Engaging with customers used to be as easy as having an account representative to directly attend to their questions and concerns. But, not anymore.
Over the past decade or so, we are gradually seeing calls and emails being replaced with a slew of other options for immediate responses to customer enquiries—arguably the most obvious of which is social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other instant messaging apps—Messenger, WeChat, Viber, among others—became the preferred way to communicate with businesses across the spectrum.
But, today, there’s another emerging technology that offers a new way to run customer service: chatbots.
A 2016 study predicted that by 2020, 80% of businesses will use chatbots. Similar research forecasts that this AI technology will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion annually, with healthcare and banking sectors projected to benefit the most.
All these figures raise the question: does your business need a bot?
Short answer: Yes, your business needs a chatbot. But, for an in-depth answer as to why you need one, OOm, your trusted SEO agency in Singapore, will explain further.
Part I: What Are Chatbots?
In a nutshell, chatbots are AI-based computer programs that simulate conversations based on a set of predefined conditions, triggers, and/or events. They interpret and process requests and give prompt relevant answers.
While the concept of chatbots is far from being new, applying this AI-technology in digital marketing is a relatively new trend. Today, bots are being deployed across websites, applications and messaging channels including Messenger, Twitter, and Whatsapp.
The Applications of Chatbots
✓ Customer Service
A previous report said that 67% of consumers worldwide use chatbots for customer support and that 80% of customer service questions could be answered by this AI technology. Being one of the key business functions, automating customer service can save an organisation as much as 30% of its operational costs.
Some key customer service functions include:
- Website Support
- IT Helpdesk
- In-App Support
With chatbots, you can segment your leads into the sales funnel by transferring them to your sales representative and assist them further.
Some key functions of sales bots are the following:
Segmentation – Identifying the products your visitors are interested in.
Pre-Qualifying Leads – With a predefined sales questionnaire, sales bots can convert visitors into prospects, directing them to the next level of the funnel.
Bookings – Bots can assist in booking appointments and this is particularly useful for businesses in personal services, hospitality and/or healthcare.
Contrary to the idea that chatbots lack personalisation, they can actually learn from user interaction and provide relevant information regarding a particular brand, product, and services. An advanced chatbot is able to up-sell in a personalised and engaging way, with minimal effort to the business.
The marketing use of chatbots often revolve around:
Product Recommendations – Recommend products or services based on the user journey.
Proactive Conversations – Initiate proactive conversations.
Personalised Notifications – Learn customer behaviour and personalise conversations.
Global Brands That Use Chatbots
It was in 2017 when Facebook acquired an AI startup to provide its users with a seamless experience when reaching out to brands or services on their messaging platform.
Google eventually followed suit by acquiring a San Francisco-based AI chatbot startup in the effort to expand its reach into AI. With SEO agencies foreseeing the potential in this AI technology, they are pushing brands to launch chatbots on their business platforms to deliver prompt customer service—it’s safe to say that chatbots are no longer exclusive to global brands.
According to a 2018 report, the global chatbot market is estimated to exceed $1.34 billion by 2024. Discover some other interesting statistics about chatbots:
Chatbots In Customer Service: Statistics & Trends
- The global chatbot market is estimated to reach $1.34 billion by 2024—up from the $250 million revenue in 2017 (ClickZ, 2018)
- 85% of customer engagement will be managed without human interaction in 2020 (Gartner, 2011)
- Facebook has over 300,000 active Messenger bots in 2018, which is 3x as many as in 2017 (VentureBeat, 2018)
- 63% of users already use AI technologies without realising it (HubSpot, 2017)
- On average, about 69% of chats are resolved from start to finish using chatbots (Comm100, 2020)
The Problem With Traditional Customer Service
The last time you were on a live chat, did someone respond immediately or did you have to wait for them to get back to you? We’re guessing you had to wait.
It can be quite annoying when you need an immediate answer but can’t get it. Often, it leaves you with no option but to send an email or most likely, search for other brands. When you’re a potential client, it could mean a waste of time for you but if you’re the business, it means the loss of a likely customer—and it’s merely some of the many problems you could encounter with traditional online experiences.
In the 2018 State of Chatbots Report, the following are some of the frustrations that over 1,000 respondents have encountered in the past:
While live chat is a great technology, it could leave your customers unsatisfied, unless you know how to implement it. You have to make sure that your customers don’t have to wait on hold and respond to them immediately. But, of course, with running your business, it’s not always possible—and this is where chatbots enter into the picture.
