Chatbots have the potential for exponential growth. A recent Oracle study found that 80% of those surveyed planned on using chatbots for customer service by 2020, and 36% had already begun implementing them.
Why? Artificially intelligent chatbots can access multiple streams of data to perform instantaneous, on-demand services, such as answering FAQs about your business that you might otherwise spend hours fielding on your own, handling customer orders, and even offering personalized recommendations for future purchases.
Chatbots often work via a standard chat interface, such as Facebook Messenger, iMessage, or WeChat. With the number of mobile messaging users expected to top 2 billion by 2018, it's no wonder that more and more businesses are using chatbots on messaging platforms. And who loves chatting (or, you know, texting)?
Yes, you got it: millennials. Chatbots hold a special appeal for this group, and are therefore ideal for any business or brand whose target audience includes millennials. Why?
- Millennials have been familiar with chat interfaces since the days of AOL, and are likely to prefer chatting to sending emails or calling customer representatives.
- Microsoft recently found that nine out of ten customers expect companies to offer 24/7 online self-service. Chatbots provide the instantaneous service that Millennials (and the rest of us) have come to expect.
- Chatbots are incorporated seamlessly into Millennials' lifestyles, as they work with apps, such as Facebook Messenger, that have already been installed.
- Chatbots simplify purchasing decisions. They can access customer data (such as previous transactions) and offer reasonable suggestions for specific consumers.
But Millennials will only bond with your artificially intelligent agents if you ensure that your chatbots are both functional for users and beneficial to your brand. Keep the following in mind as you build your bot.
- Create a consistent brand voice for your chatbot. First, make sure you understand your current brand voice. Is it casual and colloquial? Humorous? Or more formal? Your chatbot should follow that style.
- Identify what types of interactions your chatbot will have. What is its primary purpose? Will it assist with payments? Engage potential customers who visit your website? Whatever you choose, make sure that your bot's automated services are adding value to your business by benefiting you.
- Focus first on making your chatbot do one thing well. While you might eventually choose to build a genius bot, it's best to start by having a bot that can do one thing well and will bring the most benefit to your target audience.
- Work out all possible conversation flows that users could have with your bot. Identify various scenarios and determine how your bot will respond. The more cases you come up with, the better your bot will be.
- Plan how your chatbot will handle non-standard requests. What if the request is vague or irrelevant? What if a customer is angry and demands to speak to an actual person? Some experts advise against having your chatbot pretend to be human and suggest that you be as transparent as possible with your users. Customers will trust you and will be more forgiving of any mishaps if you are up front with them about your use of chatbots.
- Whether or not your bot assumes a human persona, decide how and when chatbots will refer customers to real representatives at your company. And then make sure that you have staff on hand to deal with more complicated requests.
Millennials are an important target audience, and, as digital pioneers, are primed to become avid embracers of chatbots. Small businesses and lean entrepreneurs will benefit by building bots that not only simplify their own day-to-day activities but also appeal to this lucrative customer base.
How have chatbots supported your business and helped you connect with millennials? What are other important tactics to keep in mind? Tell us in the comments below!