Chatbots a smart fix for your small business

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In this age of instant access, it is important to remember that customers are no longer willing to wait or go out of their way to obtain information, products, or services.

They expect fast responses.

Do your customers message you with queries or complaints on Facebook?

What do your customers want? Assistance!

When do they want it? Now!

Small businesses have limited resources, and Chatbots can offer a great way for them to engage with their customers, employees, and partners. Chatbots can help deliver the right answer the moment a customer asks.

What is a chatbot?
A Chatbot is a computer software programme designed to interact with people. It has the capability of simulating seamless conversations with customers and typically exists on channels like Facebook Messenger, Siri, WeChat, Telegram, Slack, Skype and many others.

There are basically two types of Chatbots: One that functions based on a set of rules, and a more advanced version that uses machine learning or artificial intelligence.

A chatbot that functions based on rules can only respond to specific commands while the latter functions using artificial intelligence and can get smarter as it learns from different conversations it has.

While this may sound overwhelming for small businesses, there are some simple ways to get started.
According to a recent study, 67 percent of people expect to use messaging apps to talk to businesses, which makes Chatbots very relevant to adopt.

As reported by Facebook, more than 330 million people connected with a small business on Messenger for the first time in 2017. Facebook says that is a good start.

Chatbots for small businesses?
All businesses are different in nature of operation and services they offer. It is ideal to have a Chatbot if your business falls into any of the following categories:

1. A business that receives many similar requests
A chatbot can be created to answer those typical questions that your employees have to answer repeatedly. These can be providing details on return policies, warranties, and related information.

2. Business that sells products that need low involvement
Some goods and services don’t require much time and effort on the part of the consumer to decide, such as cosmetics, food items, and common household items. Customers typically don’t spend a lot of time comparing the features of these goods. So, you can have a bot that immediately understands what the customer wants and offers suggestions without human interaction.

Why use chatbots?
For small businesses, 2018 can be just the right time to adopt chatbots and have benefits. Following are some ways chatbots can be a profitable step for small and mid-sized businesses.

Better Customer Experience:
Small businesses can take advantage of chatbots in serving their customers better by providing instant replies and solving their queries quickly. Chatbots offer easy access to information about products and services, and can give the ability to purchase them. Chatbots can provide rich content like images and videos helping customers better. The chatbot can automate low-value tasks focusing on those that really add value to the business.

The convenience of conversational commerce:
Some of the industry excitement around chatbots is the approach of customers purchasing an item within the context of a conversation – without needing human assistance. By having a dialogue with a program that learns and stores information, we’re likely to see customers placing orders with fewer steps than before, and in a much more user-friendly experience than having to manually use a shopping cart.
Consumers can jump from awareness to action with only a few messages with a chatbot. As this technology develops, the convenience of a bot will be immense.

How to get started
There are many free chatbots available that you can start with. The most popular and highly recommended is ManyChat. It lets you create Facebook Messenger chatbots to market your brand and gives you the ability to set up some logic steps where the chatbot can send automatic replies to help serve your customers quickly.

This tool requires no programming and all you need to do is connect your business Facebook page to ManyChat. It provides a complete set of growth tools that enables you to effortlessly grow your messenger audience and help convert anyone into a customer/subscriber. It also notifies whenever your attention is needed, making it easy to have a personal conversation from there. There are various other free chatbots also available like Chatfuel, ChatterBot, ChattyPeople and many more.

Chatbots are going to evolve with time and create more opportunities. Small businesses should include them in their wider business strategy. Development of chatbots is getting increasingly affordable, with some non-AI (artificial intelligence) bots being very low cost to implement.
It can be a smart fix for your business in 2018.

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About Author

Pooja Gupta

Pooja Gupta is digital marketing manager at Duoplus. pooja@duoplus.nz | www.duoplus.nz