If you believed science fiction, the future was going to arrive in a blaze of laser beams and killer robots. The actual reality was that the future quietly arrived in a wave of automation, advances in AI, and machine learning. Instead of the T-800, we have seen the increasing use of chatbots in many areas of online interaction, especially in the field of e-commerce.
In fact, it is predicted that by 2024, consumers will spend $142 billion via chatbots around the world, a staggering figure when you consider the total spend was just $2.8 billion in 2019. With every sector that operates online now working 24/7, 40% of customers prefer bots to virtual agents and that number is likely to increase.
As we see increases in areas such as legacy app modernization, automated processes will increase too. So, if you are just looking to integrate chatbots to your marketing strategies now, how can you use them to enhance the customer experience and improve your organization’s results?
Here are 6 reasons you should be using chatbots and why.
Most companies now operate globally which means that your customers could be from any location (and thus any timezone). Customers do not want to wait for answers to questions that may affect their purchasing decision so you want a way to answer immediately (where possible). The use of IVR software and chatbots can help with that and an efficient chatbot platform can answer as much as 80% of all the questions it handles.
What about that 20% they can’t answer? It is easy to program your chatbots to escalate a query when they don’t have an answer. If you have human agents available, then they can be placed in a queue to speak to one of them. If you have no agents available, the customer can be sent a follow-up email. With chatbots, handling 80% of questions, it means your human agents have more time to handle that more difficult remaining 20%.
One of the primary aims of any type of marketing automation is to save money. But utilizing chatbots just won't save money, it can improve customer experience by having staff freed from answering common questions so that they can focus on more complicated issues and provide better customer support.
With up to 30% savings in operational costs, you can choose to invest those savings in other areas of your business or simply use them to improve your bottom line. With staff freed up to support customers better, you will see a streamlined workflow and increased productivity which means the customer journey is smoother and less painful.
You already know the importance of social media to your marketing strategy but did you know that chatbots can now be an integral part of that strategy? While there are more than 40 million businesses using Facebook Messenger to connect with customers, there are only around 300,000 chatbots being used in that same medium.
Installing chatbots to your Facebook business account is going to vastly increase your marketing opportunities and, ultimately, help boost sales and conversions. Many people prefer to contact a business via social media and utilizing an efficient chatbot means that customers can ask questions, seek product recommendations, and even complete a purchase via your chatbot system.
No one is saying email automation is a bad thing or that it should be replaced totally, but chatbots can take over some of the tasks you currently do with email marketing, and do it faster and simpler too. Rather than using an email channel, you can use your chatbot platform to have the same conversations and supply customers with the same info far faster and more efficiently.
It’s all about streamlining again; if you have a new potential lead, you can take them straight to your chatbot platform (usually via Facebook Messenger or similar) and can be driving that customer through your sales funnel within seconds. This can make the customer experience better too as they are not having to wait for emails then click on any links contained in emails.
Personalization is a no-brainer; after all, some 60% of consumers will become repeat buyers if they have a personalized experience. Chatbots can help you take personalization to the next level, especially when integrated with your CRM system, allowing chatbots to recognize returning customers and collect data on new customers.
Your chatbots will not only answer questions, but they'll also ask them too, meaning your CRM repository gains richer data that allows your chatbot to guide customers to recommended products and identify previous (or new) buying behaviors and patterns. As time goes on, and with the aid of machine learning (ML), your chatbots offer even better personalization.
One of the most frustrating aspects of marketing can be the amount of leads that go nowhere. There is increased use of proposal automation software and chatbots can improve your lead qualification process and can save time and money by only using human resources for leads that have real potential. This means an increase in real sales opportunities as well as better use of your agents’ time.
Using chatbots for conversational marketing qualifies leads quicker, especially when combined with the personalization aspects already mentioned. Bots may not be real people, but with ML, they can steer a conversation in different directions in ways that a webform could never do. That means they can sort the wheat from the chaff far easier and increase your conversion rates, making appointments or transferring to human agents where relevant.
Chatbots are here to stay and will continue to evolve and advance. Whether you use an AI chatbot for customer service or for leads, it can improve your operational efficiency. By implementing a chatbot platform that best suits your business type, you provide a better customer experience while reducing costs and seeing improvements in all-important KPIs such as conversion and retention rates.
Businesses will continue to see benefits of MLOps across the board as automated services and AI evolve and become more advanced. If you haven’t started using chatbots yet, maybe it’s time to embrace the future.
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica has also written for other domains such as SME-News and MarTech Series. Here is her LinkedIn.