“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that. “
If the calm, eerie voice of HAL 9000 still gives you the goosebumps, you’ll need to find a way to get used to the fact that intelligent chatbots have taken the world of marketing by storm.
As a matter of fact, by 2020 85% customer service interactions will be handled without human interference. Moreover, by then, the odds are that you’ll have more conversations with these smart algorithms than with your spouse.
So, you’d better adopt the how-I-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-chatbot mindset because that’s what the future of marketing is all about.
What Are Chatbots?
Behind this sci-fi-flavored buzzword hides just a regular computer program configured to automate certain tasks, help customers by providing predefined answers to some frequently asked questions, deal with some basic issues they encounter, as well as collect and process customer data for future reference.
However, there are much more advanced AI-, ML-, and NLP-powered chatbots capable of having real, unscripted conversations. The truth is that in the near future it will be virtually impossible to know whether you’re talking to a robot or an actual human being.
Here’s why chatbots are crucial for gaining a competitive edge and staying ahead of the curve.
1. They’re Available 24/7
Unlike your customer reps, who work “only” 8 hours a day, chatbots never sleep, go to vacations, or take sick leave.
They never grow tired and angry.
You can repeat the same question time after time, and they’ll always politely provide you with an answer.
In a nutshell, they can assist your customers at any time, regardless of their time zone.
Nowadays, when consumers have become increasingly impatient, it’s essential to address their questions and issues immediately and accurately, be it midnight or 3 A.M.
Otherwise, they’ll simply churn and opt for your competitors who have switched to this customer-centric approach.
2. They Improve Customer Experience
83% of customers need some kind of support during the purchasing process.
On the other hand, a survey has shown that 94% of customers dread contacting customer support.
Long waiting times and incomprehensible accents in offshore call centres are their major complaints.
That’s where chatbots come in to offer additional information about any product in a timely manner and remove all the obstacles on the way to the checkout.
And all that with a neutral accent.
For example, Estée Lauder joined forces with ModiFace, a company specializing in creating AR technologies for the beauty industry, and built a lipstick try-on chatbot for Facebook Messenger. This hi-tech algorithm allows users to update their selfies, apply different lipstick shades, that is, virtually try them on, and pick the one that they like best.
It’s clear how such an interactive tool can engage customers and facilitate their purchasing decision, which is why it’s a good idea to enlist the help of renowned web design agencies and invest in building decent chatbot.
3. They Personalize Customer Experiences
Chatbots are also capable of collecting and processing a huge volume of customer data and use it to personalize outreach.
Some entry-level algorithms gather standard customer information such as their email address, location, or devices they use, while the advanced versions engage in deeper and more meaningful conversations, thus being able to find out what customers think about certain products and services, what issues they struggle with, or what challenges they face when it comes to using particular features.
All the information chatbots collect can be later used to predict customer behaviour, offer personalized recommendations, or even to improve products and services to make them more appealing to target audience’s preferences.
4. They Will Reduce Your Overhead Costs
The process of hiring and onboarding new customer service reps can be costly.
According to the latest studies, these smart programs can help you save up to 30% by accelerating response times and picking up the routine slack.
Once you build them, you won’t have to spend too much to update and maintain them.
Still, this doesn’t mean that you can let your human agents go as their expertise is still indispensable.
In other words, your chatbots can handle some comparatively simple requests thus allowing your human reps to focus on complex issues which require more time and provide the best possible service.
5. They Eliminate Human Errors
People are prone to making mistakes, especially when they’re too busy and tired.
Your customer support agents can forget and mix things up, which means that their answers might be incorrect from time to time.
Chatbots, on the other hand, are machines.
And we know that machines almost never make mistakes.
They can memorize a lot of information and process it quickly so that they can offer relevant and accurate solutions to customer questions and problems.
Despite some shortcomings, such as their lack of emotions and empathy, chatbots are disrupting the marketing industry even as we speak. They have the potential to transform your business by saving you time and money, and by improving customer experience and satisfaction.