Meeting the expectations of the customer is at the heart of every business, at least every successful business. In the digital marketplace, that statement can seem deceptively simplistic, yet it is true.
Today’s customers are expecting more than ever. They want speed, accuracy, personalisation, and responsiveness. And they want these things now.
This is good news because:
- Knowing what your customers want is at least half of the battle
- There are digital marketing strategies to help you meet the needs
What Are Chatbots and How Do They Work?
Chatbots are programs made to simulate human interaction. While the concept is not new, (the first chatbot appeared in 1966) it is an idea that makes great use of existing technology with plenty of room for future enhancements.
Chatbots are only as good as their programs and operate within individual parameters. Generally, chatbots use artificial intelligence (AI) and have programming that understands language and interaction. Over time, higher functioning chatbots can improve their usefulness through machine learning.
What Businesses Successfully Use Chatbots Now?
Numerous Australian businesses, as well as universities and government agencies, use chatbots. While the list is extensive, here are a few companies effectively using chatbots.
- The Commonwealth Bank of Australia – The CBA’s chatbot named Ceba launched at the beginning of 2018. Ceba is a 24-hour resource that allows CBA customers to do banking in real-time, with access to over 200 banking activities such as paying bills, opening accounts, or activating bank cards. Customers interact easily with this chatbot because of a superior interface that is highly intuitive. Additionally, the chatbot links to human operators quickly.
- AGL Energy Limited – When AGL launched its chatbot, Alfie, in 2017, the company began with a narrow focus. This allowed AGL to perfect Alfie in specific areas before broadening its scope. As a result, customers were highly satisfied. By creating a strong human-centric element to Alfie, AGL gave customers fast and easy interactions because it planned for common problems like customers not knowing their account numbers and built Alfie to find a way around consumer variables.
- ABC (see below) – The network’s chatbot arrived in 2016, on Melbourne Cup Day. NewsBot was a part of 70,000 interactions in its first month and is changing the way Australians get their news. NewsBot interacts with consumers via Facebook’s Messenger application. In addition to sending news updates, NewsBot provides answers to subscribers’ questions. The chatbot continually evolves, becoming more intelligent and able to give personalised responses in a conversational manner.
Why is This the Right Time to Consider Using Chatbots as a Part of My Digital Marketing Strategy?
You know the world of e-commerce moves at a break-neck pace. Therefore, being in on the ground floor of advances helps give you an edge over your less-savvy competitors.
Chatbots are not a new idea. However, the application of the idea of chatbots to digital marketing is still a budding production.
- Consider the insider prediction that by mid to late 2020, consumers will engage with chatbots as a part of their business experience about 85 per cent of the time. The clock is ticking, and businesses need to be ready.
- Because the chatbot industry is young, the market has no saturation and consumers still have an interest in chatbots. Think of this in the same way people once thought about email. At first, it was novel and even enjoyable to see email from favourite brands and businesses. Suddenly, every company that could discover your email address converged and buried your inbox. An email was no longer pleasant; it became a chore.
- The newness of the chatbot industry nearly guarantees that many companies using the bots are making plenty of mistakes. If you show consumers a better way to communicate with you via chatbot, there is a great likelihood that your business will appear superior and gain customers as well as promoters.
How Can a Chatbot Help My Business?
Your customers want convenience. They expect responsiveness. They crave personalisation. You may feel like you need to have superpowers to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations. You do not need superpowers, but you likely need cutting edge technology geared to keep your customer happy.
In the digital marketplace, commerce is a 24/7 365 proposition. While this is especially true with international transactions, round the clock accessibility is commonplace in nearly all types of business. For small or medium-sized businesses, this type of staffing is difficult or impossible. High tech solutions for this situation exist and are easy to access.
These are just two examples of the practical uses for chatbots. There are certainly more ways chatbots can work for you.
- Handles multiple enquiries at the same time
- 24-hour instant access to answers of common questions
- Create lead generation
- Set up meetings and demonstrations
- Collect information to use with lead generation
- Saves business owners money and time by streamlining processes
- Strengthen business relationships
- Allow humans to work on more complex projects
- Eliminate employee issues like illness or surliness
What Are Some Common Issues With Chatbots?
All forms of technology have the potential for difficulties, chatbots included. As the technology used in chatbots evolves and refines, chatbots will become optimised and more human-like in their responses to your customers. Australian consumers surveyed as a part of a Gartner study offered several areas where they felt chatbots fell short of meeting their expectations.
- Over 43 per cent of Australians interacted with a chatbot within the past 12 months
- Of the consumers who worked with a chatbot, just 35 per cent reported that they resolved the problem using the chatbot
- 22 per cent of survey participants believed that the bot did not have enough information or the correct information to solve their problem or answer their question
- 27 per cent of Australians surveyed received a suggestion to call a customer service representative when the chatbot did not sufficiently answer their query
- Of the survey respondents, 14 per cent got direction to reach out via a web form
When opting to use a new and often sophisticated bit of technology, it is important to assess your needs and direct your attention to the area that will help meet your customers’ needs and expectations.
Being objective can be difficult, especially if you are dealing with unfamiliar technology. Sometimes, a streamlined version of the technology you want can be more useful to your company than one with all of the bells and whistles. Tech, for the sake of tech, is not an effective strategy.
If you are unsure about chatbots but think this is an area that could benefit your business, you may want to consider working with a professional. Experienced digital marketers such as myself understand the advantages of various tech and can direct you to the option that will help your company the most. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be happy to assist.