The past year has put bots in the spotlight. More and more companies are releasing virtual chat assistants to support clients. Chatbots help users pick places to hang out with friends, make orders, get taxis, choose clothes, read the news and check out currency exchange rates. It’s like everyone is making chatbots nowadays.
Ideally, companies need bots to solve certain tasks. Here’s what virtual assistants are already doing for businesses.
Cutting client support costs
A chatbot is basically a new name for automatic messaging. Communicating with clients is the most obvious way of using them. Indeed, bots can answer typical questions, easing the load off support departments and call centres.
A bot can be simple and follow pre-written scripts and templates, or smart and learn in the process of communicating, which enables the program to resolve a growing number clients queries.
We chose the first option with our chatbot that is designed to help companies that are only starting to consider content as a means of business promotion. We made up a list of questions that are popular among beginners (What should we write about? Does the timing of posts affect their popularity? How do we work with negative comments?) and wrote short descriptions with links to more detailed articles.
Big banks are already creating chatbots. The beginning of a dialogue generally follows the same script: a greeting and a description of the problem. Actual employees join in when it becomes clear what the client needs.
Interestingly, the bot is self-learning and can maintain a conversation over longer time periods and figure out more details about a certain task, which makes the job of any support department much easier.
According to various estimates, bots can reduce the support costs by 40–80%. This will, in turn, enable companies to lower prices and make services more accessible for customers who are used to getting answers right in the messenger.
Attracting new users
Online marketing is getting more expensive. Companies find efficient channels of promotion very fast, invest and increase prices. As a result, only big projects with large marketing budgets can function in highly competitive areas.
Companies that can’t afford such expenditures, which is especially true for startups, have to consider other ways of increasing their user base. Experts forecast that chatbots could become as popular as new mobile apps used to be.
Just recently, the release of every new app received media coverage and provoked interest. But today, there are millions of programs on app markets, and making it to the top is only possible with a serious budget.
Bots can serve as a new interface for accessing familiar services thanks to API technologies. An example from our practice is the marketing bot that can check the quality of articles in Russian and English (using Tone Analyzer for the latter). We promote the bot ourselves and explain how it works wherever we go, thus more and more people learn about tools that this program uses.
Furthermore, projects could create bots themselves to increase their audience and attract clients. Even offline companies like car-care services are starting to do this. That’s right, shopping bots already exist!
Organising the workflow in sales departments is another headache for small companies. This topic is frequently linked to the issue of reducing support costs. Sales managers spend a lot of time talking to clients that finally decide not to buy. While it’s not possible to completely avoid such situations, it is possible to filter the flow of incoming requests using a bot.
Even a simple form with relevant questions can help figure out what questions need to be solved like where did they learn about the company, what is the budget, and so on. Of course, nobody likes filling in forms, especially the ones with a lot of mandatory fields, but this problem can be easily fixed by simply eliminating them.
In order to do so, a company can gather more data from potential clients who were willing to provide it, and draft a high-quality proposal using its best specialists.
Some of the tech leaders, including WhatsApp and Viber, have yet to introduce their own interfaces for creating bots. If it happens, there will be a new wave of chatbots enabling their creators to access hundred millions of new users.
Obviously, humans will be somewhere nearby, no matter how sophisticated the bots become. It’s still a long way until complex processes are automated, but bots already perform minor and not-so-difficult tasks. And this means that bot mania of the past couple of years is still far from the end.