Chatbots are at the foreground within marketing and digital news, and you would struggle to find many digital trends and prediction posts that don’t have some acknowledgement of the value of chatbots for business in 2016 and beyond.
If you are not familiar with Chatbots, put simply, a chatbox is a form of computer program that has been created to replicate and facilitate effective conversation (spoken, textual, and other mediums), to encourage easy interaction with people. Chatbots take into account known conversation processes and can apply them, often combined with machine learning and some degree of AI (artificial intelligence) to deliver conversations through a number of varying chat interfaces.
Over the past few months, and rapidly growing since 2016, an ever increasing number of brands are looking towards chatbots as a means to add an ever present voice and customer value offering to businesses. In this article, we explore the 5 most prolific reasons why businesses need chatbots, and how robot/computer interaction can help you in 2016.
Reason 1 – Practical applications for any business
This sounds like a bold and presumptuous statement however it is one that can be backed up. The Guardian recently reported on a Chatbot lawyer which overturned 160,000 parking tickets, HealthTap enables people to ask a panel of doctors questions anonymously to receive medical feedback, and chatbots like CNN Breaking News Bot, will make sure that you always stay on top of the news as it happens.
These examples are but a few of the practical applications for chatbots. When you consider the growth of Smartphones and the penetration of m-commerce for business, plus other technology advancements; including spoken search and wearable technology, it is not difficult to see the natural progression towards chatbots.
Image source: ‘Communicating with the mobile shopper‘ Textlocal.
Reason 2 – Speeding up the buying cycle
User understanding and barrier to conversion removal are key aspects for reducing the time to purchase regardless of industry, brand or product/service being provided. The faster people can find answers to common problems, reinforce their need to purchase, and access the core insights from content buried deep within your website, the quicker they will convert.
Chatbots can be taught what matters most to users, follow expected conversational pathways, and refine through machine learning, to make important information specific, and accessible to users and their unique circumstances. An example of this can be de-generalising broad questions that would typically lead the user to catch-all pages on a website, to take into consideration the user conversation signals and associated data (location, search behaviour, other data information) to offer more tailored end results. A good example of this is weather chatbots answering broad questions like ‘what shoes are on offer today?’ with replies incorporating known data – an example answer to the previous question being ‘the latest men’s shoes in size 10, with online discounts include…’. This is a very basic example of chatbots solving problems and speeding up the buying cycle.
Reason 3 – Convenience is king
Users demand an easy and effective online experience. One where location, device, time of day and time to engage can be deemed irrelevant. Chatbots facilitate convenient information seeking, application of expertise, and expedient conversation, based on two-way shopping experiences that remove many of the common pitfalls with traditional outlet/store shopping.
Chatbots fit into the modern ‘on the move’ lifestyle choices often associated with millennials and help continue the affiliation with peoples digestion of APP content and usage in periods of limited time availability.
Reason 4 – Stimulating brand conversation
Social media has revolutionalised how business and brands communicate with their current and potential audiences. There are more brand personalities active spanning social media channels than anyone could have imagined a decade ago, and social media is seen as a prerequisite for most marketing channels for business.
Chatbots can empower brands to take social chat and turn it into conversational commerce. A typical issue businesses face with social media is identifying the direct ROI from investment. When combining social media and chatbots, the two can forge a symbiotic approach to delivering ROI from brand chat and extended conversation.
As an example of this in practice – how many people recall the old @AskJeevesBot? Although it had fairly limited conversational functionality, it’s ever present ability to take Twitter search queries, respond to them, and point them in the direction of relevant content located within the Ask Jeeves content database, enabled 24/7 text communication between the brand and its immediate audience needs. Compared to recent developments with social media and chatbots, this interaction is already extremely dated, but the type of servicing of basic customer needs still very much has a place, when implemented effectively.
Chatbots encourage new, repeat, and longer conversations with the brand, enabling businesses to show a broader reflection and representation of their experience, expertise, and trust.
Reason 5 – Offering innovative solutions
The rewards of effective business innovation can range from expanding market share, differentiating the brand, carving a competitive edge over the competition, and myriad other factors. There are many great examples of chatbots doing exactly this, and it is a good time to reflect how chatbots can be integrated into your business offering.
Taken from ‘11 Examples of Conversational Commerce and Chatbots in 2016‘, it is clear the opportunities are almost endless. A great example of chatbots offering innovation is WeChat. In China there is a growing trend for being able to do everything in a single sitting. WeChat is a mobile APP which enables you to call a cab, order takeaway, send a drink order to the local Starbucks, get an appointment at your doctors, and pay your electric bill. All of this sits within a single chatbot APP and has led to 700 million monthly active users.
Tell me about your chatbot experiences – if you have used them for your business, it would be great to hear about any results you have seen. What have your conversation experiences with chatbots been like so far? If you have any questions, please also share them.
If you have any quesitons, please also share them.
Additional image credits:
- Smartphone penetration of m-commerce users in the UK – used with permission Textlocal