Live Chat And Chatbots: What’s The Difference?
Chatbots are meant to resolve human limitations. But, while responsive, they remain limited themselves. In most cases, they can’t provide answers beyond what they are taught to say. So, how come they are hailed as the future of customer service?
Allow us to compare the two.
|A live chat is carried out by a human, which may not always be available 24/7.||A chatbot is a machine that is capable of immediate responses.|
|Unless it is capable of tracking user information, personalising a conversation may be difficult.||With the ability to track user information and conversational data, a chatbot can personalise user experience.|
|It is capable of handling complex customer inquiries—particularly those with difficult technical terminologies.||Modern chatbots can be trained to handle complex inquiries. But, the majority of organisations today have yet to adopt this technology.|
|It may have limitations in terms of handling multiple conversations at a time.||Multi-tasking is easy, provided that it is supported by an AI mechanism.|
|It may not be efficient when the type of customer inquiries are simple and repetitive.||It is particularly useful in automating responses to inquiries that are simple and repetitive.|
Part II: How Can Chatbots Be Implemented?
The evolution of chatbot has been as dynamic as the development of its capabilities. Today, there are many different types of chatbots, each defined by their technical complexity and broadly categorised into two types: basic chatbots and smart chatbots.
Two Types Of Chatbots
Basic chatbots also go by the names scripted chatbots or rule-based chatbots—and if these are not any indication, these chatbots have limited capabilities. They are task-specific and designed to respond to specific commands and answer to specifically-phrased questions.
They have a set of questions a user can respond to with a predetermined set of answers that the bots understand. It’s often the case that a user doesn’t have to type anything in but instead, select from the options provided. A typical example is a chatbot based on clickable menu buttons.
✓ easy to use
✓ ideal for simple and repetitive inquiries
✓ can answer inquiries about the menu, bookings, business hours, delivery status, etc.
Smart chatbots are also referred to as conversational chatbots, which are much more interactive and personalised than basic chatbots. With AI and machine learning capabilities, this technology can converse with users almost in a way humans converse and communicate in real-life situations. It is so advanced that in some cases, customers don’t realise they are speaking to artificial intelligence.
A great example of smart chatbots is contextual chatbots that utilise machine learning and AI to recall conversations that happened in the past with users to learn and understand user behaviour. Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are some of the examples of contextual chatbots, which are also voice-enabled chatbots.
✓ understand the context and intent of complex conversations to provide more relevant answers.
✓ use predictive intelligence to understand users on an emotional level.
✓ utilise machine learning bots to learn from user behaviour and further personalise conversations.
How To Implement Chatbots In A Website
There are at least three ways to get chatbot: using a chatbot platform, using ready-to-use chatbots via messaging apps like messenger, or building one from scratch.
No matter where you deploy a chatbot, the purpose of this technology is to help your visitors by answering their questions, find information about your product as well as to offer upsell options. As an SEO and web design agency in Singapore, we have been helping our clients deploy chatbots for their websites.
On our website, we use Collect.Chat as our chatbot server. It helps us qualify and convert visitors into customers by saving them from having to fill-up boring forms and instead, engage them in a conversation.
— using a chatbot platform
Chatbot platforms are boon for businesses that are looking to have this technology sans the effort and time. Many of these platforms can get your chatbot up and running in minutes with their drag and drop tools that let you add relevant questions and customise, among others.
You can easily install the bots using HTML codes or WordPress plugins, among others. Once in place, you can get instant notifications about inquiries and what is more, you also have the option to integrate them to other apps without coding.
✓ easy to use
✓ zero coding
✓ live chat transfer
— using ready-made chatbots via messaging apps
Similar to chatbot platforms, the benefit of using ready-made chatbots provided by messaging apps like Messenger stems from its convenience and ease of use. These are also powered by chatbot platforms, which you can link to your Facebook Page.
✓ reduce workload
✓ 24/7 availability
✓ instant access to basic business information
— building from scratch
You can also build a bot from scratch if the nature of your business is unique or very complex. In such cases, you can work with a web design agency in Singapore to give what a ready-to-use bot platform may not be able to—a specific solution that your business needs.
✓ custom bot for your website
✓ full control of your bot
Five Factors To Consider When Building A Chatbot
When creating your chatbot, there are at least six considerations you have to factor in to ensure that you deliver the right level of support for your audience.
What is your objective? What do you want your chatbot to do? Outline the business functions that you want to automate.
