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Chat about Chatbots for Small to Medium Businesses

In our recent article about the Business Basics Fund, we reported o some of the latest technology being used by businesses.  The Business Basics Fund was created to help small to medium sized businesses here in the UK to adopt digital technology to improve productivity.  We mentioned Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots, so today we’re brining out readers a full explanation of chatbots and how they can help your online retail business in the future.

For those of you wondering, a chatbot is an AI programme that enables an interactive simulated human conversation using pre-calculated user phrases and auditory or text-based signals.  They are often used as a basic customer service and marketing tool on social networking platforms and for instant messaging (IM) customers.  Business owners usually include these in their operating systems as an “intelligent virtual assistant”.  Chatbots are also known as chat robots, talk bots, chatterbots or artificial conversational entities (ACEs). 

The most efficient use of chatbots is in situations where simple interactions with a limited range of responses are necessary.  Customer service and marketing applications use chatbots to provide answers to frequently asked questions about products and services in online or messaging apps.  If a potential customer’s questions are too complex for the chatbot to answer, that specific customer is usually elevated to a human customer service operator.  Failing to do this and relying solely on your chatbot won’t win you any points.

Chatbots can be programmed to answer the same way each time, or to respond differently to messages containing specific keywords – they can even use matching learning to adapt their responses to suit the situation.  They come in a range of forms and their use by businesses is on the increase.

It’s not just the huge, multi-national companies that use chatbots – smaller companies are harnessing their power because of the value they bring.  Just look at the following statistics:

  • 56% of potential customers would prefer to message rather than make a call to the customer service helpline
  • 53% of customers are more likely to purchase from an online retailer that they can message in this way
  • Two billion messages are sent between businesses and customers monthly

The main reasons for most potential customers to use a chatbot are:

  • To get an instant answer to a query, rather than email and wait up to 48 hours for a reply
  • To resolve a complaint or problem
  • To get a more detailed answer to a query
  • To find a human customer service agent

While most customers find chatbots a convenient method of communication, they have a lot in the way of benefits to offer businesses.  You can harness the power of a chatbot to streamline your customer communications process and automate your social media marketing.  Automating as many processes as possible is an effective method of staying ahead of the field in modern business, so using a chatbot may be all that you need to take your business to the next level.