“Bots are the new apps.”-Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
So, what exactly is a chatbot? A chatbot is a digital voice for your brand that communicates with customers instantly and efficiently on your behalf by means of text, gifs, images, videos, etc. on messaging apps. In slightly technical words, Artificial Conversational Entity (chatbot) is a computer program designed to simulate conversation through artificial intelligence, usually with a real person over the Internet.
Chatbots have been around for decades, but companies have only recently started exploring the technology from a business point-of-view. Just as a robot may simulate all or part of the actions of a human being, a chatbot is essentially an interface software designed to simulate human conversation. Chatbots can be simple (rules based AI) or more complex (natural language processing and machine learning).
As a digital avatar, a chatbot can turn anything you want into a conversation, thanks to a few clever coding tricks. You can also personalize the chatbot to such an extent that it imbibes the spirit of your brand and emits the same. The bot will interact with the world on your behalf, while you can focus on more integral activities.
“First there were websites, then there were apps, now there are bots.” -Kik
Businesses can use bots in a number of ways to help with marketing, sales and customer support, typically through their website or a messaging app like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Slack.
One of the main reasons that chatbots can be so instrumental for businesses is because they can vastly reduce the amount of time employees spend on answering frequently asked questions. Not only can bots be programmed to quickly fetch answers, they also can bring up related products for up-sells or cross-sells and improve the whole sales process by adding an engaging element to the chat. Not to mention, chatbots can handle multiple chats at the same time, a feat which a human employee would have difficulty with. Also, the efficiency and the speed with which the chatbots handle multiple chats is evidently unparalleled.
Survey as per the research study by MINDBOWSER in association with ‘Chatbots Journal’
A good after-sales connect with your users can make a big difference in how your brand is perceived and rated by your customers, and incidentally, this is where most bigger brands struggle. Implementing chatbots to help your customers with their post purchase issues is something every brand should look at. Scheduling returns, registering complaints, taking feedback – these bots can be configured to do anything that has a process to it. We should also not forget the fact that providing 24/7 support to customers by human employees can get really expensive.
Advancement in chatbots have opened up a whole new platform for businesses. And this is just the beginning. Bots will be around for a long time not only because they are useful and create a monetary value, but also because they will become a fact of our online lives. Maybe in the future, when you visit a business website, it may not come as a surprise for you to find the presence of a chatbot, customized to take you around the website and help you in all the ways possible, ranging from imparting knowledge on the latest products and services to assistance in making a selection and even in customizing your own bouquet of orders.
“One day you will have to explain to your child that you used to call customer service representatives.” -Ekim Kaya, Co-Founder & General Manager at Botego