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Small Business: How to Leverage Chatbots to Improve the Customer Journey | by Jared Cornell | Jul, 2020


Jared Cornell
Image Source: Pixabay

Chatbots are blowing up the online business world. This artificial intelligence system is shaping the way businesses interact with consumers. It streamlines communication between your brand and your customers and offers round-the-clock service. With this feature, you’ll be able to provide better customer service and foster a loyal client base.

Chatbots have grown and improved over the years; so much so that large companies such as Lyft, Spotify, and The Wall Street Journal have started using bots to enhance the overall customer service experience. Other businesses have started to follow suit as well. Studies show that in 2020, 80% of businesses plan to use chatbots.

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If you’re on the fence of whether you should use chatbots for your business, here are a few reasons to help you make up your mind.

  1. Round-the-Clock Customer Service

Your consumers demand constant accessibility. They expect you to answer their queries as soon as possible — whether it’s on a Sunday afternoon or wee hours in the morning. Unfortunately, your customer support staff need a break, but the good news is that your chatbot doesn’t.

When customers’ needs happen to be outside of business hours, you need a way to answer their questions even when your customer service staff isn’t available. Chatbots offer intelligent answers to inquiries so your customers wouldn’t have to wait until business hours. The best chatbots can hold insightful conversations and in most cases, your customers won’t even know they’re talking to an AI.

2. Seamless Communication

Consumers tend to compare different products before they purchase from you. Chatbots are able to offer additional information to should your customers ask for it. Some chatbots can even send video content or give you a discount code. Many chatbots use natural language processing methods, so they can accurately analyze customer inquiries and deliver a relevant response.

3. Chatbots are Scalable

Have you ever hung up on a customer support call because they kept you waiting for a long time? If you didn’t like to wait, chances are, your customers feel the same way too. So if you make them wait for hours or days, there’s a great chance they’ll choose your competitors over you.

With chatbots, your customers can receive answers to their questions in real-time. Whether there are 10 or 1,000 people on your website, a chatbot can answer all their queries at the same time. There’s no limit to the number of questions a chatbot can answer.

4. Save Money on Customer Service

Since chatbots can answer thousands of inquiries at once, you can free up some of your customer representatives so they can focus on more demanding tasks. Chatbots can also help you save money by eliminating the need to hire more customer support agents.

Furthermore, having chatbots boosts productivity in the workplace by providing quick solutions to basic inquiries. In this way, you’ll be able to lower operational costs, save time, and cut down on manpower. According to research entitled “Chatbots: Retail, eCommerce, Banking & Healthcare 2017–2022”, chatbots can allow companies to save more than $8 billion annually by 2022.

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5. Personalized Customer Interaction

Whether they’re shopping in your store or browsing online, personalization is an important part of your customer’s buying experience. However, it’s harder to connect with potential customers if they’re just browsing behind a screen. With the help of your chatbots, you’ll be able to send out personalized messages to your target audience.

By personalizing your messages, you can get to know your customers; figure out their likes and dislikes. This allows you to create better content, target specific audiences, make better recommendations for your customers. Today’s chatbots can interact with people as effectively as a human customer service agent would.

6. Generate More Leads for Your Business and Increase Conversion

As mentioned, using chatbots can help you figure out your customers’ preferences and interests. With valuable information at your fingertips, you can create customized marketing efforts that actually work. You can send out ads, discount codes, and other promos that your customers will surely love.

Not only do chatbots monitor conversations in real-time, but they can also analyze data to suggest relevant products to your customers. In fact, 47% of potential customers would purchase the items suggested by a chatbot.

You can program your bot so it can recognize certain keywords, such as “purchase”, “buy”, or “interested”. In this way, you can prioritize customers who may need help completing a transaction. With just a few taps, you’ll be able to know scheduled appointments, reservations, purchases, and more.

7. Less Stress for You

According to a recent survey conducted by a chatbot developer called Helpshift, the majority of the respondents (around 94%) dislike contacting customer support. According to them, the current methods of handling customer support has done little to ease the dread of reaching out to customer service.

The same survey also discovered that people are more likely to welcome the use of chatbots to answer their inquiries. In fact, at least 70% of the respondents said that they would use chatbots as long as it accomplishes important tasks human customer service agents usually do, such as seamless communication, reducing the time it takes to solve certain issues, no wait time to contact customer support, immediately get a customer service representative on the phone if need be, and simplify the overall customer service process.

So far, chatbots are able to exceed expectations in terms of solving issues, streamlining communications, and simplifying customer service.

It’s no doubt that chatbots are the next big thing if they aren’t already. It’s important for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends to keep up with the competition. But let’s face it — the best chatbots in the market are expensive.

As of 2017, creating a chatbot through existing apps can cost $3,000 to $5,000. On the other hand, building a chatbot from scratch can go up to $30,000 to $150,000.

This can cost a lot, especially for smaller companies. If you’re in a cash pinch, you might want to consider applying for small business loans.

Taking out a small business loan can help fund your chatbot project. There are different types of small business loans available for entrepreneurs. Make sure to consult with a financial advisor to know which loan works best for you.

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