Business Tips

Chatbots 101: Why You Should Opt to Automate

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
August 24, 2017

The tech world is so hot on chatbots right now—and for good reason. New and improved bots can help companies of all sizes to enhance daily operations and strengthen business efficiency. But many local and smaller-scale brands still hesitate to have a robot converse with their customers or support business task lists. Business owners feel uncertain uncertainty as to how a chatbot will interact with their customers—or that they’ll be perceived as inauthentic or "cheating" by customers who prefer customer service strategies.

We get it. Chatbots can seem a little perplexing at first glance. The potential long-term benefits, however, make them far worth the initial adjustment period. Among the benefits from chatbots include a dramatic increase in both profits and efficiency for businesses, as well as enhanced customer service experiences.  

Furthermore, businesses can take precautions when introducing chatbots to their customers that will ensure that the interface goes up without a hitch.  To help expand your understanding – and possibly your horizons – of chatbots, consider the below points.

Save on Scroll Time

One of the most prevalent reasons businesses opt to use a chatbot is customer service. Chatbots can save customers tons of time when they’re looking for something on a company’s website, plain and simple. When customers come to a company’s website looking for a specific item or category, for example, they can simply tell the chatbot the item’s specifications and the chatbot can direct them to it.

Likewise, chatbots can be programmed to answer common customer questions, which can free up customer service associates to spend their time focusing on more complicated customer requests. Over time, it will be second-nature for customers to react and engage with chatbots in an effort to help them in their shopping experiences – as well as allow business to free up valuable employee time and overall business efficiencies.

When You Win, They Win

It’s a well-known fact that chatbots are helping businesses cut costs in competitive business environments. In fact, CNBC estimates that by 2022 they’ll help business save $8 billion in customer service costs. To get in on the action without alienating customers, be sure to be open and honest with your customers about your goals for the chatbot.

Ask for feedback on their experience with the technology and make sure you’re passing some of the savings from the chatbot on to them, as well. Your customers will be more forgiving of any initial inconveniences or kinks with your new interface when they can see how using the chatbot is saving them money on the items they love – and ultimately aiming to help strengthen their buying experiences.

Stick to The Basics

Chatbots are best received when they are used to complete specific basic tasks. For retail purposes, for example, chatbots can be used to help customers navigate a company’s website or to direct customers to items within a physical store… that said, the bot’s responses must be simple and catered to the situation at hand.

When retailers try to infuse their chatbots with too much “personality” right away, they run the risk of annoying or confusing their loyal customers. By only using your chatbot to complete basic functions, you eliminate the risk of overwhelming your customers and give them time to become accustomed to communicating with the new technology.

Offer Them An Easy Out

Chatbots shouldn’t be built to masquerade as people. Companies with widely accepted chatbots — such as Ebay, H&M and Sephora — are honest with their customers about the fact that they are interacting with a chatbot and that said chatbot may be able to more quickly direct them to an answer versus waiting for the next available human employee.

It’s equally important to give customers a way to speak with a human employee if the chatbot is unable to help them, should this be a goal of your company. Any business can learn from this when they recognize the real goal, however, is to offer value to customers while saving them time.

Just be honest and upfront so that there is never a misunderstanding among your customers as to whom or what may be supporting them.

Think Bot It

Chatbots can be a great asset for businesses looking to cut the costs of running their business operations. Despite the initial reluctance businesses or customers alike may have to interact with the technology, chatbots are increasingly effective additions to any company’s customer service team – and overall business operations. Increase your company’s profits while staying true to the spirit of your business with the help of chatbots – and by welcoming the future of business today in your operations. Explore Fiverr’s chatbot Gigs to see how easy (and inexpensive) implementing automation can be.

How do you use chatbots to support your small business/startup? Tell us in the comments below!

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of Retail Minded, the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and a regular contributor to various publications. Additionally, Reyhle is the Author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill and has been the Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014. Follow Reyhle on Twitter at @RetailMinded.
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