Could you ever imagine that a computer program would free you from the grasps of the most repetitive tasks like answering the same questions from customers? Or maybe that it would approach a customer online, offering them a specific product or a discount, while you’re taking care of some other stuff?
These are just some of the many things that chatbots can do for you.
Welcome to the future. It’s here. RIGHT NOW!
What is a chatbot exactly?
To put it simply – a chatbot (sometimes referred to as a chat bot) is a computer program that simulates a conversation with users to achieve a specific goal (e.g. provide information).
Chatbots are increasing their share in businesses, which can be clearly seen by looking at Google Trends – over the last 3 years, interest in chatbot technologies has increased by almost 600%!
Growing interest in this technology is not a surprise. We’re moving towards automating as much work as we can – and this is exactly what chatbots are made for.
We’ve already answered what a chatbot is, but how does it work?
It’s simple: you want the chatbot to perform action X when a customer performs action Y – and it happens. Chatbots simulate conversations with users through predefined channels. Most often, these channels are messaging applications (like a chat interface, e.g. Tidio, Messenger, Slack, etc.). A chatbot reacts through these channel based on the creator’s design.
Most of the chatbots behave based on the set of rules programmed via chatbot platforms. More technologically advanced chatbots use AI (artificial intelligence) and NLP (natural language processing) to understand a conversation partner’s intention, and in the process – respond in a more complex way.
Chatbots can offer a lot more than automating conversation (their capabilities depend on the solution you choose – you can read more about that in the next section). You want to have all the conversations in one place? Integrate your bot with an e-mail inbox, Messenger, or other third-party apps. You’re afraid that your customers are going to get bored and want to speak to a live agent? No problem – you just need to enable this feature and allow your customers to use it whenever they like.
Can you set up your own chatbot without coding skills? Yes, you can.
Keep reading to find out how.
What can a chatbot do for your business and customers? (Yes, it can sell!)
You already know what a chatbot is and how it works, but how can it help you grow?
This technology is used in many industries for various purposes. Chatbots can bring you the latest news, generate leads, provide weather information, help book a flight, sell a product, or provide customer service. The sky is the limit.
How do customers perceive interacting with a non-human bot? There’s some great news – Hubspot’s research shows that 47% of consumers would buy items from a chatbot. In addition to that, according to chatbotslife.com, an e-commerce chatbot can increase the conversion rate by up to 25%!
The data mentioned above shows that both customers and business owners (especially in e-commerce) enjoy the benefits of using bots. Why should you try using this technology? Here are a few reasons to consider:
1. Better and faster customer service. This is what customers want – they’re impatient, and they want what they want RIGHT NOW – research shows that 82% of today’s buyers demand an instant answer to their question (“instant” here means a response rate below 10 minutes).
2. Create sales opportunities. Chatbots can boost your conversion rate by engaging 100% of a website’s visitors. Example? Your returning customer just opens your website again – a chatbot can “hook” a client by offering them a returning visitor’s discount:
… and boom! – your customer gets the discount, and buys the product!
3. Personalize communication. Greet a website’s new visitors or send a “thank you” message – this makes things more personal, and customers love that. Or maybe you’d want to send a personalized offer or discount? You can do that as well. According to barilliance.com data, personalized offers convert 1.7x times better than the generic ones. Conclusions?
4. Save a lot of time. Use bots to respond to simple queries. It’s a win-win situation, and it’s highly efficient. You save time instead of answering repetitive questions, and a customer doesn’t have to wait for a phone call or an e-mail; they just get an instant reply (e.g. about their order’s shipment status).
5. Collect leads. You ran out of stock and the customer wants to leave the website? No problem. A chatbot can ask them for an e-mail, and you can later inform your client that the product is available.
6. Instantly react to customers’ behaviour. Your client wants to leave the website. A chatbot engages them and offers a discount. The customer gets the product, you get the money – everyone is happy.
7. Set up on every website easily. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, etc. – it doesn’t really matter, most of the chatbots work everywhere, so you won’t have to spend a lot of money or time to set things up.
Types of chatbots – scripted and learning
Chatbots can be categorized using various criteria, but in this article we’ll split them into two main categories: scripted and learning.
