What Business Chatbots Are and How They Transform Customer Engagement as We Know It

Long gone are the times when messaging apps were just for interacting with one’s friends. Now, thanks to the latest advancements in AI and the popularity of business chatbots, they’re also a vital tool for companies worldwide: a way to access millions of potential clients.

Chatbots for Businesses

You’ve heard of them, right? IBM, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Telegram – there isn’t a tech giant, it seems, that isn’t coming out with its own chatbot platform; which tells us clearly that the bot technology is here to stay.

But what is it exactly that makes companies, large and small, jump on the chatbot bandwagon so eagerly? And are there benefits a bot can bring to your business too?

Let’s try to figure it out.

First Things First – What do Business Chatbots do?

Chatbots are AI-powered conversational software programmed to mimic human interactions. They react to a conversational tone, just like your friends would, carry out routine business tasks and fulfill information requests.

Most likely, you’ve been already using bots, unknowingly; Siri, Cortana, S Voice, Alexa – all these wildly popular digital assistants are vivid examples of how helpful and essential this kind of technology has become.

The new, business chatbots, however, are triggered by textual queries rather than speech. They live within popular messaging apps such as Skype, Slack, Messenger and so on, and thus liberate clients from the need to visit a company’s website/download its app to get in touch.

Among other benefits (permanent availability, no time constraints, no hold time and overloaded phone lines, etc.) chatbots bring speed to each client-business interaction and improve therefore the overall customer experience.

What are Some Examples of Business Chatbots?

1. TacoBell’s famous Tacobot, which operates in Slack, lets people make orders, answers whatever questions a client might have about the restaurant’s menu, and, at times, acts like a smartass.

2. Erica, the Bank of America’s chatbot/financial advisor allows to check balances, save funds, pay down debts and make regular transactions. It gives out advice, directs clients to bank’s educational content and uses artificial intelligence and predictive analysis to improve their spending habits. Unlike other chatbots on our list, Erica can be activated by both chat and voice queries.

Erica, too, reacts to informal tone like TacoBot, but it isn’t as cocky. The chatbot is highly respectful and diligent as one would expect a real life financial assistant to be.

3. Sephora, the French-based cosmetic-brand giant, launched a chatbot in 2016 that works within the messaging app Kik. Upon saying “Hi”, it quizzes a user to find out their age and makeup products preferences. Then, it serves up appropriate pieces of content, such as how-to videos and product reviews, and, afterwards, makes relevant product offers.

Clients can fulfill their orders right there on the app, without having to ever visit an actual Sephora store.

Chatbots have been around for a couple of years, and, currently, there is too wide a variety of them to describe in a single post. So here’s, briefly, a short overview of the kinds of chatbots you’re most likely to come across:

  • News chatbots such as the Washington Post bot features the top news stories from the newspaper, displays sports, and elections coverage.
  • Weather chatbots. Pretty self-explanatory: such bots provide on-demand weather forecasts.
  • Scheduling chatbots take care of arranging users’ meetings; they email guests to find out when is the best time to schedule a meeting, and, then, send invites to a user’s inbox
  • Shopping chatbots simplify the process of buying anything. MasterPass bot, for example, allows clients to enter their credit card details into MasterCard’s app profiles, which connects to Facebook Messenger, and, upon that, make purchases using their phones.

So, why should you consider building a chatbot?

According to Gartner’s report, by 2020, clients will manage 85% of their interactions with companies without human involvement.

Chatbots, which can be built in a fairly short time frame, have proven themselves to be incredibly efficient in terms of enhancing customer service and reducing costs of support. They’re, also, expected to keep increasing their efficiency and, as the Jupiter Research states, in 2022, each chatbot interaction will a save a company $0,70 on average, compared to a traditional call center enquiry.

Clickatell, the provider of an on-demand customer service platform Touch, boasts of a 60% reduction in support expenses after launching their chatbot, while, overall, the bot technology is expected to cut business costs by $ 8billion by 2022.

And if the stats above still haven’t swayed you, think of this: there are currently over 34,000 chatbots in Facebook Messenger alone. Chances are, your competitors’ bots are among them, engaging clients and providing a quick, convenient customer service.

You can’t afford to miss out on such an opportunity, not in today’s competitive environment.

So, would you like to learn more about building a chatbot for your business?