Since AI integrated with old school chatbot concepts in the mid-2010s, the business case for chatbots has gone from strength to strength. Sure, they may have been clunky in the beginning. If anyone ever used a chatbot in place of a real customer service agent — while in the middle of a crisis — they will have tales of distaste toward these handy helpers. But, there are right and wrong ways to use a chatbot for customer engagement. The research on chatbots supports them as a complementary solution to pair with humans. They’re not yet likely to replace them entirely.
It can’t be denied that chatbots fill a gap. Most customer questions are easy to answer, and chatbots can answer 1,000s simultaneously, letting your human staff focus on more pressing matters.
What is a chatbot?
Everyone will have seen a chatbot before — usually in the bottom right corner of your favourite software provider or online retailer. But what is a chatbot? How does it actually work?
In a nutshell, a chatbot is a computer program designed to interpret human language and simulate conversations, which could be written (as is most often the case in business use) or spoken (as is most often the case with our smart devices).
As Siri and Alexa take voice commands and have to answer just about every question programmers could have imagined us quirky people to ask, their programming is incredibly sophisticated, with the leading AI technology helping them along.
Chatbot website tools and social media chatbots don’t need that kind of intimidating programming, but they do still tap into that helpful AI. Customer service chatbots are created for one reason: to answer questions about your business and determine when to escalate the chat to a human customer service representative.
Research on chatbots has found that they can lift sales by an average of 67%. That’s a pretty incredible average for a tool that doesn’t require an annual salary or overtime.
Let’s look deeper at why chatbots are so mighty powerful for improving sales and customer service.
1. Chatbot customer engagement goes next level
Everyone knows that their website should be a lead generation machine, optimised to maximise the customer journey and interact with the website content, effortlessly leading to a “buy now” or “contact us” button. There is always talk about generating engagement, but that is often one-sided, where you put up the best content possible and do all you can to get your customers to engage with it.
While this is an essential part of ensuring your website is set up to convert, there is a gap here that adding a chatbot to your website could fix: rapport building. Browsing web pages doesn’t have nearly the same power as a chatbot customer journey that lets your customers get to know your brand personality and decide if they trust you enough to give you their patronage.
2. Always-on availability
We humans, annoyingly, need to sleep, and keeping staff for 24-hour customer service rotation is extremely costly. For most businesses, it’s not at all realistic. But chatbots don’t need sleep.
Customers search online at all sorts of odd times. Chatbots let you engage with those customers without having to have staff hanging online just in case someone needs to be pointed in the right direction. Those that meet your chatbot outside of work hours are people you may not have otherwise been able to engage with.
3. Enhancing in-person interactions
Chatbots not only deal with the basic answering of mundane questions, but they are also powerful lead qualifiers. Whether for customer service or sales, they are the entry point to ensure that customers needing human attention will be sent to the right place for more efficient service.
They complement human sales and support staff, freeing them from low-level inquiries and supercharging their toolbox to better close or support those who need to be connected to your humans.
4. Minimising bounce rates
Not too dissimilar from a salesperson greeting you the moment you walk in-store, chatbots encourage people to stay on your website, asking a question to find what they’re after before bouncing off if they can’t find what they’re looking for. Chatbots help your bounce rate. Which helps your SEO and ultimately helps you get more customers onto your site.
Now, chatbots are no replacement for good website design and development. They can’t make up for a poor sitemap that doesn’t optimise the customer journey, but they can help to catch some that haven’t found their answers.
5. Collect valuable customer insights
When asking questions of your chatbot, customers are giving you powerful insights that can be used to improve your website, customer service, conversion rates and overall offering.
Say you get the same question coming up all the time. The answer is one your website, and you thought it was easy to find, but your chatbot insights are telling you that clearly, the navigation is not natural for the customer. You can act on these insights, making informed improvements to your website, your products, your sales cycle, and your customer services.
You could also develop a content marketing strategy based on your customers’ most common problems or commonly asked questions. The ways to leverage your chatbot insights are limitless.
6. Meet customers where they’re at
The chatbot customer journey is so powerful because you can connect with your customers wherever they want to engage with you. Your chatbot website solution could link to Messenger so that customers can decide where they want to engage. If social messaging is more comfortable, they don’t need to keep the browser open.
This multi-platform linking is a great business case for chatbots, letting you connect your interactions across platforms. Tracking conversations that come from social media against your website tells you a lot about how customers engage on different platforms, and giving them different avenues to chat, ensures you’re maximising every chance to engage them.
If you want a chatbot solution to help supercharge your website conversion rates, the team at AdVisible are website design and development experts able to connect all of your digital assets, chatbot included, to maximise your on-site and social customer interactions. Contact the team today.