The global chatbot market is growing at an unprecedented rate. It is expected to be worth $9.4 billion by 2024. That’s up from $2.6 billion in 2019. A rise of $6.8 billion.
The benefits of chatbots in delivering automated services to businesses are obvious. Around-the-clock real-time customer care boosts operational efficiency and reduces labour costs.
As well as being scalable to any business size, chatbots can help bring distinction to a company model, giving it a competitive edge over its rivals. This is why chatbots are often referred to as being “differentiators” by the business community and analysts.
But what exactly are the benefits of chatbots to business? And how do you go about implementing them to provide the best customer experience and growth?
This article will try to answer these questions by examining chatbot benefits in key business areas—from customer support and customer engagement, right the way through to marketing and sales.
But before we examine the benefits of chatbots in some detail, there are one or two preliminaries that need to be attended to first.
What is a Chatbot?
Put simply, chatbots are computer programs that are capable of simulating human to human conversations, in a natural way.
These conversations or “chats” can be conducted in either writing or speech and across numerous “channels”, ranging from web to social media.
Chatbots are fully automated software and programmed to work independently of humans.
How does a Chatbot Work?
Broadly speaking there are two varieties of chatbot: Rule-based chatbots, which provide “scripted” responses, and more conversationally advanced chatbots, incorporating artificial intelligence.
Rule-based chatbots have the ability to map out conversations, anticipate questions, and calculate appropriate responses. However, for the most part, they do not learn from these interactions and would struggle to establish “intent” outside of a predefined context or set of rules.
Conversely, AI chatbots utilize a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. These processes make them much more “conversational” than their rule-based counterparts, as well as context and intent savvy.
AI bots are capable of analyzing and processing large amounts of data relating to the “natural” language spoken by humans and acting on that data accordingly.
Conversational AI bots are intelligent computer programs that have the capacity to learn through experience.
What Are The Benefits of Chatbots?
Now that we have a basic understanding of chatbots and how they work, it’s time to look at the key ways that chatbot automation brings benefits to business systems and processes.
B2B or B2C, That Is The Question
As a prelude, let’s begin by dispelling a common misconception that chatbots only benefit B2C efficiency.
Chatbot implementation and deployment is expanding beyond traditional areas, such as customer service and responses to generic requests, into proactive business business areas like e-commerce, internal communications, HR, IT, marketing and sales.
So without further delay—chatbot benefits:
Improved Customer Support
Chatbots can play a particularly beneficial role in customer support and overall customer experience.
Chatbots are frequently deployed to perform a variety of customer support duties across a number of different business sectors and in a multitude of languages. These tasks include managing incoming communications and messages, as well as directing customers to relevant resources, such as bookings and after sales.
Around the clock real-time automated support is a significant asset to a business’ ability to deliver better CX and higher levels of customer satisfaction. In fact, 24/7 availability, instant responses and problem resolutions, are often cited by customers as being the chief benefits of communicating with a chatbot.
So, if you wish to introduce the level of customer service required to push up your Net Promoter Score—the customer satisfaction metric—by converting “passives” and “detractors” into “promoters”, then a chatbot could be the way to go.
Chatbots can be deployed across a broad range of business sectors, ranging from e-commerce and tourism, through to banking and finance.
Personalization of CX
Personalization can result in an enhanced customer experience and is a key benefit of chatbot functionality. Tailormade solutions based on previous conversations and interactions, drawn from a knowledge base, are well within a chatbot’s powers—particularly those of the AI kind.
By creating chatbots with personality and specific characteristics, your organization can enhance and improve the customer journey—as well as boosting its own image along the way.
Chatbot personalization is also a major advantage for diverse businesses that function in multiple verticals, or many niches, as one chatbot can assume various personas for different audience segments.
Automated Lead Generation and Qualification
Business growth is dependent on lead generation.
By providing rapid, real-time, automated responses, chatbots facilitate the faster pre-qualification of sales. This means leads can be processed and conveyed to sales representatives, or a CRM team, in a much more efficient and streamlined fashion than would otherwise be possible.
Chatbots are also proficient in the process known as “segmentation”. In other words, chatbots can quickly establish a “target” group for particular products or services, as well as answer questions and provide information about brand and corporate identities.
Chatbots dedicated to lead generation can initiate and set about cultivating a relationship with prospects.
