Using Chatbots to Grow Your Business

How to use chatbots to grow your business - A Beginner's Guide

In the past few years technology has completely disrupted the way organizations and companies approach customer support and care. The introduction of chatbots followed the same pattern. Lots of research exists our there to back this up, just look at this one by Net Imperative that status that 89% of customers would rather communicate with a virtual assistant than a real person.  
With this post, we’d like to explore chatbots in the context of using them to grow your business. We’ll explore some fundamentals, imlplementation tips and even some of top tools that came up in our research. By now, if you’re reading this much, our very own chatbot “Anya” has already prompted you on the bottom right side of the screen. Go ahead, have a chat and experience it first-hand.
Ok, back to chatbots and learning more about them. Let’s begin.

Chatbot Advantages

Reduced Costs
Before the introduction of chatbots, companies had to rely on human support. Chatbots solve that problem by answering customer concerns and providing them with needed help and advice. Even though implementing chatbots isn’t free, think of how much you will be saving. You will no longer have to a) pay for dedicated human support and b) pay for their associated expenses (like phone bills). There are also non-monetary savings associated with chatbots, like time and effort— just think, no more contracting call centers!
Personalized Selling
With bots keeping track of every choice a user makes on your website, they are the perfect salesperson. They can effectively cross-sell, and upsell your clients. Also, over 50% of people believe businesses should be available 24/7— a schedule chatbots can work with! They can reach out and push products as soon as users become promising leads, giving more meaning to the saying “make money while you sleep”. Along the same lines, they are the best multi-taskers, as they can be chatting with multiple clients at once.
Easy to Use
Even better, chatbots are easy to use— for both you, and your customers! They are super easy to implement, more importantly, are incredibly user friendly. You can even optimize your chatbots for mobile. Since 90% of our time on mobile is spent on email and messaging platforms, they are extremely convenient for both you, and your customers. Moreover, since you can personalize your own bot, they are extremely implementable.

Chatbot Disadvantages

Security issues

Of course, when dealing with sensitive information, chatbots can be a liability. Sensitive information such as credit cards, personal information and others must be handled with care. You should be vigilant and proactive on monitoring your chatbots security system. This becomes even more important if your core business deals with customers personal information, such as banks. If customers do not trust the security of your chatbots, they will not interact with them!

Not All Bots Are Created Equal

There is a downside to chatbot personalization; you need to put in the work. If you are not the most chatbot savvy, your skills may be limited. Even if you are, chatbots can sometimes go a little rogue. When Microsoft launched their chatbot Tay, things quickly got out of hand. She was designed to communicate like a millennial girl, and learn from every interaction. Unfortunately, users started teaching her extremely inappropriate things, to which she, well, repeated. Moreover, customers have certain expectations for chatbots. If yours doesn’t meet, or exceed, these preconceived notions, your customers will be dissatisfied.

They Have Their Limits

Unfortunately, chatbots do have their limits. For the most part, they are currently unable to process complex questions or requests. Instead, they are better for more superficial communication. As such, so far they cannot completely remove humans from the equation. Moreover, their communication style is slighted limited. The average bot does not interpret sarcasm well, and will instead take it literally. Which is so helpful.

I know you’re already well acquainted with Anya on the right, but are chatbots really as good as they seem? And if so, how can a small business owner implement them into their customer care?

Chatbot Implementation

Now that you know about why you should implement chatbots, let’s go over some tips as to how best you can implement them.

Define Your Vision & Objectives

First things first, you need to outline your objectives, vision and long-term goals for your chatbots. Subsequently, you need to determine your target audience and use cases. If you’re new to the game, leveraging existing customers may be worthwhile. You already understand these customers, and retaining existing customers is much easier than attracting new ones. Afterwards, you should identify the tasks needed to reach your long-term goal. For example, if you decide improving customer experience is your main focus, your first task may be to identify common questions customers may ask your bots. After doing so, your next task may be to define your bots domain (ie. the topics they will know, and the breadth of their knowledge). It’s no surprise that different audiences use different slang terms and will have different expectations; so knowing this vital information can allow you to completely customize (and optimize!) the customer experience at every touch point. It’s also probably a good idea to try and predict future problems. For instance, what would you do if a customer gets stuck in a conversation loop?

Choose a Platform

Next step: Choose a suitable platform. Whatever platform you choose should align with your target audience and use case. Furthermore, your customers expectations will be different depending on which platform you use. It is important to be mindful of these assumptions, and act in accordance. For example, if you decide to target millennials, Facebook or Twitter may be viable options. However, this generation interacts with each platform very differently. Twitter is used more as way for customers to notify brands of issues, and hopefully get some compensation in return, while Facebook is used mainly for entertainment. Also, your customer’s location may influence which platforms you choose. If your target audience is situated in China, WeChat may be a platform to consider.

Build it with the Right Tools

Time to get your hands dirty— let’s start building! 40% of bot users disengage after only one interaction, so it’s imperative you build what the users want (it took us 35 min to build Anya on the right.. )
If you’re a bot baby (aka Chatbot beginner), tools like Chatfuel, Botsify and GupShop can really help. With Chatfuel, you can create a personalized AI Chatbot (with no coding!), and integrate your little minions easily within popular consumer platforms. This tool is used by some big brands, including TechCrunch, Uber, and Adidas. Botsify provides a simple interface and design process, user support and several platform integrations. They also have some shiny customers, including Apple! GupShop has pre-build templates, and building tools for everyone (bot babies and bot bosses alike) and for your entire chatbot lifecycle.
When building, it’s important to emphasize your chatbots tone, likeability, believability and brand voice. As discussed earlier, your bot also needs to effectively communicate with your target audience.
And always remember, just because it’s completed doesn’t mean it’s done! To keep your relevance and competitive advantage, you should continuously adapt and improve your bots. Tools like Bot Analytics can help, by gathering meaningful information about your bots performance, so you can make changes and improvements as necessary.

