Chatbots are computer programs that mimic actual conversations. Businesses these machine fulled Chatbots pave the way for brands to communicate with their customers real-time through any type of device (usually mobile or tablet).
But what exactly are chatbots? Are they useful? How can you use them? And why do they present such a huge opportunity for businesses? All of these questions and more will be answered one by one.
What are Chatbots?
A chatbot is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) computer software that simulates conversations between two people. This program uses natural language and may be incorporated in messaging applications, handheld devices or websites. Once installed, the AI software interacts with a human user as naturally as possible.
While the concept is not entirely new, the use of chatbots has become a fad in recent years. Some techies believe that chatbot trend first began following the launch of Facebook’s Messenger app three years ago.
In addition to leveraging your company’s website, chatbots are also considered as popular marketing tools. The trend may need to find its way to other countries but in Europe and South Africa, a great majority of senior marketers said they are already using or planning to use chatbots to reinforce their marketing campaigns by the year 2020.
Survey also shows that 60 per cent of people using chatbots is between the ages of 13 and 19. This means that more and more young people will start using chatbots in the next few years. With younger generations deeply attuned to the digital world and perhaps the only ones who can keep up with new technologies, it is easier for them to embrace AI programs like chatbots.
Businesses whose target markets are the youth can also benefit greatly from the use of chatbots.
Are Chatbots Important?
Although the answer would vary, chatbots are useful in many ways. They are considered innovative and promising, bridging the communication gap between humans and machines. In a more technical standpoint, however, chatbots are a manifestation of technological evolution.
It’s basically a system that aid in customer or client enquiries, helping the customer service department focus on more important customer concerns. Imagine downloading all your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) content to a robot that automatically types them on screen if customers happen to ask the right questions.
Another benefit of chatbot applications is that they streamline interactions. Businesses do not have to hire a person to answer all basic enquiries. They can just delicate such a task to a chatbot. In this sense, companies can operate efficiently rather than spend a chunk of their budget training customer service staff to answer basic customer questions.
This is not to say you’ll have to leave everything to the AI. Machines have their limits – much more so than humans. Which is why it is important to delegate some staff to monitor, configure and optimise chatbot performance. You can also request for customer feedback to identify areas of improvement.
How Do You Use Chatbots?
Chatbots have many uses. But in the aspect of business development and digital marketing, you can use chatbots in two ways. First, as a feature on your website. Second, as a feature on your messaging app. As more and more people use their mobile devices to communicate (read more about mobile first-index here
), messenger apps have become increasingly relevant.
What Opportunities Do Chatbots Present?
Many forward-looking entrepreneurs would agree that chatbots are the future of branding. They offer some of the best platforms for interacting with your customer real-time, wherever they might be on the planet.
Facebook and Twitter have long since embraced the “bot life” by incorporating features that allow users or companies to pre-program messages. For example, if there is no social media staff to answer customer queries through social media, a pre-inputted message would automatically pop up telling the user to stand by as the staff is away or to place their order immediately with a call-to-action link.
With chatbots, brands can show to their customers just how responsive they are. Gone are the days of call centers, which tend to make callers impatient while waiting for the next available agent. Chatbots can give you suggestions. Business chatbots, like Air Asia for example, connect to the FAQs page, thereby saving time and resources for both company and customer.
Are Chatbots Good for SEO?
If you have decided to use chatbots for your business, make sure to code lightly. Chatbot apps can add more weight to your homepage, which will ultimately affect its search engine performance. Keep the coding light, simple and easy for your customers to navigate.
In the area of UX (user experience) and responsiveness, chatbots are definitely ideal. They give your customers a better experience of your website. Simultaneously, a chatbot projects the impression that your company is always willing to help customers at any time of the day – definitely a big plus to your customer service.