Chatbots already are a widely-used solution for customer service, sales, and support processes. The continuous growth of technology processing natural language with AI (artificial intelligence) is expected to cause a massive growth in retail sales (reaching $112 billion by 2023). Chabot’s will not only increase retail sales, with it will also cause an increase in savings due to the automation of customer sales, customer service, and support processes. “Retailers can expect to cut costs by $439 billion a year in 2023, up from $7 billion this year, as AI-powered chatbots get more sophisticated at responding to customers,” claims Juniper Networks after conducting a study that examines retail brands.
The same study shows that switching to chatbot technology makes consumers feel more comfortable interacting with chatbots to solve customer service issues and make direct purchases. The interest in chatbot experiences from brands in on the rise, and a large number of consumers have already had a generally positive interaction with chatbots.
What are chatbots?
A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation through artificial intelligence. Bots are software that performs an automated task, while chatbots in particular are the class of bots that are used in online chat platforms or on social media. To understand better what a chatbot is, it is also useful to know what a chatbot is not:
- A bot that converses with a human in the way another human would converse with a human – this is not possible using the current technology. However, Ray Kurzweil, an inventor, futurist, and engineer at Google predicts that chatbots will reach human-level language ability by 2029 and people will be able to have meaningful conversation with AI
- A robot – a misconception caused by science fiction. This probably the reason why most consumers (around 75%) want to know whether they are chatting with a chatbot or a human, and 50% of these people considered chatbots pretending to be human “creepy”
- A program communicating only through text or voice – there are also bots that use graphical interfaces or graphical widgets, and the trend is in this direction.
The concept of conversation is central to a chatbot, although a chatbot’s capabilities to converse with a human are limited, and end users should be aware of these limitations.
According to the Chatbot Magazine, there are three types of chatbots and choosing the one that’s right for you allows you to get the best results.
- Menu or button-based chatbots
They are the simplest type of chatbots and are based on tree hierarchies presented to users in the form of buttons. They are similar to phone menus that we use every day and their main disadvantage is that you need to make several selections to reach the ultimate answer. Also, they are unsuitable for situations with too many variables or when they need to predict human behaviour.
- Keyword recognition-based chatbots
These chatbots use customisable keywords and AI to determine the right response to the user. Their limitations are obvious when they need to answer multiple similar questions using the same keywords, but having different meanings.
- Contextual chatbots
They are the most advanced chatbots and use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to learn and grow by remembering previous conversations. Contextual chatbots are able to self-improve and will eliminate unnecessary steps when they’ve already had a conversation with a specific client. For instance, they can determine the most common food order for a client and ask them if they want to order the same again.
An obvious fact of doing business is to keep overhead lower and profits higher. Smart entrepreneurs will utilise all the tools that can make this happen, and one of them is represented by chatbots. Let’s see exactly how chatbots are beneficial for your business:
- Saving time
Most questions that customers ask can receive an automated answer from a computer program. It’s a win-win situation: customers don’t have to wait hours or days to receive a response, and employees can concentrate on other tasks that require more complex problem-solving skills instead of informing 10 customers a day on something as simple as the return policy of your company. Costs decrease and at the same time your business is able to serve a larger number of people all at one time.
- Saving money
Instead of hiring more workers to handle customer support, you can try chatbot use, which is cheaper. Costs vary from 2K to 10K, depending on chatbot complexity. It’s an investment, and once you start using chatbots, you will save money in the long run.
- Improving customer support
Chatbots can provide greater customer satisfaction than humans as they are always available and don’t get fatigued completing repetitive tasks. The answer provided by your chatbot can even be just the thing that completes a sale and thus, increases your business profits.
- Increasing customer retention
Customers are increasingly demanding these days, and a frustrated person that doesn’t get a quick answer may leave the website and never return. Chatbots eliminate this scenario and please even the most anxious and short-attention span consumers.
- Reducing errors
Employees are well… humans, and humans are prone to making errors. Common mistakes that humans can make include transposing numbers and, and forgetting small other things. Chatbots, on the other hand, will always give the right answers and prevent complicated customer service issues that require a lot of time and efforts to solve.
- No bad attitude
Aside from making errors, humans also have a problem taking things personal. An employee who’s had a bad day at work may provide an angry response to a customer, turning them away. Chatbots never get angry, no matter how difficult the customer is, and can even be programmed to have a bit of humour and seem more humanlike, making people to feel more at ease and releasing tension.
- Handling multiple requests at the same time
A human can really concentrate on one task at a time and can juggle between 3-4 tasks by switching their attention from one to another. If the number of tasks you concentrate on is higher than 4, then you are very likely to make errors. Chatbots, on the other hand, can simultaneously have conversations with thousands of people. Every single person will be answered instantly, something that would be impossible by relying on humans only.
- Adapting chatbot capabilities to your needs
If all you need is a chatbot to inform your customers on simple things like delivery details for a product purchased online, you don’t need to spend money on an elaborate chatbot with amazing AI capabilities. In this case, you need a chatbot based on clickable menu buttons or with simple keyword recognition. Chabots have excellent ROI (return on investment) as long as you choose the right one.
- Automating repetitive work
Doing the same work again and again is boring and tiresome, and can cause errors. Slack bots that automate repetitive tasks help people save time and increase productivity. And they don’t complain about their work not being meaningful either.
Chatbots are a must for your marketing if you want to rank highly in your sector. The advantages of using chatbots when you have a large number of customers to handle are too high to be ignored: responding up to thousands of requests at the same time, reducing costs associated with employment, being available 24/7, eliminating human emotions that can have a negative effect on customer interaction, eliminating errors, and ensuring 100% customer satisfaction. 2019 is the moment to invest in this cutting-edge solution for your business and take your marketing and customer support to the next level!