5 Ways SMBs Can Improve Business with Chatbots

Commerce is rapidly entering the chatbot era. Chatbots — commonly referred to as bots — are designed to integrate with web and mobile platforms. It interacts with users where a live person would have previously. In fact, a term commonly used to describe bots is “virtual assistant.” They can free up time for customer support agents and business owners.

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) driven chatbot services like Twyla, for example, ‘learn’ by evaluating your team’s customer support chat logs. You can then optimize responses for accuracy, helpfulness and brand voice. This allows existing customer service agents to handle more complex tasks or questions.

In addition to reducing costs for live customer support, here are six chatbot technology programs that may help small business owners improve operations:

1.) Administer Marketing Campaigns

Shopify says you can “hire” its “virtual marketing employee” Kit starting at just $10 per month. The Kit API performs digital marketing tasks, such as email marketing and Facebook and Instagram advertising. It also sends a daily follow-up via SMS or IM with advice on how to improve marketing campaigns. Users can implement at the click of a button – by simply replying ‘Yes.’

2.) Manage Online Sales

Chatbots can improve online sales channels by seamlessly handling online purchases. The 1-800-Flowers chatbot  launched on Facebook Messenger, offers users suggestions on arrangements without having to speak with a sales agent. 1-800-Flowers president Chris McCann told Digiday, “Over 70 percent of the company’s chatbot orders have been from new customers.”

3.) Personalize Online Transactions

Some big brands, as well as personal stylists and makeup artists, are using Kik’s Bot platform to up-sell via product recommendations. Let’s take this particular Kik bot, if a customer is shopping for dresses, the A.I. can suggest options based on the available inventory. Then it suggests related items to complete the outfit, such as matching shoes or accessories. If the customer doesn’t make the purchase at that time, the chatbot can access and utilize the conversation the next time the customer visits.

4.) Improve Customer Self-Knowledge Base

Similarly, bots can be used to improve your customer knowledge base by providing accurate company and product information. noHold, Inc’s Albert is a patented technology that feeds bots information from Word and Google documents. It turns Product Guides (or backend Policy Manuals, etc.) into informative conversational chatterbots, reducing delayed response times and misguided information.

5.) Boost In-Store Sales

Shopping companions like Amazon’s Echo (and Alexa Skills Kit, the voice behind Echo) helps brands connect with customers using voice commands. For instance, say “What’s for dinner?” and the Campbell’s soup bot instantly gives meal and recipe ideas. Small business owners such as liquor distributors and apparel brands can utilize this technology to direct customers to retail locations where their products can be purchased (i.e. “Where can I find..?”).

6.) Answer Employees’ Questions

Loka, Inc’s Jane is an employee information chatbot for businesses on Slack. Employees can ask it anything and receive a timely response – allowing HR departments to tackle bigger problems. In addition to answering frequently asked questions like, “When is payday?” these bots can alert HR teams to potential issues or gaps in employee knowledge. If, for example, the system is receiving an unexpectedly high amount of expense reimbursement questions, this can indicate a problem with accounting software that needs to be addressed.

While the human touch will never 100% disappear from business, chatbots can be a way for owners to automate some business functions. By integrating chat technology with existing processes, businesses can push their companies into the future while providing excellent interactions for customers and stakeholders.

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