Keeping up with the latest trends can be tough in today’s fast-changing world but a business that fails to do so might fall behind in competition. By remaining cognizant of tech and communication trends early-on, brands can set themselves apart by driving innovation or acting to meet the changing demands of their customers. One of the biggest examples of changing trends in business-to-consumer communication is that brands cannot rely on humans alone for solving customers’ needs. While automated services were originally regarded as a luxury, today’s businesses require them to meet the growing demands of consumers. It’s time to add a chatbot to the picture.

chatbot giving a handHumanlike Service Without the Human

Consider the last time you needed to consult your bank. Chances are, you didn’t talk to a human: you probably took care of all your needs through an automated banking system via phone.  Such systems are great for businesses and consumers alike because:

  • Customers don’t have to wait for a human to become available to solve a problem.
  • Businesses save money on training and employing round-the-clock representatives.

Despite the convenience of automated phone menus, even today this system is becoming outdated. Thanks to social media and the internet, consumers are always online and expect an immediate response from brands. Chatbots are a great solution to this challenge because they become easier and cheaper to develop each day.

What to chatbots offer that traditional communication channels don’t? The biggest benefits to chatbots are that they:

  • Are always ready to help (i.e. customer service)
  • They allow for a constant connection between a brand and its customers (which is great for media and entertainment companies)
  • They make communication between B2C easy and instantaneous using a channel that feels natural to consumers: chatting in a messaging app in their own words.

Chatbot examples to understand their capabilities

Anyone wondering what chatbots can do should try talking to one: plenty of businesses, including KAYAK, the History Channel and new, chatbot-first companies have found innovative uses of the technology. With KAYAK for Facebook Messenger, for example, customers can book an entire itinerary—from transportation to lodging—in a single conversation. If they’re uncertain where they want to go on holiday, the bot will provide inspiration within their budget. The bot takes a complicated process (browsing several listings and ratings to book tours, hotels and transportation) and makes it easy within a single interface.

The History Channel’s This Day in History bot, available via Amazon Alexa, demonstrates how media companies can repurpose and tailor vast amounts of content in a new, novel and fun way. The Alexa Skill provides users with a fun explanation of what happened that day in history. When complete, users can ask about other historic events as well.

Other companies are building entirely new experiences with chatbot technology, setting themselves apart from traditional businesses in their respective industries. Consider HealthTap, for example, which instantly connects users with medical professionals at any time. Apps like it and Foxsy show how chatbots can be used to connect people together based on their needs.

Chatbots Are Always Evolving—And Need Data to Do It

One thing every business employing a chatbot should know is that it’s incredibly important to keep track of chatbot analytics and consumer data. Chatbots provide an abundance of useful customer data, including:

  • Content of conversation (common words or phrases)
  • User location
  • User preferences
  • Peak usage times

But this information is useless if it isn’t leveraged through conversational analytics. By keeping track of chatbot analytics, you can learn more about users’ needs, improve your chatbot and increase your userbase. This is necessary for remaining ahead of competition. Some of the most important metrics to track include:

  • The number of users per day (and how many of them are coming back)
  • Errors and conversation bottlenecks that hamper user experience
  • When users are most likely to use the bot

All this data will help you understand what your users want, when they want it, and how well your brand (and your bot) are meeting those needs. Let’s get started on some specific examples below.

Getting a Head-Start on Conversational Analytics

Iterating a chatbot according to conversational data can help you better meet consumer needs, save time (and money) for yourself and the customer, or discover new opportunities for forging deep relationships with your biggest fans. Here are some examples of what you can do by keeping tabs on conversational data.

By keeping track of when users are most active on a chosen messaging platform, you can strategically time push notifications for when they’re most likely to be read and responded to. This is excellent for calls-to-action. For example, a pizza brand might remind customers who love sports to put in an order just before a big game.

Chatbot data also clues botmakers in on what’s important to their users. By identifying the most commonly used phrases or queries, you might discover issues that people commonly have with your brand. For example, if many customers are discussing your service’s pricing, it may indicate that prices discussed on your website aren’t clear and should be re-worded. In this way, chatbots make for excellent tools for market research and feedback.

A high retention rate is not necessarily a success

Finally, retention can help you measure the overall effectiveness of your chatbot or brand. Botanalytics, a chatbot analytics tool with data on more than 200,000 users talking to chatbots per hour, found that a high retention rate isn’t always a good thing, contrary to popular belief. In fact, if you have a troubleshooting chatbot designed to solve a problem in a single conversation, a high retention rate suggests the bot isn’t solving the issue, which prompts the user to keep coming back for more tries. When assessing a chatbot’s retention rate, consider the chatbot’s goal and whether it’s achieving it on repeat conversations.

So, got any ideas on how you can put a chatbot to use for your business? The possibilities are endless in this exciting space. With chatbots and conversational analytics you’ll not only remain competitive but will better accommodate the needs of your fans and customers.