Chatbots -  those little online ‘Can I help you robo-assistants’-  are fast becoming mainstream in key online environments. So why are chatbots so valuable to your business? When you surf online, you will notice that more and more chatbots are there: Helping you contact your live medical professional, advising on dog food and helping you accurately access your banking information. This is because the world over, businesses and consumers are starting to think of chatbots as essential to their pipeline communication. This is only set to increase as more and more consumers are coming to expect immediate service, because chatbots can offer 24 hour assistance and expertise. In fact, in the next 6-12 months, 85% of all online companies will implement chatbots and 30% of customer experiences can be handled by them.

What makes a good chatbot?

An effective chatbot comes down to how humanized and automated it is. It must be able to have effective conversation and understand the customer’s query. At the moment, around 59% of chatbots are not well-designed in this regard. Meaning they quickly become overwhelmed by tasks. This creates a negative customer experience, but this can be averted by using a well-designed and well-trained chatbot that can understand conversation and evolve as required. The higher the AI capabilities, the more conversational the chatbot and the better the human the experience. Examples of this can be seen in seamless transfer to live agents, offering welcoming and engaging messages, correctly answering FAQs and arranging scheduled call backs.

What are the benefits of chatbots?

After-hours sales

The interesting development is how chatbots are quickly moving into direct sales and impacting on a business’ bottom line. This is done by training chatbots with specific marketing and sales tools, and showing them how to direct customers to targeted landing pages in order to sell targeted products. The reality is that customers are online 24 hours a day. So having a chatbot that greets the customer immediately and answers questions correctly can welcome in potential customers and encourage purchase. This is a golden opportunity, especially when you consider that brands with superior service bring in 5.7 times more revenue. And 72 % of consumers say a disconnected experience would actually make them change brands.

Marketing and branding

The most important thing for a marketer is to establish and develop a dynamic brand. A key way to accomplish this is through repetitive positive customer experience. This develops customer loyalty and evokes a healthy image of your brand. Stats prove that 80% of customers who come into contact with chatbots, have a positive experience. So having a bot-brand ambassador available to your customer 24-7 will likely generate both leads and sales.

Monitoring data and gaining insight

Once your bot is chatting with customers, you are now able to track that data and gain a valuable sense of what the customer wants to know. This can then help you tweak and improve things along the way. Chatbots are also very good for tracking consumer buying behaviour by detecting patterns. All of this will streamline your products and services which is really good for business.

The bottom line

Chatbots can take your online presence from good to great. The value they bring can improve after-hours sales, lead generation, brand development and sales. This is already happening online and is set to rise in the months to come. This kind of live customer engagement is crucial and can help you meet and exceed the growing expectations and demand of online customers. The bottom line is that the way customers are now engaging with brands online is evolving and businesses are under big pressure to adapt with the times. The good news is that if you embrace this inevitable change, you will move ahead of the competition, improve consumer engagement and beef up your bottom line. Now who doesn’t want that?

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