Over 2 billion messages are sent to businesses over Messenger every month. The days of sitting on hold listening to Opus Number 1 on repeat are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today’s savvy customer wants fast, efficient service they can use on the go. That’s why more and more people are using social media and messaging apps to connect with brands to help get their burning questions answered. Does this all affect your bottom line you ask? You betcha. A recent study shows people are 21% more likely to buy services from a company if they are reachable on social media. It’s a daunting task to be expected to have lightning fast, accurate responses ready to go at any minute of the day, especially if you’re a small business. Luckily, this is where chatbots come in to save the day.
Chatbots are software applications that are designed to communicate with humans. While most chatbots are used to assist with customer service, these friendly applications can assist with a wide variety of functions including product recommendations, booking appointments, assist with generating leads, and even act as a companion if you’re having trouble falling asleep. They’re not just limited to social media either; chatbots can be used on your website, mobile application, or at your check-in counter.
When you get down to the nuts-and-bolts of it all, there are two types of chatbots: rule-based and AI chatbots:
Rule-based chatbots have limited capabilities and interact with users based off of a predetermined script or decision tree. Typically these bots only allow users to choose from a limited menu of options or need to be told a very specific command like “Location and Hours.” These types of chatbots typically don’t require any type of prior IT knowledge, are quick and easy to set up, and best of all, inexpensive.
AI chatbots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand, learn, and interact with customers. These types of chatbots can simulate natural human conversation and can help solve more complex queries. While these chatbots offer a better experience for you and your customers, they do require a significant amount of time, money and resources to implement.
It’s easy to get carried away when making dialogue-trees or looking at the sparkly list of features a chatbot developer can offer. Make sure you have a clear vision for the role your chatbot will play in your organization.
Be thoughtful and analytical about how your customers interact with you online and in-person. What are the most common questions you get asked? How do they ask them? What’s often misspelled? If you don’t have data at your fingertips, make a list over the course of a few weeks of every message, phone call, and in-person interaction and go from there.
Have you ever tried to tell a joke to a robot? It’s awkward. No one likes to feel tricked into believing they are talking to a human. Be up front and honest about who your customer is talking to from the get-go.
Technology has come a long way, but everyone still needs a little human TLC here and there. Always have an option to get in touch with a person, whether that’s automatically connecting to a live representative or sharing your businesses’ phone number in the chat.
Have fun and give your chatbot a name, personality, and tone of voice that makes sense for your brand. But, don’t go overboard to the point it’s distracting or annoying for a less-than-happy customer. No one likes the feeling of being approached by an especially peppy person when you’re having a bad day.
What innovative ways could your business use chatbots? For inspiration, take a peek at these 50 Innovative Ways Brands Use Chatbots. If you’re interested in learning more about setting up or maintaining social media chatbots, reach out to our team!
LaRae Richards is Fruition’s Paid Social Media Manager and has over 8 years of experience in the field. LaRae fell in love with the digital and social media marketing early in her career because it combines her talent for metrics and analytical thinking with her passion for creative writing and graphic design. With expertise in both national and local campaigns, LaRae excels at curating engaging content and serving it to the right market segments to achieve the maximum results.
President & Founder, Tru Family Dental
Marketing, Dependable Cleaners
President & Founder, Family Travel Association