Chatbot automation significantly streamlines customer journeys through the sales funnel.
The ability to convert visitors into customers is a key feature of Chatbot implementation. By customizing conversation flows, bots have the potential to turn every visitor into a customer.
Targeting on this scale facilitates the presentation of bespoke services and offers to your customers, while always leading the conversation towards predefined sales goals of your choosing.
By deploying chatbots to landing pages you eliminate unnecessary distractions from the main call-to-action on your site, and by doing so smooth the path to faster and more efficient conversions.
Highlighting the conversion process in this way, you create the environment to significantly increase new leads.
The fact that a Chatbot can learn from user interactions and is capable of sharing relevant information regarding brands, products and services, makes it an indispensable marketing tool.
Chatbots, particularly of the AI conversational kind, can assist in product recommendations and personal notifications, as well as initiating productive conversations. All of which effectively boost customer engagement.
Open rates and click through rates for chatbots outperform email. While chatbot bounce rates tend to be a little lower, giving you ample time to engage your customer in brand messaging, form filling, and call-to-actions (CTAs).
Social Media Engagement
Chatbots are particularly productive in social media and instant messaging contexts. Messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, Telegram and Instagram, all integrate chatbot technologies.
The operational benefits of chatbots on social media can be seen in providing automation for customer engagement, marketing, and digital sales strategies. Call-to-Action buttons, and Bulk Actions, deliver dynamic and interactive alternatives to traditional approaches to customer participation.
Chatbots can also be used for “onboarding” users by describing its services through interaction—while again pointing to a call-to-action.
2 billion monthly messages between businesses and customers on Facebook can’t be wrong.
The Popularity of Messaging—Reaching Millennials
The way in which we communicate is changing. Studies suggest that around 40 percent of millennials engage with chabots on a daily basis. In the information age, instant answers are preferred to “long winded” and sometimes inconsistent telephone conversations.
In fact messaging is the predominant form of customer contact, with 75 percent choosing it over the telephone.
Chatbots satisfy that need for instant, responsive, and interactive messaging. The conversational nature of the information imparted is an essential element of a chatbot’s uptake and appeal.
The fact is that chatbots are gaining in popularity around the world. Due to the perceived convenience of chatbots, both businesses and customers are embracing the idea of bots as necessary drivers of conversation.
A 2019 poll found that 62 percent of US customers preferred to use chatbots to interact with businesses.
Chatbots give you access to a global marketplace.
Tapping Into Big Data
Data is the bedrock of business efficiency and growth. Chatbots have the capacity to harvest and analyze user behavior and past conversations like never before. In this way they can reap the benefits of “big data”.
Big data is defined by the 3Vs: Volume, Velocity and Variety. Chatbots have the ability to manage and process this information in a way that just wouldn’t be possible using traditional retrieval and processing methods.
These data-driven “insights” are highly actionable in relation to sales, marketing and development strategies. For example, bots are able to offer personalised products and services, as well as send reminders and important customer notifications.
By drawing on these repositories, chatbots are transforming the definition of customer service.
The Analytical Approach
Most chatbots provide some form of reporting alongside the option to collect actionable user data. Chatbot analytics are vital when it comes to formulating the very best in service, sales and marketing strategies.
Some chatbots can also be connected to your CRM. This level of integration better facilitates the mapping and understanding of the buying journey.
Chatbot platforms have the potential to optimize knowledge bases in the service of business goals.
The Knowledge Base
Which brings us very neatly to the subject of knowledge bases.
Knowledge is one thing, knowing how to use it is quite another. A knowledge base can be defined as the brains behind the chatbot. Effective chatbot implementation and deployment is dependent on a well-structured knowledge base.
AI chatbots in particular rely on expanded data, for pattern recognition, drawing on past conversations and establishing contexts, so that they can formulate appropriate, “intelligent” responses.
Machine Learning technology allows chatbots to “engineer” the knowledge that you feed them.
Optimizing Your Communication Channels
Through multi-chatbot implementation, across a number of channels, such as web, social media, IM, etc., you effectively widen a business’s sphere of influence. But to be truly effective, your deployment of bots needs to stay on message.
This is where chatbot omnichannel features come in. A unified inbox across a number of channels, drawing on a rich “structured” knowledge base, delivers joined up customer and business services, and a seamlessly coordinated customer experience.