Test your Chatbot

Last, but certainly not least, you should test your chatbots suitability. Your bot should not only be functional, but also secure and appropriate for your target audience. For language, you should test for your bots tone, style, and overall understanding. There are some tools to help you at this stage, like the aforementioned ChatFuel— which can test your bots overall usability.
Considering all the benefits chatbots bring, and that the overwhelming majority of consumers would rather communicate with chatbots, you should probably get used to our friend Anya
Understanding your customers is crucial for the success of your bots, learn more about how you can with our recent article on persona surveys.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

The Millennial Movement: 7 Ways Your Business Can Optimize for Mobile-Savvy Consumers

The Millennial Movement - How to Optimize for Mobile-Savvy Consumers

Quick, throw out your desktops and burn all your landlines, the millennials are coming!
Millennials are non-traditionalists who want things their way, and they want them now. According to Pew Research, there are 75.4 million millennials in the United States alone; officially surpassing the number of Baby Boomers. With a buying power of over $200 billion, they are quickly becoming a hugely untapped market. With this in mind, millennials account for 41% of the total time Americans spend using their phones. Turns out the stereotype is true, millennials are glued to their phones. Predictably, they use their phones for shopping. In fact, millennials use their phones for every step of the buying process; for researching, browsing/evaluating alternatives, and during the actual purchase. As such, your small- to medium-sized business should change with the tide and implement an optimized, mobile-first strategy, or else face the same fate of the once popular Blockbuster video

How to Optimize for Mobile: The Basics

First things first, before you personalize your site to tailor the needs of millennials, let’s go over some basics:

1. Functionality

In order for Millennials to use your mobile site, it must be easy to use. Concentrate on clear, focused content, with large, easy to read text. Smaller screens will already make navigating your website harder, so having a cluttered/distracting layout and small font will only amplify this. Users should never have to pinch or zoom their screens in order to see something more clearly. Along the same line, keep menus and navigations limited. If your users have to transition between four different pages before they get to the one they want, they’ll be gone after the second page. You should also limit things that will slow down your pages speed, like pop-ups (which can sometimes be super-frustrating to close!)

2. Design

Mobile-friendly layouts are simple and well-integrated with your main website. User’s want the same feel and experience on a mobile site as they would from your desktop website. Having your sites match each other presents a united front and a stronger brand image. And don’t forget about your big-handed customers! Make sure the buttons are big enough for easy usage. Along the same lines, keep your fill-out forms to a minimum, as small screens and big hands can make them difficult to complete. Lastly, the site must be configured in a way that allows for easy scrolling.

3. Use Already-Existing Mobile Features

Take advantage of the various functions and features that are only available on mobile phones. You’ll be able to know where all of your users are located in real time, allowing you to better their search results, and better promote yourself. The camera and microphone also open up a ton of opportunities for user engagement, like barcode scanning, and visual/verbal searches. You can also utilize push notifications, as they are less annoying than email notifications, and easier for users to see. For example, instead of notifying a customer through email when an item has come back in stock, send them a push notification. Not only is this more convenient for them, but it also speeds up the buying process for you. Another way to shorten the buying process is by incorporating click through links on your site. A specific example of how to optimize for mobile is allowing users to click on your business’s phone number, and having their phone directly call.

How to Optimize for Mobile: Tech-Savvy Millennials

Customer experience is taking center stage in 2017, and millennials know exactly what they want. If you can successfully cater to this new and profitable target segment, you will be, as they say, “on fleek”.

4. Online Browsing

According to Data Mentors, 50% of millennials use mobile devices to research products and reviews, a whopping 30% increase compared with non-millennials. They search for product information, product details, and past customer reviews. As such, each item on your site should have an accurate picture, a concise description and a place for customers to directly comment their reviews.

5. In-store Shopping

Millennials use their phone during their entire purchase; a colossal 84% use their smartphones in-store to assist with their shopping. As explained by DigiDay, retailers can leverage this to their advantage in many ways. Home Depot lets their customers see an item’s inventory, location in the store, price, product details and customer ratings, all by using their phone to scan an item’s barcode. Millennials are price sensitive shoppers, and two-thirds use their phones to compare/check prices. As such, you should strongly promote any deals and price promotions on your mobile site.

6. Online Purchases

Unsurprisingly, millennials are not scared to shop online. Roughly 40% prefer to shop online and they are comfortable with paying through their mobile phone — Apple and Android Pay have made this possible. However, millennials are not immune to security concerns. One solution to combat this could be to allow customers to pay through gift cards, as 64% of millennials believe gift cards to be the safest online payment method.

7. Other Features

Since the majority of millennials still shop in store, your mobile site should support this. You can monitor visitors’ behaviour on your site, and, based on their GPS location, refer them to the nearest store location when the time is right. You should also have your store directory easily accessible and noticeable. Additionally, millennials are active social media users and value the ability to share everything online. You can add sharing features on your products, enabling customers to send any items they’re interested in to their friends. Through this, you can increase your exposure and reach, and millennials will appreciate their ability to easily share over their social media pages.
Plot twist, I’m a millennial (and yes, this may have been written on my phone). A new age is here, and your business needs to keep up with the times. Millennials are unlike any other consumer group and we have immense buying power. Ditch the old way of thinking, take a millennials advice and start investing in upgrading your mobile site.
Gotta run, my phones almost out of battery!
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in our recent article on how to “Modernize Your Business for Under $1000 Per Month”.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.