Most small business owners, especially in the tech industry, have now heard about chatbots.
You may have read about these little conversational programs that allow us, humans, to interact with machines. You may even have talked to a few of them. Maybe you spoke to the Domino’s pizza chatbot, Poncho the weather chatbot, or PG tips’ Monkey chatbot.
“A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface.”
Amidst all this, you’ve probably wondered about the impact chatbots will have on your business. This is only fair; they are impacting every industry. How will your business fare? What should you do to prepare? Should you worry or rejoice?
In this article, I will cover six things you, the entrepreneur, need to know about chatbots. Let’s bust some myths and get you ready for the 21st century, conversational-style!
1. The chatbots are here
About a year ago, all I could write about was the future influence of chatbots. ‘Chatbots are coming!’, we wrote over and over again, ecstatic.
That time is over.
Chatbots are now here. Anyone still boasting their upcoming arrival is about six months late, which is approximately 23 years in the tech industry.
There is no denying their presence. Like I mentioned in my introduction, some of the biggest brands are already using them. Luckily, the chatbot trend is not so far under way that you cannot catch up. A quick read through this article and a bit more research, and you’ll be up to date.
Your business stands to gain a lot from the arrival of our robotic chatting friends. There is no more time to deny or wait. It’s time to catch up.
2. They are here to help
There is much talk on the topic of artificial intelligence and the way it will impact our lives. Some speak of the singularity; others completely refute the idea.
The thing to remember right now, as a business owner, is that chatbots are here to help. They are robots programmed to help you achieve better results, work more efficiently and make your life easier. You are in complete charge of what they do because, ultimately, you are in charge of what you tell them to do.
What I want to get across is that there is nothing to fear. The chatbot revolution is an exciting time for everyone, and business owners have the most the gain from it.
3. Business operations will change
How will chatbots influence your business, you ask? By impacting every department. Whether it is improving conversions rates on your landing pages (sales team), speeding up time to response on your customer enquiries (customer service team), or unclogging the employee enquiry mailbox (HR team); chatbots are everywhere.
Your operation may not be big enough for you to think of all the implications just yet, but it pays to be prepared.
Let’s take your customer service team, for instance. It is common to assume that 80% of the enquiries they receive cover about 20% of the topics. There is a lot of automation possible right here; automation made easy with chatbots.
What if a customer service chatbot were to take half of these repetitive enquiries and answer them automatically, conversationally, 24/7? Talk about a massive weight lifted off your customer service team! Now they can focus on answering the questions that demand a more human touch.
The same rule applies to every other department. Chatbots will help your business be more efficient on all fronts by automating what can be automated and freeing up time for you and your employees to do what they do best.
4. Your customers are excited
When talking about chatbots, consumer approval of this software is a common concern. Do your customers want to speak to a robot? Wouldn’t they prefer to interact with a human?
This is a very valid question, one many ask. It turns out; studies show consumers are looking forward to using chatbots.
My company, ubisend, recently carried out an extensive research that shows, even though only 25% of UK consumers have used a chatbot, 35% already want to see more companies adopting them.
Another study by HubSpot shows 40% of consumers don’t care whether they are talking to a customer service human or robot, as long as they get their answer.
The chatbot revolution is not just an exciting new tech opportunity to geek out in. It is something us consumers look forward to, something that will change our lives for the better. As a business owner, you need to be aware of your customers’ mindset towards this sort of automation.
5. Adoption needs to happen now
Remember when I said people announcing the upcoming arrival of chatbots are six months late? This will soon apply to business owners delaying action.
Adopting chatbot technology in your business may sound futuristic to you now. I assure you, in six months your competition will have made the plunge, and you will have been left far behind.
Business Insider predicts by 2020, over 80% of businesses will have conversational automation in place. Don’t get left behind. Two and a bit years may sound like you have time to get there, but you do not. Chatbot adoption takes time. There are things to plan (see pt. 6 below), things to develop, and things to fix.
Again, this is not the technology of the future. As a small business owner, you cannot afford to be left behind. You don’t have the millions to splurge to catch up at some point down the line as some multinationals do.
6. Your brand has a lot to gain, too
Throughout this article, we talked about using chatbots to reduce workload, speed up processes, and turn up efficiency.
That’s not all they do.
Right now, chatbots are still very new and exciting to everyone. On the one hand, the unknown is the reason why so many businesses will get left behind in six to twelve months. On the contrary, this is the reason businesses that take the plunge have so much to gain.
Another interesting data point gathered from the ubisend research is the consumers’ impression of companies that use chatbots. 43% thought of these businesses as innovative, and 22% as more efficient.
Chatbots do not just impact your bottom line. They will also impact the perception your customers have of your business.
Are you forward thinking and ready to embrace the future?
This article has been edited.