Chatbots are deployed by businesses as a form of marketing or process automation. As far as there are many underlying terms and technicalities about this tool, the simplest way to understand about chatbots is to know which types of bots can help businesses. 2019 is going to be an exciting year for the development of online marketing and chatbots. As we advance (pun intended) a step closer to the future, these five types of bots will be a good start to your bot journey.
#1 Customer Service Bots
Number one rule of a successful business is successful customer service. Online marketplace giant Amazon owes its massive success to efficient customer service. Companies have invested in a lot of time and money in hiring and training customer service reps to answer to customers’ queries, concerns and complains. We might have personally spoken to them on the phone, email, social media or live chat when we needed help with a product or service.
However, this job will not last very long from now. People do not want to work in an environment where they will listen to naggings, repeating themselves to the customer in order to help them with an issue. Let’s face it too, the pay isn’t that good. Despite all these problems, your businesses still need to provide tip-top and efficient customer service so that your buyers will keep coming back again and again.
When prospects think of chatbots, they often think about their uses in customer service. They think about how to get a quick answer to questions. They think about how to get resolution to a problem. They think about how to get a more detailed answer to a question. They think about finding the best way to communicate with your business. Around the clock, 24 hours a day.
So why do chatbots and customer service go hand-in-hand so wonderfully?
Advancement in AI
Smart artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities mean that chatbots can help predict what the customers need or want to buy. Chatbots can fetch data such as purchase history, customer demographics and additional machine learning to make a predictive and proactive approach. These capabilities make chatbots stand out compared to reactive upselling approach outside of email.
Popularity of Chat Apps
Many social media platforms are integrating chat functions into their platforms. According to Facebook’s statistics, 53% of people who chats with a business are likely to buy from a business they can message. Most of these chat functions uses chatbots to help respond to questions faster. They give your businesses a new way to get in front of your customers where they already are.
Low Costs of Development
There are a number of apps and tools online that allows you to launch your own chatbot strategy and begin testing its effectiveness with your customers. The upfront cost is not big. However, you will need to spend your own time working on conversation mapping. There are digital agencies that offer bot building and maintenance services if you want to outsource the work.
Becoming More Conversational
The algorithm connecting a bot to a human is called natural language processing (NLP). Think of it like teaching a toddler to speak. This is a programme written to help the chatbot learn about the conversational flows and what the human actually needs or wants from it. The more advanced bots may seem like a human talking to you, although we don’t encourage bots to behave like humans. That is scary! The bot will admit that it is only a virtual assistant helping its human owners work faster.
#2 Transactional Bots
Sales teams of growing businesses can leverage on chatbots to perform many tasks. Often, salespeople have a lot of work to do when prospecting or closing a sale. Leads can come from many various sources, but qualifying the leads and follow up with them takes time. The sales cycle can also become much longer in B2B transactions as there will be many steps of approval and negotiation before the contract is signed.
Think of a chatbot as an added helping hand online when improving the sales process. It can quiz a lead automatically with qualifying questions to filter out the better prospects of your businesses. Let’s take real estate agents for example: When you are working to get clients for your new condo launch, you would want to target higher net worth individuals who meet all the requirements to purchase a condo unit. The bot can give you the exact list of prospects in these criteria so your closing process will be simpler and much more efficient.
If you are a restaurant owner, the bot can help you make a reservation or even place an order on behalf of your staff or yourself. This frees up much more time for you to focus on other tasks to grow your business. The same can apply to retail or e-commerce businesses. Many bot platforms can execute a payment gateway.
#3 Informational Bots
Before any sale can take place, the prospect or customer must gather enough information about your product or service. This will help them in their purchasing decision. Information can be gathered from many sources, including the business’ website, social media pages, events and publications. Most of the time, the consumers will be the one finding the information themselves. When businesses share such information, they will spend some time gathering them and sharing them with prospects.
This is where chatbots come in and change the game.
Imagine having a prospect receive information directly in their mobile through push notifications. Not only he or she gets to read the information straight away, but also able to click on a link that directs him or her to the product page (or service agreement). News portals are sending breaking stories directly to the readers’ smartphones. Traffic updates are sent directly to the mobile. Students can receive the next assignment or notes in their phones. These are all perfect examples of how chatbots can be informational and educational.
#4 Assistant or Support Bots
Larger companies may employ assistants to help perform various tasks. The salary might not be as competitive for this job, but many of these tasks are too mundane or repetitive. If any tool can provide assistance and support to both businesses and customers, a chatbot will be ideal.
Many people envision these bots will someday become navigators of all other bots that are out there now. Users can ask the assistant bot to fetch data like bank balances, nearest restaurants or meeting schedules. Assistant bots need to be conversational and respond to almost anything, while being entertaining to maintain user interests.
A great example is Siri. While ‘she’ only does so much, people continually ask her for things simple because the response she gives tend to be amusing. When building an assistant chatbot, it is important to make it as obvious as possible how the bot is trained. The range of questions a user might ask is very big, so having sufficient coverage is going to be the most difficult factor. In most cases, people do not know what they should ask. If you miss it, they would probably not come back for more.
#5 Conversational Bots
Sometimes, people need to talk to someone (or some thing). Conversational bots are similar to assistant or support bots. The aim is to have a conversation with a human in some way or another. As more businesses are venturing into the digital world, the ones that stood out are those building a proper relationship with their customers. The only way to bridge a connection between businesses and users is being conversational.
How do we build more conversational bots?
There are rules for everything in life, so does the chatbot. Understand what the user actually needs or wants, then design the bot to move towards that objective. A chatbot will not do what you didn’t programme it to do. It will not rebel. For example, if you want the chatbot to recommend a product to your customer, create one that will understand keywords, fetch relevant data and provide useful links to the users for better decision making.
Retrieve and Receive Feedback
Users can tell the bot what they want. This allows information and data gathering. This gathering will let the chatbot furnish answers and feedback closer to what the user wants. As chatbot development are still in the early stages (therefore, seize the chance now!), It cannot respond to all queries by the user. Nonetheless, a great bot will prompt the user to speak to a human through a link given by the bot. We aim for 50/50 bot-human interaction when users talk to businesses online.
Give. Give. Give. When we humans have a conversation with another person, we like to tell stories and provide useful information. Same goes with chatbots. Develop a bot that can engage and entertain a user. That way, users will keep coming back for more conversations.
Wrapping It Up
Chatbots are the one of the pinnacles of business innovation and development. Look out for the best bots in 2019 – Customer service bots, transactional bots, informational bots, assistant bots and conversational bots. To start, you can choose a few from the list depending on your business goals. The most rewarding challenge will be to combine all these bots into a superhero chatbot! Not today, but one day.