Omnichannel chatbots can be deployed over communication channels, such as websites, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom and Slack, to name but a few.
Joining The Dots
By incorporating Application Programming Interface (API) technology, chatbots can help integrate your core business systems and share actionable information and data across different software systems, like your CRM and marketing automation tools, for example.
Back office integration is critical in the creation of intelligent and actionable business knowledge bases.
Integration works in combination with multiple channel strategies. Integration allows you to effectively connect your chatbots across a range of apps and software, such as LiveChat, WordPress, etc.
Streamlined Internal Systems
Chatbots can also bring benefits to internal business processes. The automated onboarding of new employees, as well as quick-fire system notifications, are two examples of resource saving benefits to business.
An automated chatbots ability to multitask combined with improved integration, promises faster, leaner, and more collaborative interactions all around.
As well as lifting the burden on live agents, chatbots facilitate easier exchanges of information between various teams. Better, more streamlined, internal systems and communication lead to improved workflows, productivity and output.
Chatbots should be perceived as an opportunity for personnel to focus on more “high-value” activities rather than routine tasks.
The Best of Both Worlds
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves with the concept of full-automation, it is worth bearing in mind that there are certain scenarios in which it is not only desirable but also altogether necessary to keep a Human-in-the-Loop.
AI Chatbots can give you this option with HITL functionality.
A chatbot with HITL can provide seamless “handoffs” or transfers to human agents when there is a gap in support, a breakdown in context, or even at a preestablished strategic point in the conversation—for example during a high-volume sale.
Chatbot HITL significantly improves CX by leveraging the strengths of both worlds.
Ease of Implementation
Of course all the best intentions in the world mean very little without implementation. And implementation can be impeded by prohibitive costs.
Fear not. No-code chatbot platforms have heralded the beginnings of sophisticated digital solutions, at scale, and for every budget.
Building a bot for Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or the web is no longer limited to web designers and programmers.
Drag and drop, template based bot builders have brought the benefits of automated, intelligent, conversational chatbots within the reach of most business types and sizes.
The Power of “Lean”
Driving down operational costs is a key area of business efficiency and growth. The core concept behind a “lean” business model is to maximize value while minimizing waste. This is achieved by optimizing value stream processes with the minimum of resources.
Once again, enter the chatbot.
“Always on” real-time automated support, without the need for human involvement, not only benefits customer support, but also relieves already stretched personnel from the chore of performing repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Thereby at a stroke providing a boost to efficiency while bringing down overall manpower costs.
It doesn’t get much leaner than that.
Return On Investment (ROI) is often the deciding factor in justifying business decisions. By bringing down query resolution times, reducing the number of live agents, increasing leads, boosting sales and improving marketing strategies, chatbots make a convincing argument for their implementation.
Automated, 24/7 services are becoming increasingly the norm. Businesses that fail to conform to such expectations are already at a disadvantage and somewhat behind the game.
Chatbots bring you a good degree closer to an “always on” digital world. The question is, can you afford not to deploy them?
Q. What benefits does a chatbot bring to business?
A. Chatbot implementation brings with it a raft of benefits to business, ranging from enhanced customer experience, through to improved leads and better conversion rates. Automated, responsive, real time services, not only deliver greater operational efficiency and consistency of “voice” but also reduce business costs.
Q. Why are chatbots important?
A. Studies suggest that messaging is the preeminent form of communication. Most people would rather message a business than pick up a telephone.
Chatbots, and in particular AI bots, participate in these conversation flows to facilitate a more interactive and dynamic form of engagement. Through these interactions, chatbots optimize key areas of support, sales and marketing.
It could be said that a chatbot simply capitalizes on the basic human need to “chat”.
Q. How do chatbots benefit sales funnels?
A. AI Chatbots can engage with customers over multiple channels. In this way they can more effectively pre-qualify leads and ease them down the sales funnel.
Using relevant data to better understand the various stages of the buyer’s journey—i.e., awareness, interest, decision, and action—a chatbot can guide a potential customer from landing page to a predefined end point—usually a purchase.
A data driven “conversational” chatbot can draw an “intelligent” road map for sales, regardless of the size or niche of a company.
Q. Can anyone build a chatbot?
A. Gone are the days when you needed to be a programmer to build a chatbot.
No-code, drag and drop, template based chatbot platforms, mean that the building of an omnichannel, conversational AI chatbot, has never been easier.