If you have been tuned in on the internet the last few years, you have likely interacted with a chatbot. What is a chatbot? A rudimentary google search will tell you that a chatbot is “a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.” In other words it is an artificial person which holds conversations with any users. A Robot that chats. 😉
However, they are now becoming much more than that. Chatbots often live in popular messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, or WhatsApp. They are frequently built to answer common questions in an efficient manner. However, chatbots are now being utilized in other situations. Websites and mobile apps can house their very own customized chatbots. There are also smart chatbots that are powered by artificial intelligence to learn from each conversation they have and respond to more commands.
Before we dive into the benefits of chatbots, it is important to define what you will use your first chatbot for. Chatbots can be used to accomplish many things, such as:
- Generating and Qualifying Leads
- Answering Questions
- Strengthening Existing Website Copy
- Allowing for 24/7 Communication
Without understanding what problem you need a chatbot to resolve, it will be hard to properly set up. Think about your buyer personas, your business needs, and much more.
Improved Customer Service
When a person visits a website in search of assistance, they want an answer now. Chatbots are used to streamline customer service. They are always available. This availability and a built-in knowledge base helps to solve simple or common problems that customers experience. More complex issues can be passed on to a support agent within a company. This helps to eliminate time that would otherwise be wasted on common questions and allows a company to allocate resources to more important issues.
Aside from customer support, chatbots can also be used in sales. For example, if a customer is visiting a retail site in search of a product, they have typically had to search through multiple lists and pages to get the exact product they require. A chatbot can take a specific request and sift through data much faster. Simply tell the bot exactly what you need and it will find it immediately. This cuts down on time required to buy a product and often makes the buying experience much more enjoyable.
Chatbots are also extremely effective at generating and qualifying leads. Good sales professionals will tell you that qualified leads are the key to their success. A chatbot, through a series of questions, can qualify and disqualify potential leads so your sales people only talk to people willing and ready to buy. The best part? Your chatbot can even schedule your meeting for you!
STRENGTHENS MARKETING EFFORTS
Chatbots are also useful when marketing to potential prospects. As a website visitor that is conducting research online may have a chatbot engage them and offer specific solutions. They can give a basic description of services that are offered, as well as filter prospects to specific pages where they can be helped. CTA’s can be embedded in canned responses to certain inquiries. Contact information can also be gathered for further communication efforts or campaigns.
As chatbots continue to get smarter, contextualization is becoming smarter and smarter. When done right, your chatbots won’t feel intrusive. Instead, their presence will be welcome. Armed with data from your CRM, you can start to create extremely personal experiences.
This contextualization could be as simple as checking if a website visitor has any questions about your pricing, while they are on your pricing page. It can also be much more complex, such as alerting a website visitor about an upcoming event you are hosting, since you know they live in the area.
Chatbots in their infancy felt intrusive and weird to interact with. Through contextualization, companies have found ways to make interacting with chatbots not only useful, but enjoyable.
How We Are Using Chatbots For Clients
We created a chatbot for our client Homebid+ on their website. It gathers information from first time visitors starting with their name and contact information. After speaking with the HomeBid+ team, we identified several key pieces of information that they hoped to uncover.
One key segmentation in their target audience is buyers and sellers. Their product is used completely differently if you are a buyer or seller. Segmenting these leads immediately allows HomeBid+ to tailor their messaging moving forward.
A buyer is asked a completely different set of questions moving forward. So is a seller. If they meet the remaining qualifications, such as living in the Tampa Bay area, then they are told they will be contacted in the next 24 hours by a member of the team.
Each time someone makes it to this point, the HomeBid team receives an email and takes the necessary steps.
As you can see, this chatbot is excellent at generating and qualifying leads. As we continue to learn more about their website visitors, we will continue to make this bot stronger and more contextual.
Inbound and Beyond
In the end, chatbots help to provide the right content to the right person at the right time. In terms of inbound marketing, this is critical. An inbound marketer’s job is to anticipate a prospect’s questions and problems and have solutions ready to go. The end-user experience is a big focus and you want to make it simple. This helps to attract leads and delight customers.
What experiences have you had with chatbots? Give us your best story in the comments.