The technological innovation to enhance your communication channels_

Did you know that 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase?[1]Poor communication channels between businesses and their clients in these instances can be the difference between closing a sale and losing a potentially loyal long-term client.

Fortunately, technological innovations have provided a possible solution; chatbots. These systems proficiently mimic conversation with users using artificial intelligence techniques. They are currently utilised by many large retail companies in order to provide consumers with targeted customer support. Given that an estimated 85% of customer interactions will be managed via chatbots by 2020, it is essential that businesses improve their understanding of these systems and how to integrate them within their company’s existing digital marketing strategies[2].

What are chatbots?

Chatbots are communications systems which combine machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) systems with the formats that you would expect from instant messaging apps. By using chatbots, your business can interact with  individual consumers, offering them personalised assistance throughout the purchase process or whilst making enquiries

Many chatbots revolve around a ‘chat interface’ which is similar to the instant messaging services found in conventional text messages or apps such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram. You may be familiar with these types of pop-up boxes that appear when you visit a site asking ‘How can I help you?’. Chatbots are sophisticated versions of these communications systems which seek to converse with human users through an app or online service; immediately responding to questions posed by the user, in such a way as to emulate a real conversation.

Common examples of chatbots which have soared in popularity in recent months are  personal assistant services, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, which enable businesses to directly interact with customers in their homes, at work or on the go via the apps and services they use the most. These preliminary services have proved incredibly popular; in fact  Amazon have already sold more than 20 million Echo devices which boast over 20,000 services available via the Alexa Store[3].

How will chatbots benefit your brand?

Chatbots present an incredibly lucrative opportunity for businesses because people are now using messenger apps more than they are using social networks. As  Peter Rojas, an Entrepreneur in Residence at Betaworks, illustrates;

“People are now spending more time in messaging apps than in social media and that is a huge turning point. Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services”[4].

Given that 58% of millennials have used a chatbot before and 71% stated they would interact with a chatbot from a major brand, this presents businesses with a golden opportunity to develop a new and exciting chatbot with which users actively want to engage[5]. Listed below are some of the ways in which your brand can utilise chatbots to secure the return custom of existing clients as well as ensuring your brand looks relevant and appealing to future consumers;

Customer service capabilities: Many companies use chatbots to provide customers with online assistance and helpdesk facilities thereby reducing waiting times and boosting customer satisfaction levels. With UK businesses losing £12 billion every year due to poor customer service, these reduced waiting times can prove pivotal in bolstering consumer trust and loyalty towards your brand[6].

Inform consumers about new products and services: Chatbots enable businesses to push notifications and promotional codes to their target market. Studies show 95% of millennials want brands to court them actively, so chatbots are ideal resources for securing repeat custom from these engaged users[7].

Provide useful information specific to your field of industry: Although 61% of consumer-chatbot interactions focus upon customer service-related questions, the technology is constantly improving and chatbots have seemingly unlimited possibilities[8]. It is feasible to design a chatbot that provides your consumers with services that are specific to your industry, such as  local weather reports, news updates, imparting life advice or help with personal finance management; the sky’s the limit!

How do you create a chatbot?

Although it may seem daunting to develop such a technologically proficient system, there are various resources at hand which you can utilise to create a chatbot for your brand.

Currently there are two types of chatbots; those which use machine learning and those which operate based on a set of rules. Chatbots operating based on a set of rules are simpler to develop but more limited in their execution because they only respond to very specific commands. Conversely, chatbots  which utilise machine learning through AI techniques can  interpret language rather than just commands. These chatbots continuously expand and evolve based upon the conversations they have with consumers.

If you would like to practise developing chatbots then you can take advantage of new resources such as the Kik Bot Store. Simply decide what problem you want your bot to solve, choose the platform upon which your bot will exist (such as Facebook), set up a server from which to run your bot, and choose which service you will use to build your bot.

These bot builders have become increasingly popular as more and more businesses seek to create their own chatbots as part of their digital marketing strategies. As Dmitrii Dumik, founder of separate bot builder Chatfuel, explains;

“We believe that you don’t need to know how to program to build a bot, that’s what inspired us at Chatfuel a year ago when we started bot builder. We noticed bots becoming hyper-local, i.e. a bot for a soccer team to keep in touch with fans or a small art community bot. Bots are efficient and when you let anyone create them easily magic happens”[9]. 

If you would like to learn more about designing a chatbot for your brand then please feel free to contact Cloud Ten today for additional assistance.