Behold the Power of ChatBots
Despite previous generations’ claims to the contrary, automation isn’t the death knell of business. This is especially true when it comes to customer service in this got-to-have-answers-now digital world. And when we are talking about digital, we are including social media.
You might have a kick-butt website, a huge e-mail list and tens of thousands of social media followers, but you can’t do it all. If your business isn’t large enough to employ 24/7 real, live customer service reps standing by, you could benefit from some simple automation. A chatbot (or five) might be the answer.
If you’ve never heard of the term before today, you’ve certainly seen chatbots and have probably used them many times (especially when navigating health-insurance websites). But for definition’s sake, a chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. These simple programs treat conversations like they're a game of table tennis: talk, reply, talk, reply, and so on.
Chatbots especially save time and efforts by automating customer support. Technology giant Gartner forecasts that by 2020, more than 85 percent of customer interactions will be handled without human interaction. Customer service automation is huge, but chatbots are used for myriad other business tasks, including collecting information about users and then extrapolating that data for marketing and advertising campaigns.
Chatbots also result in:
Fast Response Times Less Legwork on Your End Fewer Order Errors Increased Customer Engagement Increased customer Loyalty
If you’re new to chatbots, visit sites that provide a good inventory of template services. Here are four of them:
For most businesses — even social media brands — the beauty of a chatbot is that is can help resolve problems almost immediately and almost every time (80 percent of queries are resolved without the need for human interaction. LiveChatInc specializes in this kind of service, especially with its live chatbots for mobile, desktop and web applications.
Most companies start by simply setting up a FAQ chatbot. Once installed on your site or platform, the pop-up box might look something like this when a customer visits your page:
CUSTOMER: Hi, do you sell bowhunting gear?
CHATBOT: Thanks for contacting us! Are you looking for:
Bows, Arrows, Accessories
Shooting Range Hours
Upcoming 3D Shoots
CUSTOMER: Great! Thanks, I’ll check out your site.
Think about that simple interaction for a moment. A potential customer likely became a customer based off of a simple automated widget that was built into the company’s platform. It’s so simple it’s stupid, but so many companies are still stuck in the 1990s — hoping someone is going to “pick up the phone” or drive to their brick-and-mortar store — most likely 9-to-5 — (when everyone else is at work, too).
Chatbottle is one of the first names that comes to mind when searching for chatbot services. offers numerous pre-built templates that businesses can use to streamline everying from online sales to lead generation for social media managers and, of course, customer service support. One example is an ecommerce store template that lets your users shop in Messenger directly. It also allows you to retarget users for abandoned carts and continuously engage with them.
For individual brands or personalities, another Facebook Messenger chatbot template helps you share events, sell products, tell stories, find new leads and motivate your subscribers.
Search for thousands of personalized chatbots from just about any category you can imagine. Very helpful chatbots featured on Botlist include Leadza, a personal advertising assistant for Facebook marketing; and Customery, an automated and human customer service running side by side, all within Slack.
Customery allows you to connect your social channels and let the chatbot look after the rest. Customer queries will appear in Slack as soon as they start the conversation, making sure all you need to do is provide quality customer service.
Customery also allows you to run your end-to-end social customer service from within Slack.
If you’re simply looking for a good chatbot to help automate your customer service approach, here are some specific services to consider:
According to a study by LogMeIn, proactive web chatters are six times more likely to buy than average website visitors. NanoRep is a proactive chat engine allows you to send a website visitor with the right message at the right time to engage in a live-chat interaction. This customer service bot can be as easy as plug-and-play, or as complex as slicing and dicing the entire journey your customers took to find you. On the easy end, NanoRep allows you to track your customer’s location, the type of device they used to find your business and the type of product they want to learn more about. The NanoRep chatbot was so efficient that it was purchased by Bold360 before it barely got off the ground. It is now integrated in the company’s menu of offerings.
The Big Question
OK, chatbots work. They simplify tasks and move your business or brand into the new age. Already know what you’re going to ask: How much?
Like everything else in the outdoors industry, it depends on what you want to get out of the experience. Do-it-yourself templates from Chatbottle or Botlist can range for relative peanuts — $69 to $219. Of course, you get what you pay for. In those cases, the templates are pretty bare bones and lack the technical in-depth response mechanisms that some businesses will want and/or need. More complicated bots that include user-specific info and address specific business tasks might require a from-the-ground-up custom build. That can be pricey. Some estimates for business-specific bots range from $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the required programming.
Don’t let these price tags scare you. Before diving into the bot pool, do some research on what you will need and how much that automation might save you over the long run. In the final analysis, the money you spend will positively impact your ROI if you go in with a solid game plan.
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