According to Kiplinger.com, eCommerce sales grew 16% in 2017, but consumers were ensuring retailers deserved to earn their cold hard cash before they handed it over. And contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t price that ultimately swayed their decision of where to buy, but the experience offered by that retailer/brand.
Consumers now know what a great customer experience looks like, and as a result, they’ve come to expect it. Gone are the days when your business was compared only with your direct competitors. Nowadays, customers compare your experience to those offered by hotels, restaurants, and all manner of other businesses. Bottom line – customers are more in control and often more up-to-date on the latest and greatest ways to conduct business – sometimes even more so than the brands/retailers they’re doing business with!
So, in an effort to give consumers the frictionless experience they’re demanding, an increasing number of brands and retailers are implementing AI-aided chatbots into their digital and customer care strategies. And the results are proving positive. According to a new survey by LivePerson, 38% of consumers globally rated their overall perception of chatbots as positive. While 80% of businesses have said they already use or are planning to use them by 2020!
But just what are chatbots and could they really help your business revolutionise its consumer experience? Today, we’re explaining what chatbots are, how they work, and some of the benefits associated with their use.
What is a chatbot?
Simply put, chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to translate input data into a desired output value and communicate that desired output value using human conversation. Inside the artificial intelligence of a chatbot are two things – machine learning, and what’s known as natural-language processing:
- Machine learning – Using algorithms (known as ‘neural networks’) that iteratively learn from data, machine learning allows computers to find hidden insights without being explicitly programmed where to look. In other words, through interactions with many consumers over time, chatbots learn better, faster ways to respond to common queries and provide consumers with the most relevant solutions.
- Natural-language processing – Natural-language processing gives computers the ability to pick up conversational cadences and mimic human conversation, which allow them to accurately mimic human speech patterns and tone when interacting with people. Which, in turn, allows them to create more intimate interactions with consumers.
What are the benefits of utilising a chatbot?
Here are ten ways chatbots are revolutionising the consumer experience and lead conversion rates:
1. Chatbots never sleep
Most customer support facilities operate standard office hours between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday… But what happens if a customer has an issue at 9pm or at 12pm on a Saturday afternoon? Hmmm, hardly the most satisfying customer experience on the planet, right? Enter the never-sleeping chatbot – an effective way to provide basic 24/7 customer support (without ever needing a break!).
2. Chatbots won’t make customers wait
On average, consumers spend 7 minutes waiting to be assigned a customer support agent. This is because us humans can only con concentrate on 3-4 things at the same time and are bound to make errors if we try to do any more. Chatbots on the other hand can simultaneously have conversations with thousands of people – no matter what time of the day or night it is. With chatbots, gone are the days of waiting for the next available operative – every single customer is answered instantly.
3. Chatbots help consumers make better choices
Chatbots like Winnie are designed to help consumers choose the best products and services for their needs, by pointing them in the right direction based on their needs and wants. By personalising the shopping experience, Winnie (which sits on Facebook Messenger) has achieved an incredible 72% CTR of users clicking through to an affiliate hosting provider.
4. Chatbots give you the opportunity to reach a bigger audience
Chatbots can be placed in a variety of places including Facebook Messenger, Viber, Slack, SMS, or on your own website. By giving your customers more options by which to contact support, you are opening yourself to a bigger audience who may not feel comfortable interacting with more traditional telephone support services.
Uber have also found that deploying a chatbot on a popular messaging platform, has enabled and encouraged more people to use its services. According to the company’s blog, “Powered by Uber’s API, Facebook Messenger now enables its millions of users to sign up for Uber with one tap and request a ride, all without having to leave Messenger or downloading the Uber app.”
5. Chatbots help build good customer relationships
Rude and aggressive customers can be the bane of a support agent’s working life and maintaining an agreeable tone throughout the interaction can be tough. Chatbots on the other hand, will never fail to be anything but pleasant and helpful towards even the most awkward of customers. Adam Devine, CMO of WorkFusion, summed this up perfectly when he said, “This may sound counterintuitive, but the most sophisticated chatbots can provide a more human experience than an actual human. They don’t have bad days and they don’t get frustrated by typical customers.”
6. Chatbots boost consumer engagement
Great content had successfully driven lots of traffic to RewardStream‘s website, however, readers still weren’t converting. So, the company decided to invest in a chatbot that would encourage website visitors at the most opportune moment. The result: 30% of their converted leads in the first 45 days were linked directly to the implementation of the chatbot!
Similarly, RapidMiner use the very friendly MarlaBot to greet consumers when they land on the company’s website. By asking a few simple questions, MarlaBot gets the conversation rolling before sales staff jump in to take over at the right moment. Tom Wentworth, CMO at RapidMiner, says “The bot isn’t about replacing a human. The bot for us is about augmenting and taking a user down a journey so then we can jump in at the right moment.”
7. Chatbots save your support agents time
While repetitive tasks (like resetting customer passwords) are taxing for even the most dedicated of employees, they are a chatbot’s best friend. In fact, they specialise in catering to simple queries. By integrating a chatbot into your support service to deal with common, more easily solved queries, your support agents are left free to handle more complex queries.
8. Chatbots are great analytics tools
As Aj Agrawal of Forbes explains, “Chatbots can be programmed to track purchasing patterns and monitor data from consumers. This tells a company which products to market differently, which to market more, and which to redevelop for relaunch.” Unlike most digital marketing platforms, chatbots can sift through data at lightning speed, picking out only the most relevant information to help you optimise things like sales scripts and ultimately push more engaged consumers down the sales funnel.
9. Chatbots are multilingual
Chatbots have the capability to speak whatever languages you need them to. Therefore, they can cater to customers worldwide – saving you the need to hire customer service specialists with different language skills or opening support centres in numerous countries.
Over 2 billion consumers used a mobile device to make some form of commerce transaction in 2017. In fact, mobile devices now account for 19% of US retail eCommerce sales – a figure that is estimated to reach 27% by the end of 2018. And with more mobile shopping comes more demand for mobile support.
Chatbots are already successfully integrating into a variety of messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. Which is useful as 1.4 billion people are now using messaging apps on a daily basis and Gartner Research are predicting that by 2019, requests for customer support through consumer mobile messaging apps will exceed requests for support through traditional social media.
As we’ve seen, the benefits associated with using chatbots to improve the customer experience are numerous. They have the potential to improve several areas of customer service, as well as converting potential consumers into customers. But what’s your opinion on chatbots? Do you think they would improve your consumer experience? Or have you used chatbots before? What benefits are you seeing from their use? Tweet us your thoughts @ChannelSight.
In a recent project with Duracell, ChannelSight created a shoppable chatbot that was hosted on Facebook, giving consumers another conversion path. Interested in finding out what a chatbot could do for your business? Get in touch today to see how we can help or book a demo.