regarding a product, wouldn’t you be happier to get the information right away?
Instead of submitting an inquiry form and then waiting for a representative from the company to get back to you. For all you know, the representative may end up calling you at a time not really convenient for you.
All this is eliminated when you are interacting with a chatbot. And, while I speak for myself here, I hate getting calls and would any day prefer getting my information in such a manner.
Drawbacks of Chatbots
Well, if there’s an advantage, the disadvantages wouldn’t be far behind. Right? 😉
Yes, chatbots have a few drawbacks, too.
However advanced artificial intelligence (AI) is, it is not at the level to replace actual humans. Well, at least not at this point in time. And this could end up frustrating the customers at some point. And you may end up losing the customer.
While this is rare, it is definitely a possibility and can happen. So, it’s always a good practice to capture the user details early on, in order to follow up with the customer, lest they are not convinced with the reply of the chatbot or they drop off in between.
One way to eliminate this is to first, identify a really good chatbot application. One in which you can have multiple logical jumps. By logical jumps, I mean, e.g., if for a particular question the chatbot puts across, you must program the chatbot to come up with various options.
And if one of the options is selected, again program the chatbot to come up with suboptions.
One must never rush into creating a chatbot. Give it time, understand, or rather predict the kind of response from the user and be prepared with appropriate answers and options.
How Can Chatbots Help you?
Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “I’m too small for a chatbot to work for me.” Or maybe, “I don’t think a chatbot is right for my business.”
I get it. They’re pretty advanced technology, and you’ve probably seen them mostly on sites like big corporate websites or huge eCommerce websites.
But the truth is, more and more, smaller companies are realizing that chatbots can give them an edge over their competition in many ways.
The most common use of chatbots is an interface between your customers and customer support agents. Many customers won’t visit F.A.Q. pages, and will inundate your support staff (or you, if you have no staff) with questions that could easily be answered by a trip to the F.A.Q.
A chatbot can be there to act as a middleman of sorts. The customer may even think they are asking live support questions. If they ask their question and receive an appropriate response, they may just go ahead with their purchase without even contacting support at all, saving you and your staff valuable time and money.
Many bots will also allow a live person to take over the conversation at any time, so if you happen to notice that a customer is not getting the answers they need with the bot, you or a staff member can take over and help them instead.
Chatbots can also be invaluable for gathering marketing intelligence from customers.
You can keep logs of all your chatbot’s conversations, and then you can analyze them to see if your F.A.Q page needs to be updated, or if customers are having specific problems in the order process, etc.
Customers will often tell a bot (or live agent) things they wouldn’t even think to email the company about, so this kind of information can be absolutely invaluable.
Another way chatbots are useful is by actually assisting with sales. You can program a chatbot to guide customers through the sales process, make product recommendations, and more.
You can even program them to sell directly to the customer!
Chatbots For Direct Sales
Did you know chatbots are being used to sell directly to customers?
Companies like Dominos, Pizza Hut, and many others are using chatbots to let customers order directly through text message or Facebook Messenger instead of having to call the store (and flood already-busy phone lines) or through the website (which often takes longer than when using a chatbot.)
Even smaller companies can get in on the action. Some bots allow direct selling through Facebook Messenger.
For example, a customer might say “Show Products” for a list of all available products. Or they might say, “Show T-Shirts” for a list of all t-shirts. They might even see pictures of each product.
This system doesn’t work as well for companies with large numbers of products, because so many products can’t be listed in such a way, but for a company with fewer than fifty products, it can be a really simple way to have customers order without a lot of hassle.
For many customers, it feels natural to be able to “speak” with an agent to complete their order.
Some even get a kick out of talking to artificial intelligence and having it speak back and accept commands. It’s a novel way of doing things that can help you stand out from your competition.
You can even program the bot to accept different payment methods, such as credit cards or PayPal.
This is one way chatbots are innovating the entire online ordering process and can help you get more sales.
Now, we’re going to talk about how you can use bots to gather valuable marketing information.
Chatbots For Market Research
Did you know that a chatbot can actually be a better marketing tool than even one of those expensive market research firms that cost tens of thousands of dollars?
See, even if you were to hire one of those firms, they would ask participants a series of questions about your product, or about what they might want in a similar product.
