Chatbots Accelerate Sales & Support
By Tom Cross @techtionary
Quick Summary – Top-10 Benefits
Automated chatbots are computer-driven (not live) chat communications applications that:
– Fit between live customer communications and static website content
– Are proven to reduce cost of sales by shortening sales cycle and assisting in sales efforts
– Reduce support costs not for the first call but for calls where user can be directed to specific FAQ
– Give immediate access to content customers are looking for without having to navigate the website
– Provide scalability – should your dream come true and you go viral chatbots can respond to the millions of inquiries received
– Are essential to crisis communications – when, not if, a crisis occurs, staff can be updating chatbot with breaking news
– Provide another means for customer communications as many use live chat in their personal communications
– Increase customer engagement and customer experience
– Provide the means for future communications options and ideas
– Demonstrate business/industry leadership
Chatbots – Customer View
Here are few views from interviews with customers:
“I am very busy and websites are generally very confusing designed from the company perspective not from mine. I need details now and while I have found chatbots not to be complete enough they do provide the means to help more.”
“Faster than ever calling any company, chatbots are really cool ways for me to find what I need now and now get stuck in a long call queue.”
“Calling the company any company is a waste of time. I need information that neither I find on the website or by calling the company. Google is often of little help.
Chatbots are not perfect but a good tool.”
Chatbots – Company View
Here are few company views from interviews:
“Chatbots are as often as good as any sales person. Sometimes their better because they are available to customers 7×24 and, most importantly, to the real decision-makers in the organization. Chatbots also opens up all kinds of new concepts and allows visitors to explore complex issues over and over again until they get it. Chatbots are also a great tool for channel partners as their questions are usually very different than customers – we actually have 3 chatbot services – internal, channel and customer. For end users chatbots really gives customers a more personalized reason to come to your web site.”
“Chatbots helps our customers to be more in touch with what we have to offer to them. We have found chatbots to be key element in the decision-making process considerably reducing the sales cycle. I have received email from folks who have visited our site saying that they find our chatbot to be an incredibly useful tool. In addition, several of our new employees use the chatbot to learn about the technologies and services offer. The chatbot is helping to keep our technical personnel ahead of the power curve and it is saving us money by providing what we need to know immediately saving truck rolls. I recommend chatbots as a necessary link for any business as a competitive edge.”
“We put all our internal and partner training in the chatbot and its really great for ondemand learning, doing and selling. We update daily so as our business changes and services expand the chatbot expand with us – faster, cheaper, better.”
“We are replacing entry-level sales and support staff with chatbots (yes, we have more than one) saving $100s of thousands a year and reducing the sales cycle by more than a month. We can now use our senior sales/support people in more profitable ways.”
Chat has been around since the beginning of computers having used one in the mid-1970s it was great for short one-line conversations like “wanna go for coffee.” We built multi-level chat in the early 90s for LANs allowing users to talk with up to 4 people at the same time which was very popular. By now via smartphone or other means, Twitter is really a form of chat as well as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Snapchat, SMS, and others form the basis of the major of consumer communications. Companies have been slow as running through sand to incorporate chat into their external business communications. Now we have chatbots integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) which for the most part is still like talking to a young child often as appealing or for many rather annoying. Today, automated chatbots and “live” chat are good for simple tasks such as what are your businesses hours, can I make a reservation, is my flight delayed and so on. If you analyze user communications, you begin to realize the limitations of chatbots to go beyond “simple” communications. Let’s explore some of the reasons why. Click on either image for indepth white papers on chatbots or Exhibit A (below) for more benefits.
Chatbots are important communication tools and before you begin you should ask 1) why are we capturing chatbot conversations, 2) what do we expect these conversations will tell us about what we are asking which leads to 3) will we really understand what they are telling us, 4) what should we do about what they tell us and within that aspect will they tell us what we are looking for not out thinking this communication parlay and 5) will we just spend a lot of time wasted on analysis ending up in some kind of analysis-paralysis. Actually, I found a reference to Thomas J. Watson Senior (1) about customer communication which is also my experience to simply “go see them without any planned survey but just sit down with them and listen, really listen to what they have to say” is more valuable than millions of dollars in surveys designed by people who really don’t understand what customers really want. This means that we should not replace chatbots for real customer communication but it can add an innovative means to provide the way to communicate with customers the ways they want to communicate with you.
Chatbots are not a panacea nor a singular solution to business operations but provides a means to add better, more personal and even fun way to connect and engage with customers.
Like with any plan, here are some of the key points:
– Start now – add a chatbot today and let people know you are “new” and may not have many answers.
– Start small – realize chatbots are not a panacea for “live” customer communication but help those who don’t want the pressure of live interactions.
– Keep expanding – listen, listen and listen even more to what users are saying and loo
king for and add that content in a way that users want it not the way you want to.
– Fit into lifestyle – build processes, training and linkages to all departments as users often not just want sales or support but random questions including emerging issues such as discrimination and environment.
– Live for life – chatbots like exercise are just one and done. Nothing is worth than a website than hasn’t been updated in year. Chatbots should be updated daily just to show you are really real.
Chatbot – Action Plan
If you are ready to take action now, depending on your requirements, we can begin today to help you build and maintain an IBM Assistant Chatbot for your WordPress website by an IBM Watson Developer – email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
(1) Father, Son & Co. by Thomas J. Watson & Peter Petre
Exhibit A – Chatbot Benefits
More consistent information
- Everyone – staff and customers can see the same stories – educate all the stakeholders at the same time – staff to decision-maker
More accurate information
- Less reliance on sales rep’s knowledge
- Less reliance on waiting on a sales engineer or customer service schedule
More information available anytime
- 7 days a week – 24 hours a day – anytime – all the time – anywhere
More versatile information
- Lots of ways to tell stories – for the CEO, CFO, technician, back office, front office, sales, support, investors, press
- Horizontal views for products & services
- Explain the world from many points-of-view
- Vertical views – banking, retailing, education, transportation, etc.
More accessible information
- Existing staff can review
- New staff can get up to speed
- Existing customers can explore-expand
- Customers can share with superiors-colleagues – company can share with decision-makers
- New markets are “already ready”
More detailed information
- Drill deep into the company
- High level into the business benefits
- Any level – customers can have it their way
- More manageable information
- HQ can work together in building the messages with users