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By now, you’ve heard about chatbots. I know, because over the past few months calls and questions keep coming through about them.
The biggest question?
“Does my company need a chatbot?”
Well, the answer is, “Yea, probably.”
However, before you blindly go and choose a random chatbot for your website, let me give you the rundown. Below you’ll learn:
- What a chatbot is
- How chatbots work
- How chatbots benefit your business
Questions at the end? Contact us here »
What Is a Chatbot for Business?
A chatbot is a program or piece of software that automatically responds to messages sent over a website chatbox, email, or text. One chatbot example you’re probably familiar with is the free Facebook chatbot. Aside from using free chatbots that come integrated with social media messaging apps, you can also use chatbot development services or a DIY chatbot builder to build your own.
I’ll break it down by giving you an example you’re probably familiar with: calling your bank or a credit card service.
Chances are this has happened to you during one of those calls: After you’ve called the number, an automated voice (usually a woman’s) comes on and gives you a few options, which you can choose by pressing a number or saying something.
Based on the number you choose, a voice asks, “Okay, thank you. To better assist you, can you tell me what you need help with?”
You’ll briefly say what you need help with, and an automated voice will respond again. Based on what you say, the automated voice will either connect you with a live person in the right department or take you through a few more automated steps to complete whatever it is you needed to.
Switch out that phone call and automated voice with a website chatbox, email, or text, and a chatbot, and congratulations—you now understand what a chatbot is.
What Is Chatbot Marketing
Chatbot marketing refers to using a chatbot program to automatically interact with website visitors and prospects in order to gently nudge them further down the buyer’s journey. It’s catching on, and quickly—according to data from Facebook, more than 2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses monthly.
I’ll give you an example, and one that most of you are probably familiar with: hiring an HVAC contractor.
Let’s say, in this example, a working mother of two has just gotten home to a stuffy, hot house—and the forecast is calling for higher temperatures later in the week. Thanks to how loud—er, rambunctious—her kids are, there’s no way she can contact an HVAC company over the phone, and she doesn’t want to wait 24 hours for a response from an email inquiry.
Enter a chatbot.
While she’s looking at the website, a chatbox pops up:
Chatbot: “Hello, and welcome to Acme HVAC! What can I help you with today?”
Working Mom: “I need air conditioning repairs ASAP”
Chatbot: “…. ….. Okay, we have three appointments available tomorrow: 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 2:00 pm. Do any of those times work for you?”
Working Mom: “I can do 11 am.”
Chatbot: “… … Great! Let me gather a bit more information from you, and we’ll get you set for air conditioning repairs tomorrow at 11:00 am.”
After collecting some information, the chat ends with an appointment for the next day.
How Chatbots Work
There are two different types of chatbots: ones based on programmed rules, and ones based on machine learning or artificial intelligence.
Rules-based chatbots are programmed with if/then scenarios, like decision trees. While you can program it with as many rules as you want, it can’t function outside those programmed rules—making its capabilities to interact with customers limited.
Who Should Use Them: If your needs are simple and/or your budget is low, a rules-based one may be fine.
Machine Learning or AI Chatbots
AI chatbots are programmed to understand the context and intent behind requests and return custom, real-time answers. These types of chatbots use natural language and get smarter the longer they function.
Who Should Use Them: While they’re great for every company, companies that have a lot of data behind their website or platforms, have aggressive marketing and sales goals, or want a higher level of personal touch should definitely opt for this type of chatbot.
What Are the Benefits of Chatbots for Businesses?
One of the main things customers ask when asking us about our chatbot, Blue Corona Chat, is “what are the benefits of chatbots for businesses,” or “why should my business install a chatbot?”
Here’s the answer: You should install a chatbot if you want at least one of these three things:
- Help with lead generation and sales
- Help with (or better) customer service
- Increased revenue
How Chatbots Help with Lead Generation and sales
Website chatbots can help you generate more leads and sell more products or services. According to Facebook’s research, 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses they can message.
Think about that for a minute—if 80% of your competitors have installed chatbots and that’s how 85% of customer communication is done…
On the flip side, imagine being one of those companies who gets in the chatbot game early. According to Lead Connect, businesses who respond to leads within the first minute get a 391% boost in sales conversions.
After five minutes, the odds that lead becomes a sale decreases 10 times for each minute that passes. If you have a chatbot and your competitor doesn’t…
How Chatbots help you with Customer Service
Facebook found that 56% of people would rather message than call customer service.
I’m one of those people. Almost every person I know is one of those people.
Why? Basically, because chatbots make it easy to get exactly what you need in a fraction of the time it would take for you to accomplish the same thing via a live customer service representative.
Chatbots also take a lot of the frustrations out of needing customer assistance—according to Drift’s State of Chatbots report, the most common frustrations reported by consumers included websites being hard to navigate (34%), not being able to get answers to simple questions (31%), and basic details about a business—like address, hours of operations, and phone number—being hard to find (28%).
Here’s how chatbots help customer service: They make it faster and easier for people to communicate with your company. The number one complaint people have about calling a company is how long it takes for someone to answer, and then go through the automated voice responses, and then finding the right person, yada yada yada.
Here’s how people use chatbots, according to the State of Chatbots report:
- 37% of people who use chatbots want a quick answer in an emergency
- 35% of people who use chatbots want to resolve a complaint or a problem
- 35% of people want detailed answers or explanations
- 33% want to make a reservation or book something
- 34% of people want to find a customer service assistant
- 29% of people want to pay a bill
- 27% want to buy a basic item
- 22% want to get ideas or inspiration for purchases
- 22% want to add themselves to a mailing list
- 18% want to communicate with multiple brands on one platform
Chatbots Help Your Business Increase Revenue
Think of all those reasons I listed above people say they use chatbots for. You’d have to have an army of customer service reps (and the salaries or hourly rates that come with them) in order to do all the above as quickly and efficiently. Do you have that kind of cash? Think of what you could do with all that money you’re saving.
I mentioned above a chatbot service can increase leads and sales. But what’s the overall impact? It can increase your revenue by 25% and give you 10x ROI.
Chatbots vs Live Chat: Which Is Better?
The main difference between live chat and chatbots is that live chat depends on actual human customer service, while chatbots remove the need for an actual customer service representative.
There really isn’t a solid “which is better” answer—they’re both great for different things. For example, if you tend to have complex customer service questions and have the budget for a live customer service representative, live chat might be a better option.
However, if you’re looking to optimize marketing costs, a chatbot will help you save money. Chatbots are also preferred for simple questions, like tracking a package or setting an appointment.
Another option is to find a chatbot service (like Blue Corona Chat) that allows you to switch between a live chat and an AI-powered chat.
Blue Corona Chat: One of the Best Website Chatbot Services Out there
The best chatbot services (including ours, Blue Corona Chat):
- Offer AI with natural language processing to analyze the intent of the person chatting and predict behavior
- Don’t stop at website chat, but also accommodate text and voice
- Allow unlimited chat activity with no usage limits
- Allow multiple team members to get notifications
- Have complete automation which will complete chats without you having to touch it
- Hybrid live chat when you want to jump into the conversation
- Customizable conversation templates
Blue Corona Chat analyzes the query written by a customer and automatically responds within 3 seconds, so customers still feel like they are chatting with a person. The result? Chat completion rates that are 40% higher than that of other live chat platforms.
Blue Corona Chat not only allows you to instantly connect with users on your website, but also respond immediately to questions and messages on social media and SMS as well. Our proprietary technology can now automatically respond to customers who are trying to text your landline or VOIP number.
If you’re ready for more leads and better customer service, we’re only a chat away!
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's Digital Content Manager. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod