It goes without saying that chatbots are all the rage these days. In fact, 80% of businesses are hoping to have a bot of their own by 2020. But are we watching a fad unfold? With everyone scrambling to develop one, what actually is the impact chatbots have on business?
Businesses love chatbots because of their high impact at low cost. It’s relatively simple to get one trained and running, and they’re available 24/7 across platforms. With a simple Facebook Messenger bot, for example, businesses can reach customers easily without requiring them to install an app or navigate menus. What’s more, chatbot engagement can also lead to a trove of valuable data from customers.
There are four main areas for identifying chatbot business impact:
- Customer service
- The impact on employees
Depending on a business’ goals in developing a bot, it could have an impact on a few or all four of these areas. Let’s look in depth at how big its impact could be.
Chatbot Engagement Makes Customer Service Faster & More Personal
One of the biggest problems in customer service is the waiting time. Whether contacting by phone or through social media, customers often must wait to connect to a suitable rep. This leads to an incredible amount of frustration, which in turn ruins your brand perception—and is probably a symptom of an understaffed and overworked customer service department. A chatbot, though, can fix all this.
Because bots are always on, they provide a way for customers to get help with a problem instantly.
Easy accessibility can improve your company perception and allow you to fix matters quickly. A customer service bot may offer help troubleshooting issues or answering questions without the need for a human agent. Should human intervention be necessary, a bot can quickly connect your customer with the most relevant representative. This means human agents don’t have to sweat the small stuff—allowing them to focus on higher-risk, elevated problems without subjecting irate customers to long wait times.
Finally, chatbots can remember past conversations they’ve had with any given user. This helps you better anticipate their needs when they reach out to you. In this case, cultivating bot retention with customers lets you solve their problems faster and easier, because the bot is aware of their communication history.
The Chatbot Business Impact on Sales
We often think of bots as a means of surfacing relevant information to a user. But they can help businesses close out a sale or influence a purchasing decision, too. Chatbots are perfect for providing one-to-one consultancy—for example, a sales assistant to help customers find the perfect outfit or gift for an occasion. Chatbot analytics of these interactions can clue you in on better ways to meet customers’ needs, too.
For simpler purchases, customers might already know exactly what they have in mind. Taco Bell built a bot that lets customers order the perfect taco via Slack. Rather than navigate labyrinthian menus, customers can put in an order in plain English, just as they would to a human. TacoBot also has a great deal of personality, providing entertaining banter throughout the process and exhibiting Taco Bell’s trademark laid-back, chilled-out brand voice.
It’s easy to see, then, the impact chatbots have on sales: they help customers find and purchase what they need through a highly personalized service. By talking through the process, your business can provide customers with options that suit their needs and budget. One can also use bot retention data to measure how successful a business’ other sales channels are as well. For example, what keeps customers choosing a sales bot over shopping alone on a website?
Messenger Bots are a Whole New Marketing Platform
The impact chatbots may have on your marketing efforts are twofold: first, a conversational bot provides a new medium for outreach to generate interest in a product (especially media like a game, movie or TV show). Second, bots can obtain rich data from your customers which you can then use to tailor your marketing materials.
Kim Kardashian made waves recently when she transformed herself into a Facebook Messenger bot, which plays out like a choose-your-own-adventure in conversation form. The bot replicates Kardashian’s speech and invites conversation partners into her personal world—namely, the world of her mobile game, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.”
Lionsgate put out a similar experience with a chatbot that allows users to talk to Alpha 5, an assistant to the eponymous heroes of the franchise. The bot showcases the character’s fun personality and treats users as if they themselves were chosen to become Power Rangers—again, providing a unique in-brand experience to would-be customers.
Finally, conversations with a chatbot offer tons of useful marketing information. For example, common questions might show that you can better describe a product feature. With sentiment analysis, you can learn how people think about your brand depending on how they talk to your bot. You might also discover customer needs that you were oblivious to before. Chatbot analytics are a great way for learning more intimate details about target consumers.
Whether you want to maintain an edge on providing entertaining in-brand experiences or learn more about your customers, a chatbot can profoundly shake up your business’ marketing for the better.
Not Just for Customers: How Chatbots Help Employees
Throughout this post we’ve discussed impacts that customer-focused chatbots can have on your business. But they can help your employees as well. We’ve already shown how chatbots can lighten the workload for a customer service department, but what else?
Chatbots make for great collaborative productivity tools, like tracking tasks, scheduling appointments, answering common questions, maintaining internal wikis and more. If you want a specific use case, consider a new hire: a digital assistant can provide them with all the information they need as it’s needed. Requiring a new employee to search through an overwhelming number of documents and handbooks is harder when compared to.