Which channel do your customers prefer to communicate on? Whether it’s ion a messaging platform—Messenger, WeChat, or Telegram—in-app, or on your website, you have to identify the channels where the majority of your customers are.
How do you want to sound? Give your bot a voice and personality. You can give it a name and picture but make sure that they align with your brand message.
When do you direct users to a sales representative? While the goal of chatbots is to automate a part of your business, potential customers will look for chat support at some point. Therefore, you have to define at what particular stage you will connect a visitor with a human agent.
How can you further improve? After you have tested and launched your chatbots, you will also have to measure its performance and make changes as necessary to improve its performance and answer to inquiries better.
Ready-to-Use Chatbots Or Build From Scratch?
In most cases, chatbot platforms or using ones via messaging apps are enough to cover your AI requirements. If your chatbot is merely meant to answer queries about your business hours or ordering process, building an elaborate chatbot with advanced AI capabilities may not be necessary at all.
Part III – Chatbots & SEO: Can Chatbots Boost Your SEO Strategy?
Chatbots boost operational efficiency and deliver cost savings to your business all while providing convenience and value-added services to end users. It allows you to easily resolve the majority of customer inquiries and issues while reducing operational costs.
This improved customer experience can, in turn, boost your SEO rankings.
How Chatbots Can Improve Your SEO
For instance, with your website being equipped with chatbots, you increase the potential to engage users and lengthen the time they spend on your website—a variable that Google takes into account when ranking pages.
It goes to show that chatbots do not directly impact your SEO rankings; it doesn’t actually make your Google rankings better by itself. What you can do, however, is to make sure that it matches your business strategies and has a clear role in providing value to your users. Otherwise, chatbots could be an unnecessary feature on your website that no one uses.
With all these factors considered, let’s take a look at the value of chatbots in your business—how it can help you win more customers and retain the existing ones.
- Reduce waiting time – A study shows that 21% of consumers see chatbots as the easiest way to contact a business and receive immediate responses without making them wait in a queue.
- 24/7 availability – An average consumer switches to a competitor if a brand doesn’t respond immediately. It proves the value of bots which are always available to engage users.
- Multitasking – Bots are easily scalable during peak hours and manage multiple conversations at a time without additional costs on customer service operations.
- Lead automation – With chatbots, you can automate your sales funnel, pre-qualify leads and direct them to your sales team for the later part of the process: conversion.
- Better website functionalities – Website usability is a key aspect of your SEO strategy and with chatbots in place, you move one step ahead towards user-friendliness.
- Reduce bounce rates – Ultimately, instant responses and better site functionality help reduce bounce rates and subsequently increase conversions.
- Insightful analytics – Chatbots are gold mines of data that allow you to track customer interactions, common problems, and frustrations. Such valuable information will allow you to segment your audiences more effectively and personalise your messaging based on their expectations.
How Will You Use Chatbots To Boost Your SEO Strategy?
Now that you are aware of what chatbot is about and how it could benefit your business, how would you then use it to improve your SEO strategy? We conclude with three tips on how to maximise the potentials of chatbots.
- Identify your business requirements and build your bots in a way that they match them.
- Use the right platform that supports both live chat and bots, so that in the end, you still have better control over conversations.
- Work with a digital marketing agency in Singapore that understands your business requirements and is capable of creating a strategy around it, chatbots included.
Final Thoughts: Will Chatbots Replace Humans?
The catch with chatbots is that this technology is relatively new in digital marketing. But, while it’s the case, this AI technology has already come a long way to become a fundamental part of every customer engagement strategy.
Although, you have to keep in mind that chatbots, along with other AI technologies, are not here to replace humans. Instead, they are posed to merely serve as an additional support to your marketing team and take over with the tasks that are repetitive for them.
Its goal is to deliver seamless user experience at every stage of their purchasing journey. On your part as a business, it could mean better engagement, increased conversion, and of course, positive word-of-mouth recommendations—the very link between chatbots and SEO.
OOm is an SEO agency in Singapore that offers web design services, among other digital marketing strategies such as content marketing, social media management and more.
Our goal is to help businesses maximise their potential in reaching out to their respective audiences, without further costs. We think the best part about chatbots is that they meet two of the many qualities of an effective digital marketing strategy: ease of use and cost-effectiveness.
Chatbots can be a cheap and easy way of providing valuable experience to your users. If you would like to understand further how they work or whether implementing chatbots on your website makes sense or not, get in touch with our SEO experts at OOm today.
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