Scripted chatbots are based on a set of predetermined rules and answers. In practice, this means that the user (customer) chooses the next step of a conversation from a list of options or (depending on the chatbot platform capabilities) types in some custom text.
Given the simplicity of setting up and configuring the rules, this solution is the most common one. Some of the chatbot platforms offer predefined templates, which allow you to set up a chatbot for a specific use case with just a few clicks (e.g. Tidio Chatbots has a ready-to-go template for engaging a customer who abandons their cart).
Learning chatbots are much more complex. With the help of an AI and NLP, they’re based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. They can understand free-form text input and react accordingly, understanding the context. They can accumulate data from previous conversations and improve themselves for future tasks. To put it simply – they learn and get smarter. This technology is still quite “fresh,” but it’s definitely the direction in which chatbots are going to evolve in the future.
Some platforms mix the functionalities of both scripted and learning chatbots, allowing you to set up conversation rules as well as use AI and NLP to perform more advanced tasks.
All that is great, but how do you exactly set up a chatbot? You’ll find the answer in the next section.
How to make a chatbot? Tip: you don’t need to code
… but you can if you want to. There are two ways to create a chatbot:
1. Build a chatbot from scratch. This option requires either coding skills or hiring a professional to set up a chatbot for you. If you decide to code yourself, you can find a lot of tutorials on how to make a chatbot from nothing. If you want to hire a professional, you can do that as well. This option has its advantages, like a
2. Use an existing chatbot builder. Creating a chatbot this way is the fastest and least expensive method (sometimes even free), and it’s definitely the way to go if you’re just starting. There are a lot of chatbot platforms out there (e.g. Tidio Chatbots). Services like that allow you to set up a chatbot on your website, along with all the scenarios of triggering and responses.
This option may not be as customisable as the first one, but it has clear upsides – a reasonable price, speed of setting up, and low difficulty. Yes, you can set things up on your own and you won’t need coding skills (probably just a tutorial), so it’s a great solution if you’re running your business on your own.
Even before you get started you can take a sneak peek into what a chatbot can be made of. Just download the Tidio Chatbots Cheat Sheet and check all the triggers, actions and conditions it may follow to serve your business.
I want a chatbot NOW – how to start?
No matter how you decide to build a chatbot – on your own or using a platform – it’s worth to ask yourself a few questions:
- What’s my ultimate goal for using chatbots? Is it to increase overall sales? Boost conversion on the website? Or maybe save time you’d otherwise spend on customer service? It’s worth setting up some metrics to measure your results.
- What issues do I want to solve? Remember: technology should be a tool, not the goal itself. Think about what role chatbots should play. Greeting your clients? Generating leads on your website? Define your issues, then think about how to solve them with bots.
- Who are my customers? Understanding how your customers think, moving through the website, and buying is an important part of projecting a conversation flow (possible conversation scenarios). Factors like industry, age, gender, country, conversation tone – it’s important to take all of this into account and create a fantastic customer experience. Most platforms (like Tidio Chatbots) offer ready-to-go templates, which let you set up popular scenarios in no time. For example, with just
afew clicks you can turn on a chatbot that engages a customer abandoning their cart:
- What chatbot platform do I want to use (when you don’t want to build a chatbot on your own)? There are many solutions out there. Check your needs and budget to choose one that’ll suit you.
These are some basic questions to ask before playing with chatbots. Bots should be used for a purpose, and that purpose depends on your business goals. Take a moment to think about them, then make decisions.
Conclusions. Are chatbots the future?
The question whether chatbots can be considered the technology of the future is getting simpler to answer; this tool is clearly becoming an important part of marketing and customer service strategies for business around the world.
Markets are trending towards automation – companies want to eliminate routine tasks, speed up processes, hire fewer people, increase revenue and conversion at the same time. It would definitely be hard to achieve all of that without a few extra hands (or a few extra lines of code).
Research shows that customers accept chatbots as a part of customer service and e-commerce, and in addition to that, 80% of companies are already using chatbots or plan to start using them by 2020. Both businesses and customers accept this solution. What are chatbots to the market, then? The future.
If you want to be a part of business future, it’s worth to include chatbots in your marketing, sales, and customer service strategies.
Let’s grow your business together!