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Benefits of Chatbots for Business

Benefits of Chatbots for Business

Linsey Knerl
Reading time: 7 minutes
Artificial intelligence (AI) has changed even the most basic business functions, including the way we interact with customers. As of 2018, many industries embraced AI chatbots as a way to handle simple transactions between their brand and the customer. Since chatbots have become more sophisticated, they’re being trusted to conduct more sophisticated interactions.
Experts predict that chatbots will handle 70% of customer service duties in the year 2022 (up from 15% of interactions in 2018). In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of chatbots and why many companies, even those in the B2B space, should consider using them.

What are chatbots?

A chatbot is a specific form of AI that primarily focuses on customer experience and is commonly used for the following interactions:
  • Answering questions
  • Tracking orders
  • Helping find a product or service
  • Initiating complaint resolution (including returns, repairs, or warranty service)
  • Directing customers to additional resources (such as product details, material data safety sheets, or directions for use)
  • Collecting customer feedback
  • Scouring social media for topics and trends to reply to
  • Monitoring social conversations for potential issues before they become serious
  • HR functions, such as hiring and employee satisfaction
There are conceivably hundreds of variations for chatbot applications in business, and they are limited only by their code. Businesses today can create their own chatbots or use pre-programmed platforms, such as the plug-and-play offerings from Facebook Messenger for business pages and shops.
Chatbots use proven forms of inputs, such as voice, text, and sentiment, to serve your needs. And as chatbot technology expands, we may see other inputs such as geo-location of the customer, voice tone and inflection, or facial recognition included in live chat customer support.
Chatbots In Action

Benefits of chatbots

Chatbots can have a positive effect on your business, provided they’re implemented correctly. A poorly-executed service won't boost your reputation and could even harm it. If you thoroughly vet your automated platform, however, and use just the features that make sense for your specific customer demographic, you can realize significant chatbot benefits to customers. Here are some ways chatbots are essential for business.

1. Improve customer service

Consider how chatbots can help your customer before anything else. Stats show that 80% of customer questions are made up of just a few topics. With this in mind, it’s possible to enjoy these perks of chatbots in your business:
  • 24/7 support: Customers shop at all hours of the day and night, but it’s impractical to staff for 2 a.m. questions from potential buyers. Chatbots bridge that gap to address simple questions and customer service requests even when your teams are sleeping or out of the office.
  • Easier purchases: Customers are more likely to finalize a purchase if the experience is simple and straightforward. You can elevate the experience of buying on-the-go, for example, through a voice assistant or a mobile app. Any time you can get the sale without redirecting to a cumbersome online web form is a win.
  • Quick resolution: The COVID-19 pandemic has put an additional burden on live call centers and forced many teams to work from home for more hours. But not all questions or problems need a human touch. Chatbots can address the staffing shortage with quick, templated answers and resolution advice traditionally read from a script by live teams.

2. Reduce human error

People make mistakes, and while chatbots can suffer from badly-written code, well-vetted platforms only do what you tell them to do. This helps you avoid any miscommunication or misinterpretations of policies, as well as potential hot tempers from a stressed-out customer rep who’s having a really bad day.
Chatbots work within preset parameters so orders, returns, and customer service responses follow your guidelines. The results may include more consistent customer experiences and fewer complaints.
Chatbot Learning

3. Lead generation/nurturing

You’ve heard the theory about needing multiple touches (or customer interactions) to make a sale. What if you could manage even half of those touches with a hands-off approach? Market even when your teams are offline with chatbots that answer questions, alert customers to special deals, and help build awareness about what you’re doing in the community.
While you may still need at least one or two customized interactions to bring a new shopper on board, chatbots’ conversational tone can use personal shopper data to make even automated messages feel unique. Plus, chatbot marketing benefits will only continue to evolve as we expand our understanding of consumer markets and how they respond to automation.

4. Scale at cost

Chatbot tools are very affordable to scale up or down, unlike hiring additional workers, which can take months of training and additional personnel budget. If you have a bump in customer requests due to a product recall, coverage of your business in the news, or a hot social media trend, you can often address these matters with automated messages.
This is especially true for informational requests, which may or may not drive extra sales. In that case, you can use them to handle customer inquiries without much additional outlay, which ensures you aren’t throwing more personnel budget at non-revenue-generating activities.

5. Personalization

Chatbots can be programmed to notice spending habits, recognize loyal customers, and target keywords to provide an experience that feels custom-tailored to the shopper. Since many natural language processing platforms use social media tools and channels, you can pass the data gathered from these tools to the chatbot.
Customers don’t have to log in separately for you to gather this data, either. If the chatbot is used at the business website, data like IP addresses and cookies can identify returning shoppers and include a thank-you note for repeat business along with each customer response.

6. Perform quality assurance checks

Chatbots gather data over time, so frequently asked questions or reported issues can provide metrics important in troubleshooting larger site issues. If customers repeatedly ask about how to start a return, for example, you may choose to feature that information more prominently on your website. Chatbot data is an invaluable feedback tool, because it acts in real-time and you can then access that data for years after the interaction.

7. Manage uneven markets

Do you know when your busiest day will be this year? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t always predict how demand for some consumer goods will skyrocket. From toilet paper and canning jars to homeschool books and wireless printers, the roulette wheel of consumer demand can make or break your customer support teams.
Chatbots, however, can fill the gaps and keep your customers feeling cared for as you adjust. Keep your response times and 24/7 support standards even during "rushes” to maintain customer satisfaction.

8. Internal tasks

We often think of our customers as those who buy from us, but employees are a kind of customer, too. Chatbots are handling more and more HR tasks these days, from taking feedback to answering common questions about time off, company policy, and benefits. While you want your team members to feel that there is a human they can go to with serious or personal issues, using a chatbot for more basic things can be groundbreaking.
If you find that your employees continually send the same type of standard emails or repeatedly ask the same questions on Microsoft Teams, consider putting together a corporate FAQ page. Then, feed this info into a Teams channel chatbot or one that works with your internal emails for snappy and accurate answers to top questions.

The future of chatbots

What is the greater purpose of chatbots? While the aim is to alleviate pain points in your customer service or fulfillment departments, you should ultimately seek to resolve customer issues first and foremost.
While more than 50% of B2B tech vendors claim that the technology will help them sell better, only 10% of customers say they felt that chatbots are a positive selling point. The disconnect could be that customers have a lot to learn about how they may already benefit from chatbots, unbeknownst to them. Education may solve this issue.
Or, it could be that businesses aren’t thinking about the customer experience first and are instead using chatbots to only solve internal bottlenecks. Without putting the customer first, chatbots may feel like an impersonal or unnecessary step in a selling approach.
As more chatbot functions become widely used and available through plug-and-play platforms, we may see a more natural alignment between customer expectation and business offerings. In the meantime, consider looking at chatbots as a service, and not just as a solution to internal woes.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech@Work. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.

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