Some entrepreneurs can be intimidated by advanced tech. With AI-powered conversational interfaces, founders either have to dive in or hire a professional to leverage the technology. As social media and chat marketing are indispensable to e-commerce and startup retention, it can be damaging to neglect the benefits of chatbot automation.
Natasha Takahashi, co-founder of School of Bots, shares insights on how small businesses can increase sales, become efficient, and respond 24/7 to online queries through automated chatbots.
The San Diego-based chatbot expert gave me her tips to improve business processes by using AI-assisted conversational chatbots.
1. Provide Real-Time Sales And Marketing Communication
Selling merchandise online and social media means engaging prospects and consumers 24/7/365. Chatbots are a competitive advantage because they generate leads and respond to questions all the time. By interacting and providing answers in real-time, they also prevent visitors from checking out competitors.
“There’s a big shift in consumer behavior taking place when it comes to using messenger apps such as Facebook and SMS,” says Takahashi, who trains clients on marketing-focused chatbots. “They’re increasingly using messenger apps for more than just texts and that includes booking a reservation, doing research, scheduling a meeting, and buying a product. Revenue-facing chatbots can guide them down the funnel to an eventual sale. Clients, therefore, see a direct path to ROI and increased efficiency.”
A Bain & Company study a few years ago found that customers are four times more likely to buy from a competitor if a problem is service-related rather than price- or product-related. Takahashi advises firms to list their customers’ top concerns about a product or service and to program bots to address these.
2. Give Site Visitors Contextual, AI-Driven Support
AI-powered bots have become powerful tools. Most marketers and businesses think that a chatbot’s main benefit is answering FAQs. The opposite is actually true. Customer support is a small piece of a chatbot’s benefits. When a bot does provide customer support, it’s value-driven, contextual support. A bot uses the data it has on the customer and AI to treat them uniquely and gives them a pleasantly memorable experience. It’s not just answering pre-programmed FAQs that every user will experience in the exact same way.
However, for most startups, the main benefit of chatbots is to answer the most common questions about a product, service, or aftermarket support. Bots boost engagement, satisfaction, and also free up the founder’s and employees’ time to run the business and grow sales. Firms need to optimize automated responses for clarity, brevity, and conversational language. With bots, firms should focus on helping the customer at each step of the way. Responsiveness puts your business in a positive light: 62% of customers say they share their bad experiences with others, according to a Salesforce.com report.
“List your customers’ most common questions and optimize each response,” says Natasha Takahashi who has worked with over 120 clients. “We’ve unlocked millions of dollars in revenue for businesses by giving them frameworks and templates for gaining leads and closing transactions. It’s key to figure out what consumers are seeking from your platform. What do they want and how are you assisting their pursuit?”
According to “2018 State of Chatbots Report,” the top three use cases for chatbots are getting a quick answer in an emergency (37%), resolving a problem (35%), and getting a detailed answer or explanation (35%). Conversational bots reduce friction in a user’s journey.
3. Close The Sale On Buyers
People who are inquiring online or social media are often making a purchase decision at that exact moment. Companies should try to close visitors in real-time who are asking purchase questions and prevent them from visiting competitors. According to a 2018 Accenture survey, 57% of executives say conversational bots can deliver large returns on investment (ROI) with minimal effort. And 61% say they expect an increase in employee productivity while 60% expect better handling of client queries.
“When implemented successfully, bot applications have a clear and repeatable path to ROI,” says Takahashi, who writes about best practices in chat marketing at School of Bots. “People have higher expectations these days. Thus, more businesses are using this emerging technology because consumers want real-time interaction with customer support. Chatbots give companies the ability to be extremely responsive.”
Bots are cost-efficient guides that move consumers through the sales funnel by delivering personalization at scale.
This article is written by Stephanie Burns and originally published here