Why it’s time your business went all in on chatbots

Building and maintaining customer relationships used to be as simple as assigning a personable, responsible account rep to handle questions or concerns. Not anymore.

Calls and emails into a contact center are effectively being replaced with a slew of social-media options perfect for immediate — and very public — responses to customer inquiries. Over the past decade or so, Facebook changed the customer-engagement game with its creation of Facebook Pages. Twitter feeds quickly followed as a preferred way to communicate with brands across the spectrum, and social customer care was born.

Now, the game is changing again — this time with a little help from artificial intelligence, or AI. Businesses continue to evolve their models to meet customers where they live, which has led forward-thinking and savvy companies to explore chatbots for messaging platforms.

More than 11,000 bots came online soon after Facebook released a bot-development platform for Messenger. Since then, bots have proliferated across other messaging media like Kik, WhatsApp, Slack, Snapchat, and Skype. The numbers are staggering. And with messaging apps already surpassing social-media networks in popularity, those figures will continue to climb.

All of this prompts the question: “Does my business need a bot?”

Yes, your business needs a chatbot

Gartner projects that more than 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020, and chatbots are also expected to be the No. 1 consumer applications of AI over the next five years, according to TechEmergence.

If those numbers don’t sway you, then perhaps this will: Your competitors are already on board with bots and using them to build an army of loyal, engaged customers through interactive self-service and innovative relationship-building programs.

For example, Taco Bell’s TacoBot lets customers order on Slack chat. The beauty-brand giant Sephora lets customers skip a trip to the store by fulfilling makeup orders on the messaging app Kik. And Ticketmaster customers can now use a new website chat widget — built on the Chatbot web application development Platform from Inbenta, a pioneer in natural language processing, or NLP, and AI technologies for customer support and enterprise e-commerce — to ask questions regarding their order or learn about other events of interest through the automated recommendations function.

Examples of creative bot use abound, and businesses not willing or able to get ahead of the trend risk losing otherwise loyal customers to more dynamic, inventive competitors.

How to integrate chatbots into your business

A chatbot utility is limited only by your own creativity and imagination. But if you’re looking for a simple, sensible way to use one, then customer-support messenger bots offer one of the best entry points for any business.

NLP technology allows your business to create custom bots that take on your brand’s personality and voice by leveraging existing communication systems and your knowledge base to connect directly with customers in their everyday, informal language. You can use the bot for everything from helping a customer reset a password or getting an updated account balance to finding a specific discount item on your site.

Providing customers with a personalized chat experience — even without a live agent on the other end — can help a business stand out and, more important, create new opportunities to transform repeat customers into influential advocates and evangelists.

To learn more about incorporating chatbots into your business, download the “Ultimate Guide to Chatbots for Business” e-book.

This post is sponsored by Inbenta.

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About author

Thao Nguyen

I am working as a Marketer at S3Corp. I am a fan of photography, technology, and design. I’m also interested in entrepreneurship and writing.