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As more companies use online chatbots to engage with customers, the computer scientists building these technologies continue finding ways to improve them.
One example is the group of Facebook researchers who said in January 2018 that they were working on giving chatbots a consistent personality and teaching them how to ‘chit-chat.’
If you shop or bank online, you’ve most likely engaged with a chatbot at some stage.
These technologies may not be perfect, but they can be a useful tool for small and emerging businesses.
What are Chatbots?
Simply put, chatbots are computer programs that mimic a normal conversation. They have existed for decades in one form or another, but today’s chatbots are most widely used online. They may communicate through a chat interface on a company’s own website, or via other messaging interfaces, such as Skype, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger.
When it comes to online businesses, chatbots are used as a way to engage potential customers and process their requests or queries.
Chatbots are being used in new and interesting ways across a range of industries. Today, customers can order coffee, colour match lipsticks, and check their credit card transactions through these bots.
These unique and exciting chatbot features can set a new business apart from its competitors, while maximising opportunities for sales.
Automation of Repetitive Tasks
Chatbots can interact with multiple users at once, and instantly provide them with the information, links and solutions that best answer their query. If you’re a sole trader or part of a very small team, a chatbot allows staff members to put their time and energy into more complex tasks.
Positive Customer Experiences
One-on-one interaction is an effective way to engage with customers and influence their buying decisions. Although a chatbot is essentially ‘impersonal’, it provides users with an experience that seems personal, where their specific questions and requests are answered to.
An advantage of this is that unlike humans, the tone and friendliness of a chatbot is not influenced by their mood or their previous interactions, so businesses can consistently deliver a good first impression.
Some chatbots can use conversation histories to learn more about customers and tailor their responses. These technologies can also be programmed to speak multiple languages, making your product more accessible to a wider demographic.
Most small businesses do not have the resources to offer 24-hour support from their staff. By using chatbots on their websites or company social media pages, small businesses can provide support after-hours for many common types of requests.
Allowing customers to have an interaction with your brand around the clock can help your business build and manage relationships with customers.
Using Chatbots for Your Business
While chatbots can be extremely valuable, there are some tasks that should be handled by a human being. Chatbots can answer templated questions, but don’t have the human abilities to reason and improvise.
Chatbots are an efficient way to answer general questions and performing simpler tasks, but a good approach is to ensure that there are human beings available on a regular basis to respond to more complex requests.
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