Automated Chatbot. A chatbot is an application which automates the chat function on a number of platforms including websites, Facebook, twitter, skype, sms and many others that are used in sales, marketing and customer support. The advantages of a chatbot are quite obvious, less people required to do more work in terms of communication. When chatbots were first introduced they were very obviously software but as the market grows chatbots become more and more “natural” and it is sometimes impossible to see whether you are chatting to a bot or a human. In this article we will look at chatbots for specific platforms as well as show you demos of these chatbots.
When it comes to automated chat the platforms that are most used are:
- Website Chatbot
- Facebook Messenger Chatbot
- Twitter Chatbot
- Email Chatbot (Email Automation)
- Skype Chatbot
- SMS Chatbot
A website chatbot is an application installed on a website to automate the chat function. There are many live chat platforms which allow a customer or potential customer to ask questions and get an immediate response. The dilemma with this is that you need a human being monitoring this for it to be effective.
Most questions that come from chat applications are repetitive. The same questions are asked over and over. This allows for the process to be automated where keywords and phrases trigger certain responses from the chatbot.
The goal of chatbots are different, the can act as either process management (eg taking orders), sales (have a sales funnel attached to their conversation), marketing (get the client to leave their details) or customer support (product related queries).
Process Management Chatbot
A process management chatbot is a bot which assists in general processes within a company. An example of this is order taking for a fast-food restaurant. As there is really no requirement for human interaction, if the chatbot is properly developed, this helps in faster orders and being able to assist an infinite number of clients at once.
With process management chatbots we use prompts to direct the client into taking decisions based on the options available. Many companies employ this as method of increasing productivity and decreasing workload at the same time. This is almost a no brainer for business. In more complex circumstances a part of the chat can be automated and then hand over to a live agent.
The dream come true for many companies. A sales chatbot is designed to take the customer on a journey with the end-result being a sale. It is important for this process to be tested and optimized over time as it can have a massive effect on sales. Many chats can be handled at the same time and therefor many sales could be potentially concluded at the same time.
As with the previous example the chatbots used in sales are often used as a filter to determine the likelihood of the client making a purchase. If it is established that the client is a potential sale then the client can be handed over to a live sales person to close the sale.
A marketing chatbot is developed with the purpose of collecting leads. The chatbot is often attached to an email list through applications such as Mailchimp. Once the lead is collected by the bot it can automatically be sent to the sales department to make a sales call. Chatbots are very successful when used for this purpose and promotional offers can be added to the code to incentivize the potential client to leave their details.
The contact details can be captured directly from the chatbot and there is no need for the client to fill out forms. Studies have shown that customers react negatively towards forms but will happily give their details when requested in chat format.
Customer Support Chatbot
As the name suggests this bot is developed to aid in customer queries. As with the previous bots most support queries would be repetitive and could be programmed into the chatbot. There is a lot of time spent in directing clients to self-help portals on websites and certain documents. With a chatbot this is all automated and your support team can deal with issues that warrant their full attention.
This also allows support teams to focus more on retention and less on repetitive client queries. As with the previous examples a support chatbot can qualify the need of the client to talk to a support agent. If the criteria are met an email will immediately be sent to the support desk.
Facebook Messenger Chatbot
Facebook messenger is quickly becoming one of the most used instant messaging platforms on both mobile and desktop chat. Facebook allows for automation and therefore chatbots to be used. The bots will perform the same function on Facebook as previously discussed. The Facbook Messanger Chatbot is great for process, sales, markeing and customer support. The great thing on Facebook is that the bot can invite people to events or show them offers. It is a must have for any business with a Business on Facebook.
Twitter Chatbot (Twitter Bots)
These have been quite controversial lately as bots were used in the WMC campaign. Twitter bots are either real or fake twitter personas that have automation built in. These bots react to certain events such as mentions and retweets in different ways and try to emulate human behavior while being programmed with a very clear objective in mind.
These bots, as most things in life, can be used for both good and bad. From a business perspective however, there is little doubt as to the value these twitter chatbots offer. They can be used to get a message across to the twittersphere and then answer basic questions and interact with the community.
This is very helpful for SMEs that don’t have the budget to employ permanent social media staff. There is no limit to how many bots are used, you do however need to comply with twitter rules and guidelines and it is strongly recommended that you use real identities and profiles when going this route.
Email Chatbot (Email Automation)
Email automation has been around for a few years now. Most businesses do not use it to it’s full potential. The fear is often the loss of control when automation is introduced. The truth of the matter is that automation will have to be introduced at some point and that might as well be now. When proper automation is implemented with checks and balances then it can make a huge difference in optimizing an organization.
Automated email includes responses to certain key phrases or questions. It also includes a series of emails which prompts users to choose certain options which then in turn triggers the next email. As with all chatbots email automation can be used for various purposes and is only limited by the imagination of the company and the skill of the developer.
Skype is one of the (if not the) most used messaging platforms for business. As such it is a perfect place for automation in the form of chatbots. A skype chatbot is used for similar purposes as mentioned in the bots before. The key here is to remember it is often B2B and therefore one should be sensitive to use it as an information guidance system rather than a sales tool.
If a company uses skype for customer support (as we do) then you can use a customer support chatbot. Skype is a great platform and has just become more powerful through automation.
A SMS chatbot is used for SMS messages. As this could potentially fall away automation is becoming available for Whatsapp (Whatsapp Chatbot) and already available for WeChat (WeChat Chatbot). The idea is exactly the same as all the previous examples. To sell products, generate leads, service clients and automate processes.
As mobile chat is massive this is a great place to offer your clients support and is also a great platform for marketing products. In third world countries this is especially true due to the lack of PCs. Almost all business in these countries (South Africa Included) is concluded by phone. It is of the utmost importance that your business introduce relevant communication channels to gain market share in this current environment.
Why is a Chatbot crucial for the success of your business?
Your competitors are all getting on the bandwagon of automation. This allows them to spend less time on time wasting activities and more time on generating new revenue. The time saved by automation will allow for a push in sales and marketing. If you are left stranded in the past you will not be able to compete in the future.
Chatbots are relatively inexpensive, especially if you compare them o the salary you would have had to pay people to deal with the same number of tasks. Chatbot SA offers great value for money and will customize your chatbot to best optimize your business. We have worked with tons of SMEs and we know how this small tool can change a business.
Just think of all the processes you can automate right now. Automating these processes will save you tons of time and money and more importantly allow you to move your business forward and stay competitive.
As for the disadvantages of Chatbots. Well to be honest they cannot quite replace a SKILLED human yet but when developed correctly pose very little risk to the company. As there are hundreds of applications we have already tested we know how to program and monitor bots and improve them over time. If you are apprehensive we suggest identifying a small part of your business to test this on and then roll out later when you feel comfortable that this is the right option for you and your company.
Can I use a chatbot on other Platforms?
We did not mention all the platforms available for chatbots as there are too many of them. If you have a specific platform in mind contact us and we will advise you whether we are able to build a chatbot for you. All major platform allow automation or are in the process of doing so. We can program bots in various languages as well ( we may require a translator ) which helps tremendously in some business sectors.
We pretty much live on the rule that is you can dream it we can do it. Let us know what project you have in mind but we will almost certainly be able to execute it to your complete satisfaction. Let us know if you want to setup a meeting to discuss your project. Face to face in Gauteng or Skype for all other areas.