The term “chatbot” has become incredibly popular in recent years. More and more companies are integrating this tool into their daily operations. This is obvious since chatbots and their features have completely changed the way companies interact with their customers But what is a chatbot exactly and how can it benefit your company?

Chatbot basics

Oxford dictionary defines “chatbot” as “a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.” Also known as “virtual assistant”, a chatbot is designed to understand users language. It answers questions automatically by following a pre-programmed code. Whether integrated into a website or in digital message channels, chatbots work 24/7.

Chatbots also have history

The machine intelligence and their similarities with humans were already hot topics among mid-20th century scientists. Technological advances have only improved their features, leading to competition between companies.

While the race for first place is still on, the general picture is changing. Chatbots are no longer just used by specialists. They’ve become more available, and nowadays you don’t need an advanced degree in programming to enjoy their benefits. But are all chatbots available on the market the same?

Flow chatbots vs. smart chatbots

Flow chatbots operate based on an outline set of questions and answers. They’re affordable and easy to program, but their language is limited and conversations may not be as fluid as you’d like.

Smart chatbots use artificial intelligence to have coherent conversations with natural language, and can even identify the intention behind questions. However, they tend to be more expensive and programming them may not be so simple.

Why do you need a chatbot?

Now that you’re familiar with chatbots and the types available, let’s focus on their practical applications. Using a chatbot will benefit your company whether you have thousands of customers or only a few.

According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report by Drift, SurveyMonkey Audience, Salesforce and myclever, providing a great online experience is essential. The survey found that 34% of consumers feel frustrated when a website is difficult to navigate, 31% find it annoying when they can’t get answers for simple questions and 28% become irritated when they can’t easily find a business basic details online. This information reveals something very important: many companies are not meeting their potential customers’ demands.

There’s another important fact we shouldn’t overlook. In the abovementioned report, Salesforce notes that 69% of consumers prefer chatbots over apps to communicate with companies. Why? Because chatbots can respond to their inquiries more quickly.

4 chatbot uses you must be aware of

Answering questions is just one of the many chatbot features. Let’s go over the most important ones:

Customer Support

This is the most popular use for chatbots. Automatic Customer Service powered by AI offers efficient solutions in the first interaction. Since they easily perform repetitive tasks, they will answer your customers’ frequently asked questions in the blink of an eye. Moreover, they can answer large numbers of questions with a similar answer, even if the questions are phrased differently. Smart chatbotsalso understand natural language and regionalisms, and can even understand spelling and grammar mistakes and interpret emojis.

This will, of course, save time and money. This virtual assistant will transfer the session to a human agent when necessary. Meanwhile, it will handle simple queries and leave your team available to handle complex tasks. Finally, some chatbots offer the same solution across all your service channels, allowing you to provide an incredible omnichannel experience.

Results are obvious. By implementing smart chatbots, Amadeus achieved 70% retention in automatic versus traditional customer service.

Sales & Marketing

Chatbots are extremely useful tools to complement marketing strategies and boost sales. On the one hand, they make lead acquisition easier by attracting visitors and turning them into potential customers. With each interaction, chatbots gather information about their preferences, interests and contact channels. Therefore, companies can use this data to identify new markets and opportunities.

On the other, you can also use them for upselling and cross-selling. By offering customers a product similar or complementary to the one they are interested in, they encourage more or greater purchases. Of course, direct selling is not out of the question.


Related read: E-commerce chatbot: how to increase sales and retention on your website


Transactional Information

Moreover, chatbots can also be integrated to your CRM or WebServices to facilitate data crossing. This makes customer management easier and allows you to provide personalized service based on their needs. This feature is ideal for reimbursing customers or providing updates on their orders.

Collections

Virtual assistants are also great allies for speeding up collections. They use automatic messaging channels to inform your customers of their debts and regularize late payments. They contact your customers via text message or interactive phone calls and provide them with payment options.


Related read: To a successful end of 2018: Artificial Intelligence Applied to Bill Payment


Chatbots will become members of your team

After reading this, we hope that chatbots are no longer a mystery. Because there are different types and uses, it won’t’ be hard to find one that best suits your company’s needs. If you have any questions, please contact our experts. They are always ready to help.

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