Why Chatbots are Important for Business
Simply put, chatbots are a combination of artificial intelligence and messaging apps. The online community has become saturated with software programs using messaging for a variety of tasks from reporting weather, scheduling meetings to buying new clothing. Think of a chatbot along the lines of a virtual assistant but designed to engage in a human-like conversation. Brands from Mastercard, Stubhub, H&M, Sephora, and Burger King are using chatbots on messaging platforms such as Kik, SMS, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, and Slack. As chatbots continue to evolve and increasingly become the norm for brands, it’s important to learn more about them and how they can be used to benefit your business.
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a computer program powered by rules or artificial intelligence (AI) technology to conduct textual or auditory conversations. The goal is to create content which is more personable and personalized to the user experience. AI is getting smarter each day, and brands that are integrating chatbots with AI technology can deliver one-to-one individualized experiences with consumers. Robert Schwartz, VP of global digital marketing at IBM, said it best- “It’s one thing to redesign a digital experience, or make over a website or an app, but it’s quite another to add the power of thinking and cognitive computing into embedded experiences.” Enabling cognitive computing probably scares some people, especially after watching movies like I, Robot and Ex Machina where computer-programmed robots lose control and turn against humans. Whether you embrace the bots or don’t, the fact is chatbots are being used everywhere today, and you might not even know it.
Why should you care about chatbots?
A report by BI Intelligence found the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks. According to the report, chat app audiences are appealing to brands and marketers due to their usage and retention rates, size, and demographics. It’s important businesses tap into this large audience and find ways to monetize.
What can a chatbot do for a business?
Chatbots are easily leveraged by businesses and can add value and benefits in several ways. Bots offer you the advantage of one-to-one marketing as they interact with users. What this means is that literally millions of people can be talking to your business without human interaction or a live customer service staff. Bots are flexible by design which allows them to be used for a wide range of purposes. Here are just a few examples:
– Drive Sales Online and In-store – As consumers surf the internet, bots send targeted images based on previous purchases and surfing habits. Bots are also able to link to mobile commerce sites to allow consumers to purchase products directly from mobile devices.
– Drive Brand Engagement – More brands are choosing to use bots to deliver branded content. This works similarly to how a website, Facebook page or a blog has delivered content in the past. The difference being that the chatbot is not static, but personalized and interactive.
– Well-Suited for Mobile Uses – It’s safe to say the heart of the mobile experience is messaging. This is demonstrated by the rapid increase and development of chat apps. This gives your business access to virtually every customer with a mobile device.
– 24/7 Customer Service Availability – Chatbots offer your business continuous customer service without hiring additional staff. The bots can provide streamlined information and answers to questions or issues faster and more efficiently than a representative.
– Stronger Connections – Chatbots can remind you of an upcoming meeting. Better yet, they can be used to alert consumers to your upcoming webinar, podcast or broadcast. This increases consumer engagement by eliminating missed events from either end.
Chatbots might appear to be just a niche presently. However, most market predictions are pointing to the rise of the bots and how they change the way people interact with businesses. You may not see the need for a chatbot now, but in the next year or two, it is likely you will need to develop one for your business. For now, you can start thinking about what you want it to do for your business.