Chatbots and Your Business: Why the future is here.

Originally posted on Medium.

So if you’re like me, you’ve been hearing a lot about chatbots. Also, like me, you’ve probably been skeptical — your first thoughts forming a picture of Terminator, or Her (Scarlett Johansson please marry me). To be honest, that’s perfectly reasonable, though Mark Zuckerberg might have something else to say about that.

I won’t get into the debate about artificial intelligence here (that’s an entirely different article, or Elon Musk’s next book). Today, I want to talk about chatbots, especially because the hype train has fully left the station. Yes, that’s right — chatbots are here to stay, and if they are we need to understand how to use them.

I guess the first place to start is, “ What is a chatbot?”

 As outlined in this amazing beginner’s guide post by Chatbot Magazine (yes that’s the real name), a chatbot is:

A service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface.

Basically, chatbots can be helpful because most people already interact with apps on a textual basis. A good bot will help them get exactly what they want quicker.

Thus the hype might be justified; if you can provide better customer service for customers, you’ll have higher retention rates and a longer customer lifetime value (CLV). But that’s only one of the reasons chatbots have the potential to up your digital marketing game.

One of the areas that chatbots can be most effective is with customer service. Back in April of 2016, Facebook released their API for chatbots, thus opening the gates for a flood of new businesses to use them. As seen in this Accenture report, chatbots in a pilot program resolved 82% of all questions at a European telco company.

Can you imagine what you can do with 80% more time?

That’s so many cat videos! I was going to link to a video, but your attention spans are horrible!

But seriously, using chatbots for customer service may mean that your employees can take more time to handle the more complex inquiries — which usually ends up being the stuff important to your bottom line (isn’t there an adage about 80% of the headaches being caused by 20% of the problems?).

Another area we see chatbots proving their worth is return on investment, specifically social spend. As ManyChat CEO Mikael Yang outlines, a couple of their clients have seen ROI’s of upwards of 4-and sometimes 500%. “How?” you might ask. They’re simply using ads to draw potential customers in to chat sequences and closing the sale using their chatbots. It’s safe to say there are even more innovative ways that businesses and entrepreneurs can use chatbots to increase their ROI on social media.

Drawing it all together, we’re entering a world where you can have better, richer interactions with potential and current customers. Ultimately, this could mean no longer staying up until unhealthy hours of the night answering questions on end, as well as the ability to better serve customers with scary accuracy. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me!

But where does that mean we’re going? Well as it stands right now, the chatbot market is poised to grow 24% by 2025. That means if you haven’t hopped on board yet, you still haven’t fallen too behind. There are a good couple of places that you can build yourself a chatbot, in fact Hubspot just bought one of the better companies in the field. In fact, here’s a list of 10 hot chatbot builders, with varying degrees of technicality. Take a look and play around, there is definitely a lot of range with these.

Train leaving + station = You not considering chatbots

While it might seem that the future of chatbots isn’t quite upon us, we’re already a year into this trend (and you know how much tech can evolve in a year). So I implore you, if you have not thought of using them, please do. Yes, it may seem a little daunting — even creepy at first, and bad implementation will leave you in a Microsoft-esque PR snafu . But on the other-hand you may be leaving money on the table if you don’t at least consider using them in your business. And no one wants to hear “I told you so.”

I hope this has been helpful, if you want more tips, advice, and news, I’d be happy to see you join my newsletter (which I promise won’t clog your inbox).

Also, shout out to ChatBotsLife for adding me to their publication on Medium. It means a great deal!

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