Chatbot: Hello! How may I assist you today?
Customer: Is this app available on iPhone 7?
Chatbot: Yes, the app is available on all iOs and Android platforms.
It is quite possible that you have engaged in an interaction similar to the above example in the past few months. If so, you have already experienced a chatbot! Chatbots, which are programs designed to emulate a conversation via text, are becoming a popular tool for small businesses and startups. It’s reminiscent of technology that’s been used by large companies to route phone calls for years.
Thanks to platforms such as Facebook Messenger, chatbots are readily accessible and easy to set up. New businesses with smaller staffs and lesser budgets are already benefiting greatly from this technology, so what are you waiting for?
Here are the top four benefits of using chatbots for your startup:
1. Provide a personalized, customer-driven experience
Chatbots are programmed to take the customer’s lead. For example, if a customer types a question in Spanish, a chatbot can be programmed to respond in Spanish. A chatbot can “see” which one of your webpages a potential customer is browsing and provide information based on it.
If it’s a returning customer, the chatbot may even know their name and purchase history, allowing for an even more personalized experience. With chatbots, customer’s actions drive the interaction. This allows the chatbot to provide a personalized experience that caters to that particular customer’s needs.
2. Reduce lead generation time
Depending on the product or service your company offers, the length of time between initial contact with a lead and the actual sale can vary. Products and services that have a high price point often experience a longer sales cycle. Fortunately, startups can utilize chatbot technology to vet leads and ultimately reduce the time spent between the initial contact and the sale. How? A chatbot can be programmed to ask questions to leads that are visiting your website. For example, you can use the chatbot to ask questions about the lead’s industry, number of employees and business needs. The chatbot then acts as a concierge by leading them to the appropriate web page or contact person.
3. Improve customer service
Chatbots are available 24/7. If a potential customer has a burning question at 2 a.m., your chatbot is there to help. Chatbots are also faster than humans, can be programmed to respond in different languages and are consistently polite. Often, their human counterparts grow weary of repetitive questions, but a chatbot is not subject to these emotions. Therefore, your customers can expect quality, consistent service that is always available.
4. Save time and money
Saving time and money are high on the priority list for entrepreneurs. Chatbots allow you to automate many customer service functions, so you can hire fewer employees. Chatbots also reduce time spent by the sales team vetting leads by funneling potential customers to the appropriate content or contact person.
How brands use chatbots
Large brands are already making use of chatbot technology. For example, you can request a Lyft by simply using a chatbot via Facebook Messenger or Slack. You can effortlessly make a reservation at a Marriott International Hotel without leaving Facebook. Cosmetics giant, Sephora, offers two chatbot services via Facebook Messenger. Its color match bot scans colors of makeup or clothing and shows you products that will match. It also offers a reservation service for those that want a makeover at a Sephora location. Many restaurants are also using a service called Chatbook, which allows customers to make reservations via Messenger and other chat services.
How to get started using a chatbot
The easiest way to get started with chatbots is by using the Facebook Messenger platform. Go to your business Facebook Page and click on the Messaging Settings.
From here, all you need to do is use the sliders to indicate when and how visitors interact with the Messaging service. You can prompt a visitor to send a message and set up automatic responses. Congratulations, you just set up your own basic chatbot!
If you are looking for a more robust chatbot platform, there are many options available. Chatfuel allows you to build a more robust chatbot within the Facebook Messenger platform. Platforms such as Collect.Chat and Botsify provide more options for integrating chatbots.
Setting up a chatbot is a simple way for your startup to provide personalized customer service while also saving your company time and money. The technology is also improving every day, with chatbots getting smarter and smarter. We can’t wait to see what the future holds and how chatbots will revolutionize business in the years to come!