Chances are, you’ve had at least one conversation with a chatbot in the past 12 months. Whether you were looking for a new place to call home, or simply doing a little holiday shopping online, many of us have found chatbots a helpful addition to the online shops and services we frequent.
Once more, these helpful little bots have been transforming the way customers engage with the brands that use them. After the tumultuous year that’s been 2020, more brands than ever are beginning to take advantage of the benefits chatbots bring to the digital customer journey. And to think, only a few years ago were people still largely mistrustful of online chatbots. As the years have progressed and the pandemic accelerated companies’ digital transformation efforts, chatbots have become an increasingly popular solution.
So what makes chatbots so effective in improving the customer journey? And what should you look for in a chatbot solution? We’ll explore all that and more below. First though, a quick run-down on what chatbots actually do.
What is a chat bot, exactly?
Simply put, chatbots make it easy for brands to carry on a conversation with a customer without actually having to speak with them. They’re built on a range of communication software, and can have many different features, depending on what they’re being used for.
While some allow users to chat via voice, most are text-based, making it easier for customers to quickly find the answers they need on their computer or smartphone. There are also different varieties of chatbots, with the most common being Rule-Based bots (also known as Guided Conversation). This type of chatbot provides users with a structured experience, guiding them down a decision-tree conversational flow. Through scanning the keywords in a person’s text, these softwares are able to guide people exactly where they need to go, can help them make purchases, send documents, and even sign leases.
How chatbots improve the customer journey
A high-quality chatbot can have a measurable impact on your customer experience and success. In fact, they’re often so helpful, 35% of consumers want to see more of their favorite brands leverage online chatbots.
Let’s break down how chatbots can enhance and streamline your customer’s journey.
Chatbots are like a search bar
Even if they’ve visited your website several times, most people won’t know how to proficiently navigate your site. This is where chatbots can come in handy. Instead of having to spend precious time navigating around your site or reading tedious FAQ pages, chatbots can act as a search bar into which users can ask for things to be shown to them directly.
Instead of interrupting your customer’s experience, a chatbot can bring potential customers exactly what they need – and ultimately help you increase your site’s conversion rate. Since chatbots are so helpful as a search function, it’s important to display them front-and-center on your site, or even have them follow users as they navigate through different pages.
Customers can personalize their own experience
It’s not just about calling customers by their name. Depending on the level of your chatbot software, people can personalize their experience and gain a sense of continuity with your site. For example, if you run an eCommerce retail brand, a chatbot can keep track of customer preferences, their past purchases, questions and even keep track (and follow up on) potential complaints.
Additionally, a great chatbot reflects the brand it represents. If part of your mission is to be a calm, cool, and collected repository of knowledge in your industry, your chatbot’s conversational style should mirror that. Or, if you like to have fun with your customers and have a good sense of humor, that can be programmed into your chatbot as well.
They create less friction
It’s a fact of life in the digital age – most people dread having to talk to customer support. A well-designed chatbot can help eliminate that common concern, helping eliminate friction within the customer journey.
Friction arises from inefficiency, and inefficiency happens when people can’t find what they’re looking for. With chatbots, users can get their questions answered instantly, and any queries that aren’t able to be processed are automatically sent to the appropriate department for resolution. Instead of having to do the back and forth with customer service reps, people can get their answers on the spot.
Chatbots can help collect better information for your brand
Most people aren’t inspired to voluntarily fill out a form or sign up for something on your website. However, chatbots make it easy for customers to input their information, and for brands to collect that valuable information. They’re a useful tool for eliminating the overwhelm users can feel when presented with a long response form. Like a good conversation, a good chatbot can adapt questions to user input, making for even more detailed data.
When it comes to collecting customer feedback, chatbots are great at prompting people to submit their experiences in a natural, non-intrusive way. For example, if someone recently made a purchase and you want to get their feedback, utilizing a chatbot can prompt a much more detailed response than a traditional feedback form.
They make the experience memorable and convenient
Unlike sales and customer service teams, chatbots are available 24/7/365 which is especially helpful for people needing help after typical hours. And if you’ve programmed a ‘personality’ into your software, your customers are bound to have a memorable experience.
These days, it’s not enough to offer a competitive price. Consumers expect a great experience as well, and expect to be able to find all the information they need quickly and seamlessly. A well-designed chatbot carries the advantages of being able to deliver exactly what your audience needs, whatever, whenever, and potentially however they want – and that could be enough to win your brand a new loyal customer.