(overview(): 2 min – reading time 10 min)
The purpose of this post is to explain in a very simple and easy way to non-tech-experts how they can take advantage using this new tool called chatbot or chat bot.
What it is and which are its potentials for business activities, even for small ones.
The very good news is that, in this start phase, it doesn’t take so much money or so much time to be the first one to offer this service to customers.
It’s gonna be brief and easy, the purpose here is to give you a quick yet useful overview.
The first section is about what a chatbot really is.
The second explains the reason why it is becoming a key tool for communication with customers.
The third is a list of main applications for business.
Titles () summarize the concept so you can have an overview at a glance.
WHAT A CHATBOT IS
0. A CHATBOT is a software able to simulate a conversation
The term is a combination of two words: “chat” and “bot”.
“Chat” is now immediately associated with instant messaging conversation, when you are on a instant messaging app (for instance Messenger or WhatsApp) you are chatting, you are in a chat.
The term “bot” is an abbreviation of “robot” but in this case, it doesn’t refer to something physical like a real robot, but just to the software part, the artificial intelligence.
A chatbot is then a software programmed to chat with real people.
The user who is chatting with a bot can chat in a very natural way, almost as he/she was chatting with a real person, while at the same time browsing the chatbot’s navigation menu or other bot’s options to find out the info he/she is looking for.
The evolution and propagation of this tool are super fast and it is going to get more complex and have more options over time. A nowadays example of that is voice recognition technology on smartphones (as Siri on iPhone is).
WHY A CHATBOT
1. The amount of chat apps users is even higher than that of social networks
One year ago Mark Zuckerberg announced that daily chat messages were around 60 million.
This number keeps on growing so greatly that it is higher than every other media.
To grasp the idea, I think about my mother, she is everything but a internet expert and she doesn’t use social networks, but she uses WhatsApp to chat with me often.
Which simply means that the users amount that comes with this media is huge.
2. Chat app communication is now so rooted and natural that it is becoming the main communication tool
This point is strongly connected with the previous one. What I just wrote as an example, about my mother using chat apps, is very telling on how much chatting with instant messaging apps is natural for us.
Which also means that when someone wants to contact a business, he/she will be more prone to do it if she can use a more familiar tool.
Having to make a call to contact a business activity may actually prevent us from contacting it and asking for info, as calling requires more time and effort than using a chat app. On the contrary, if, for example, I’m thinking about going to a restaurant for dinner and I can use a chat app to ask for the menu, the process becomes so effortless that there are no reasons not to do it.
3. When people use tools that make them feel in their comfort zone they are more relaxed and open
I don’t think we need a masters in marketing to understand that this means more openness, which leads to fewer barriers, towards commercial aspects as well.
This brings so much marketing value to this tool that it makes it the new effective way to do promotion, compared to more dated platforms such as e-mail marketing.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A CHATBOT
4. It is a very efficient way to streamline the customer care workload and bring it to an upper level at the same time, for basic info at least
A chatbot can do so much for your business. The most evident task is to answer your client’s basic requests.
This mainly regards Business to Consumer activities, like stores or restaurants, which have to respond on a daily basis to basic questions like opening hours or availability of a specific product, and so on.
Via chat app your chatbot can easily manage this requests, giving a fast answer, at any hour, any day, and also adding other precious info like available offers.
So the chatbot works in your place. It not only performs boring and time-consuming tasks, but also carries them out at their best potential, by always being there and always being ready to give the best answers and maybe also adding some engaging info for your customers.
5. Take your customer service to the next level managing advanced tasks
The bot can take further your service to clients, also managing more complex aspects.
A fitting example could be a restaurant, where the chatbot can directly manage a booking request, asking party size, dining time etc.. It will then forward you a complete reservation request, and you will just need to check the availability and then let the bot answer.
6. Customer retention, sending updates, promotions, so keeping up the interest
From here on, there is no limit for you to make your bot service more rich and powerful.
If you want to send promotions, updates etc. to your clients, you just have to ask them for permission and that’s it. Doing this with a chatbot is easier and faster than using a newsletter subscription, because it only has one step: answer yes or no to the subscription request, the chatbot will do the rest.
7. Collecting customers preferences to better know their profiles
As said before, there’s no limit to take the service further.
For instance if you have a hotel, it could be very interesting to know more about customers satisfaction. Some days after the customers’ departure, your chatbot can chat with them asking them to rate and review the service and to pinpoint what they liked best and what they suggest improving.
This way you can have useful reviews, to show on your website and you also get to know better your customers, in order to send them very targeted promotions and updates. Your chatbot will always manage all this for you.
I have tried to give you a good overview about chatbot potentials in business activities, but opportunities are still so many that it is not possible for the account to be fully complete.
Anyway, I hope I have succeeded to clarify for you what is its real potential.
This tool is in its very beginning, but at the same time it has so many options and potential. Moreover, there is already a bunch of possibilities to continue developing it and keeping costs low.
The near future will bring a ton of other options and chatbot will become more and more powerful.
Because of it, you now have the occasion take a step beyond, before your competitor does. So as always it is up to those who want it and have the right understanding and mentality to take advantage of the situation, in the right time and in the right way.
I really hope I have been useful to make you understand more about chatbot, or at least that I gave you a new path to explore. Good luck!
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