But there are a few problems with this method:
1. You may not ask the right questions. There may be things you never even thought of asking people about your product that could be even more important than those questions you did think to ask, but you’d never know if you simply stuck to that list of questions.
2. Participants are usually paid for their time. This means they feel obligated to be positive about the product, even if they are asked to be completely honest.
3. People generally want to be liked, so they will often lie about how they really feel so they don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
This is where a chatbot can really come in handy.
Because people usually KNOW they are speaking to a bot, and don’t often realize their responses are being logged, they will be more honest and more willing to be open about how they feel. They feel more comfortable speaking to the bot because they don’t have to risk hurting anyone’s feelings or embarrassing themselves.
Plus, people will often say things you might never have even thought of asking in market research or in a survey or poll.
They might ask the bot, “Is there any way to upgrade to overnight shipping, because I need the item quickly for a gift?”
Or they might ask, “How much does this product weigh because I want to carry it in my purse?”
These are things that could help you get more sales, but you might not even realize they mattered much to customers without seeing the chatbot logs!
Chatbots For Support
Perhaps the most common use of chatbots is simply providing customer support, and they are quite good at that if they are programmed well.
You may have even talked to a bot at one point and not realized it, because many bots are so advanced that it’s difficult to distinguish them from actual humans.
In fact, some chatbots are so advanced that MANY customers don’t even realize they aren’t talking to a live agent unless you tell them that.
This makes them very good at providing customer support, but you have to program them well in order to provide accurate responses.
The first thing you should do is make sure you program all of your frequently asked questions into the bot. You want to make absolutely sure those important questions be answered by your bot.
We talked about how good they are at providing market research, and this can help you expand your F.A.Q., as well as the information your bot provides.
There may be questions that crop up often that you neglected to put on your F.A.Q. page. By watching your chatbot logs carefully, you can make sure to add those to both the F.A.Q. page and the chatbot.
Chatbots can save you an insane amount of time and money by taking the load off your customer support agents (or you.)
Think of how many times you’ve been contacted by email, or by phone, or by your support desk with very simple questions that could have been answered by a trip to the F.A.Q page or by simply reading the sales page.
A chatbot could answer those questions and make the user feel like they’ve talked to a real, live person at your company, without actually taking any time from your support staff.
This makes the customer happy, and it makes YOU happy!
Now we’re going to talk about some of the most popular chatbot programs, so keep your eyes peeled!
Quality Chatbot Programs
Because of the explosion in popularity of chatbots in recent years, a lot of companies have rushed inferior bots to market in an attempt to make money from the trend as quickly as possible, but that isn’t good for the people who buy those systems.
Such poorly programmed bots are often full of grammatical errors or may use broken English or fail to work properly, and this may upset your customers.
Because of this, it’s vital to test out various chatbot programs before committing to one, because you need to be sure that:
- The chatbot is actually good quality and programmed well.
- Will work for YOUR specific needs.
Not all bots are created equal. Some allow direct sales by the bot, while others do not. Some are easy to customize, and some require a programmer to do so. If you test out a few different options, you can make sure to find the one that best suits your needs.
Today, we’re going to take a look at two of the most popular chatbot options out there. These options are both relatively affordable, and easy to use.
Mobile Monkey is a very popular chatbot that works with Facebook Messenger and Facebook comments.
They have a free trial version too, so you can test them out to see how well they suit your needs.
You can even use Mobile Monkey to sell directly to your customers through Facebook Messenger with PayPal, Stripe, and other popular payment methods.
Botsify also works with Facebook Messenger, but they have a version that will work directly on your website as well.
Their paid plans start at just $10 per month, so they are very affordable.
Plus, they allow human takeover at any time, so you can easily take over the conversation if the bot isn’t doing a good job helping the customer.
Imagine having your own chatbot laid over Facebook, or even over your direct competitor’s website!
Best of all, you don’t need any coding or programming skills to customize your bots! ANYONE can do it!
This concludes my article on chatbots. I hope you learned a lot, and I hope you’ll make use of what you’ve learned.
I hope you found value in this article.
Please do share your views and feedback in the comments section below. It will only help me improve and in turn, help me in bringing out quality content for you.