Actionable Trends: Part 4 – Chatbots
We’re looking at big trends that even smaller businesses can use, to draw in more customers and increase sales. Today, we’re talking about chatbots. A chatbot is a software program that mimics a human conversation with a user. There are many different types, from very simple to quite sophisticated, depending on your needs and how much you’re willing to invest. Since chatbots are designed to enable you to manage with fewer staff, doing a cost-benefit analysis is well worth your time.
There are a number of articles you can read to learn more about how chatbots work, and there are some links below. The main things to know are that the simplest of chatbots look at keywords input by the user, and then answer according to a script. A sophisticated chatbot initially uses a large database of information, but learns about each user and learns more information, as it goes.
Chatbots can perform numerous functions, within your business operations, as well as interacting with your online customers. This later task is what we’ll focus on here.
Smoothing the Sales Path
Internet users are notoriously impatient and get frustrated if they don’t see what they’re looking for right away. Those who have difficulties reading or navigating a website will also find a chatbot helpful. A chatbot can help users find specific items or information. While similar to having a search function, a chatbot is perceived as being a helpful agent, offering suggestions for the customer “looking for a long red sweater.” Depending on the database info, the chatbot might also suggest items made from cotton or on sale.
The chatbot can answer any questions that you’ve identified as frequent or important to decision making, and have provided the answers in your database or scripted content. Things like shipping costs, sizing, or even sustainability issues.
For service providers, the chatbot can provide costs for standard services and even book appointments.
Anything you can do to smooth the sales path for customers will increase sales, and a chatbot might just be one of those things.
When customers have large selection to choose from, like car parts or houses, chatbots are a great tool for filtering. This keeps customers from being overwhelmed and narrows down the options to just a few. So, in real estate for example, the chatbot can narrow down the options by price, neighbourhood, type of building, etc. By filtering one criteria at a time (rather than using all the filters at once, which many users do on a typical real estate site), the user sees how each criteria impacts the options. Again, the other thing is that it appears to the user that someone is working with them to assist in the effort.
A chatbot can be used to deliver answers to your basic frequently asked questions, or to answer specific inquires about an order and its status. Chatbots can also forward the chat to a live agent if the queries go beyond its capability. This is a great option for high volume sites, cutting down the number of people needed to keep up with demand, and making sure that the customer gets to the right person to handle their issue.
Customer Follow Up
You can integrate a chatbot with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program, to connect to past customers when they revisit your site. So, for example, it can ask a returning customer how they liked the previous item or suggest items in new inventory that the person might like, based on previous purchases.
Here are those links if you’d like to learn more about chatbots. If you think a chatbot could help your sales, just give us a call.