One of the essential parts of running a successful business is ensuring excellent service for your customers. As some SMB business owners look to enhance support for their customers, many are looking to new technologies like chatbots to help.
Chatbots are software applications businesses can use to conduct automated online chat conversations, similar to an instant message. While these chatbots often feel human, they are actually bots that can intelligently respond to customer questions or know when to pass off to a live human agent.
There are many benefits for SMBs to begin leveraging chatbots on their websites and other platforms like social media. These applications can help enhance customer service experiences or even help reduce overall costs.
Here are three reasons that an SMB should consider chatbot technology.
Reason 1: First Line of Defense
An SMB can leverage chatbots for the first line of customer service defense, answering simple questions that a customer might have, such as business hours or how to process an order return. This saves time for the customer (74 percent said they prefer chatbots for simple questions) and frees up the business’s customer service reps to handle more complex cases. According to Gartner, virtual customer assistants can help reduce call, chat, and email inquiries by 70 percent. It can also allow for more 24/7 support and serve as a pre-sales function, answering questions for potential customers about the product or service the SMB offers.
An SMB can further enhance this experience by leveraging AI technologies. Instead of inputting each potential question a customer might ask and providing an answer that the chatbot can respond with, AI allows the chatbot to be more “smart” and learn how to respond correctly. The result is a better experience for the customer and the ability to automate responses to more complex questions. However, leveraging AI can significantly raise the total cost of development versus providing the chatbot pre-fixed answers. An SMB needs to consider if this is worth the investment to them before proceeding.
Reason 2: Cost Savings
Chatbots can result in significant savings to the business, offsetting the cost of the initial development investment. In one survey, 57 percent of executives said that chatbots brought significant ROI to their business with minimal effort. Meanwhile, another report estimated that by 2023 chatbots would save banking, healthcare, and retail sectors up to $11 billion annually.
Reason 3: Enhanced Social Media Engagement
With billions of people using social media every day, SMBs must regularly engage with customers on these platforms. Luckily, many social media platforms and messaging services now have chatbot options built-in, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, and more. The result is a better brand experience, especially for Millennial customers, with 74 percent saying their perception of a brand improves if the company responds to their social media inquiries.
With more and more customers turning to digital channels, such as a company’s website or social media channels, for support or sales inquiries, business owners must consider ways they are optimizing how they approach these areas. Chatbots are one way to do this and can actually help an SMB reduce overall costs. With that in mind, it is a no-brainer to consider.