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Could chatbots revolutionise your business?

Businesses need to engage with their customers in a human-to-human way, and social media platforms have offered a way of doing that. But now the bots have arrived and customer engagement is taking on a new lease of life. It seems that brands are falling over themselves to launch chatbots and over the past 12 months all the big tech companies – Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple – have announced that bots (both chatbots and virtual robots) feature heavily in their future plans.

What are chatbots?

Chatbots – or chatterbots, talkbots or Artifical Conversational Entities as they’re also known – are essentially user interfaces that are designed to simulate conversations with human beings.  They use machine learning to mimic a real-life chat and react to spoken or written prompts to deliver a service. 

Domino’s Pizza was among the first companies to see what bots can offer a brand. Customers are able to order a pizza simply by tweeting a pizza emoji to the @Dominos account. These tweets are then verified and processed by a bot. What was hailed by many as the ultimate in laziness (the brand preferred convenience), sparked a flurry of brands coming up with bot-driven ways for customers to browse, shop and consume content. And it’s not just tech companies and big name brands that are gaining from bots, they are just as useful for SMEs.

So, what difference could chatbots make to your business? Here are five reasons that might help you see the burgeoning bot ecosystem in a very different light.

1. They offer greater user engagement

Put simply, a bot is a computer that can engage in conversation with a user. The technology allows these chatbots to be increasingly engaging – and human – in the conversations they have. When dealing with a chatbot, customers are generally under the impression that they are speaking with a human being, rather than a computer. The efficiency of a bot (compared to a human) means that customers tend to receive precisely the answer they were looking for, which makes them more likely to return to your site in the future.

2. They are the epitome of mobile first

Bots are mobile optimised and ready to go; they are especially well-suited to mobile – far more so than apps. Unlike apps, bots require no development or iteration to engage users in mobile. Messaging is at the heart of the mobile experience, making bots the perfect accompaniment. They take the mobile-first approach to new heights and couldn’t be easier to implement. 

3. They make downloads a thing of the past

The app market is crowded and highly competitive, as a result it is extremely difficult to encourage customers to try your product, let alone show any level of brand loyalty. And just because a user makes the decision to install your app, there’s absolutely no guarantee that they won’t uninstall it in the future – whether due to inactivity or lack of storage space. With bots, there is no process of installation. They live within the browser or messenger, meaning users are free to try them out with minimal fuss.

4. They tap into the WhatsApp mindset

Today’s customers are perfectly happy with chat: apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have made sure of that. And because your audience is already familiar with the concept of chat there will be less of the resistance associated with making a transition away from websites and apps. 

5. They offer low cost and high returns

One of the most appealing things about chatbots for businesses is that they deliver plenty of benefits for minimal cost. Bot platforms come with a ready-made infrastructure, meaning you don’t have to worry about development costs. What’s more, because the system is automated there are no hefty back-end costs to worry about.
Chatbots means customers no longer have to spend time searching on the internet, waiting on the phone, switching to an app, or getting to grips with new processes. They offer instant familiarity and can help both your business and your customers make better use of their time.

Read our related article: Future of apps
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