A pretty hot topic, and something you’ll see cropping up on websites and inside apps increasingly often, chatbots are fast becoming every forward-thinking marketer’s go-to for communication with customers.
But, this begs the question; why are chatbots becoming so popular?
To answer this, we first need to establish exactly what a chatbot is, and where you can find one.
Simply, a chatbot is a computer program that automates specific tasks – using a conversational interface to interact with users and simulate human interaction to establish the needs of the user in question.
Typically, the most powerful bots use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to learn from every interaction they have.
Wherever there’s internet, a chatbot can be found. Chatbots are typically found in three places:
Particularly with the rise of voice search, brands are turning to chatbots for both their customer satisfaction and marketing efforts, and will soon be the norm for many brands the world over. The reasons for this being complex, varied, and utterly fascinating (we think!).
Although chatbots are essentially built on a series of ‘if-then’ statements, i.e. ‘if user says HELLO, then say HELLO, HOW CAN I HELP?’ they can be incredibly effective, particularly in terms of the overall user experience; positively affecting and providing the following:
A scalable way to interact with customers 1-on-1: as a human being, you can’t be on-hand to talk to every single customer or potential customer who visits your website or social media platforms; answering their questions, and solving their problems by providing suitable solutions. If you want to talk every single one of your customers, you have to take the blanket/generic approach by putting out an email or posting on social media. Chatbots provide a personalised, personable experience to each individual who interacts with your brand online.
Value to the user where they already spend time: in a consumer-driven, highly personalised, and information-saturated market, the monolithic modern user is in control and wants everything to be easy – to be handed information, and given the opportunity to access what they desire as quickly as possible. What the user doesn’t want is to switch between apps and browsers to carry out tasks or download unwanted apps just to do one thing. Modern marketing needs to cater for this, and remove all barriers which may stand in the way of users performing tasks. Often integrated with messaging apps, chatbots give users access to information where they already spend most of their time, and can be seamlessly integrated into what they’re already doing.
Benefit and use to the user: by providing the user with 1-to-1 attention; a place to answer their questions, help them purchase products, and find solutions to their problems, chatbots provide benefit and use to the user, rather than simply serving the brand in question, which in turn builds trust between user and brand. And trust is invaluable; a user that trusts a brand, is a user that acts as an ambassador for a brand – recommending it to their friends and family, sharing information about it on social media, as well as returning to it time and time again.
Not only this, but by communicating with users one by one, chatbots offer a great opportunity to help you learn from your customers; gathering feedback from them through conversation. And we all know how valuable customer feedback is – it helps your refine your brand, continually improve your offerings based on exactly what your customers want, and inevitably increase your sales.
As well as supporting users to find the information they’re looking for, by making communication personalised and conversational, chatbots make their overall experience more fun, and therefore your brand more fun.
As wonderful as chatbots are, if you don’t use them carefully, they can do more harm than good. A poorly programmed chatbot can frustrate any user, and see them never return.
So, before you jump into the realm of the chatbot, you should first consider these 3 things:
What you want to achieve: there’s no point in creating a chatbot just for the sake of having a chatbot and blending in with everyone else’s marketing efforts. First consider carefully what you want to achieve with your chatbot; will it help users find products, amplify content or act as a virtual customer service agent? Establishing an end result will help you establish functionality and tone of voice.
What information you need: as chatbots are simple computer programs that use an ‘if-then’ scenario to function, you need to pre-plan exactly the kinds of questions and responses your users will be asking; at least at the beginning, when your chatbot knows nothing about your users.
Where it will be placed: a chatbot placed in a messaging app will be required to perform different tasks to that of a chatbot on a website, for example. And is probably going to have a very different look and feel to it, depending on where it’s placed. Where it’s placed will also determine how and why users use it.
So, there we have it; why brands should be using chatbots!
Essentially, chatbots positively contribute towards:
And if you don’t have one, you should probably look at investing in one.
If you think chatbots are right for your brand, talk to us today.
Get in touch now - it could be the start of something special.