We live in a magnificent moment of time when we can actually see changes coming to life and experience them on the go as they roll in. It is incredible how many and how much things are changing right now. Slowly but surely, little by little, these changes are transforming our lives, making it simpler, more focused on important things and less on superficial fluff.
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Chatbots are a crucial part of these transformations. It is fair to say that they are at the forefront of changes.
Over the course of a couple of years, the technology made a giant leap from a fancy toy to a sophisticated business tool that took over many of the functions that previously required a human touch and immense manpower. Not only they can talk, they can predict behavior, act preemptively and gather data. All of which improves and refines business operation in a way that seemed unthinkable just a decade ago.
How Chatbots Help to Evolve eCommerce
At the moment, chatbots are burgeoning business opportunity with seemingly limitless potential. And there is no market segment where it is more apparent than in eCommerce.
According to the recent stats chatbots are extremely lucrative industry with overall consumer awareness of the subject growing exponentially. Last year approximately 47% of the customers were ready to buy products with help of chatbots. And there are no signs that this number will drop anytime soon.
It is easy to understand why. Machine learning revolutionized the business and opened up lots of opportunities. Chatbots are able to pull off a variety of activities that were otherwise overwhelming without a fuss.
One of the most evident changes is in the user experience. No more users have to be on the own looking for something in the sea of plenty. A simple automated consultant can sort everything out according to any request.
Another segment where influence of chatbots is growing is data gathering. Because of their conversation mimicking abilities, chatbots are good at letting the customer tell what they want in detail. That is an oasis of data for advertising campaigns and invaluable source of service feedback.
It makes sense to explain in detail how Chatbots are transforming the industry and what are the major benefits of using them in eCommerce.
Let’s break it down bit by bit.
1. Consistency & Availability
It is an obvious thing to note — chatbots are ready for action 24/7 no matter the time zone. That means your business is blissfully lacking that mournful downtime when nothing particular happens.
All you need to do is to integrate a chatbot into your service, adjust it according to set requirements and let it do its thing i.e. the talking. It can’t go any simpler than that.
Chatbots primary advantage over humans is very simple — they don’t have off-work time. They don’t need a break, they don’t need to take some rest — chatbots are perpetually running entities.
Chatbots also eliminate such things as response time. With a chatbot intact, users can expect a response immediately and not when the consultant will get through the horde of other customers.
In terms of cost-effectiveness, it is extremely beneficial for the business. Chatbots operation takes the pressure off the personnel and allows being focused on important things.
However, it doesn’t come as easy. In order to make an effective chatbot, you need to perform extensive research. Not only you need refine a verbal skill of the bot but also you need to fill it with every possible scenario in every conceivable variation. It is also important to implement a seamless transition from chatbots to the human responder in certain cases.
If not, a chatbot will do more harm than good and eventually will scare the customers elsewhere. However, if done right, chatbots are making magic.
2. Omnichannel presence
Consumer experience is a multi-layered thing. It spans through digital and physical realms and it is critical to take advantage of every channel to the maximum extent. Seamless access to goods and services is something every business wants.
Chatbots cover the digital part without excessive overspending and with the pleasant user experience. However, it is easier said than done.
As it was already stated before, it takes a lot of user cases in order to make it tick-tick-tick. Such things as interactive voice responses, mobile apps, social media outlets, in-site chats, and e-mail subscription can benefit from bot automation with a wide variety of responses written in it.
This augments user experience and adds consistency to the mix. In turn, it increases overall consumer engagement.
3. Improved Customer Experience
Engaging customer experience is a must for any respectable eCommerce service. No two ways about it. Otherwise, why even bother? If you can’t make your customer come back to your service and spend more, chances are he’s doing it elsewhere without a second thought.
While chatbots are not the ultimate solution for well-mannered customer experience, it is definitely a viable option that substantially upgrades the whole thing.
Let’s take the simplest thing — customer can’t decide what kind of product he wants to buy. Chatbot can help with a set of predetermined stats and little user input combined with a simple comparison of prices, characteristics or other information; a bot can suggest something as close as possible to what the customer wants.
4. Reducing Operation Costs
It is a well-known fact — expertise costs money. Back in the day, experts were drained dry and often wasted on mind-numbing repetitive bouts of answering to frequently asked questions again and again and again.
Not only it was inescapable and counterproductive in terms of human resources — it was extremely cost-ineffective. Even more so, such jobs weren’t exactly prestigious. However, with the ascension of chatbots things have changed.
A couple of algorithms and library of responses make an army of zombie-like consultants obsolete. Chatbots can handle more requests, and they can do it with the same quality all the time. That thing makes them instantly a cost-effective solution.
It doesn’t mean that consultants are completely gone, but their services are used more sparingly in particular cases beyond chatbots competence.
5. Lead Generation
Leads are bread and butter of any business. That is what you need all the time. Chatbots can help get some sweat-sweat leads.
The trick is on the bots but on the switching from the bots to actual humans who perform the heavy lifting. Here’s how it goes:
- Chatbots interact with the customer;
- Conversation provides an insight into consumers preferences;
- It can result in buying a certain product on its own or,
- It can lead to the switch where the human consultant will perform the corbomite maneuver upon customer and make an offer one can’t refuse.
On the other hand — collected data can be used elsewhere — in the advertising campaign or simply in service subscriptions.
6. Automation of Repetitive Tasks
Repetitive tasks are the backbone of any business operation. It is something you have to deal with whether you like it or not. If not, everything falls apart and you go out of business reenacting Picard’s facepalm. Consistency of presence is something you want to have maintained no matter what. Hopefully, chatbots can help.
Think about such overly mundane things as:
- maintaining template conversation with consumers;
- recommending products;
- consulting on general subjects;
- doing stats-based round ups;
- reminding about something half-done or considered;
- making suggestions to do something.
All aforementioned can be easily relegated to bots. With a little help of predetermined scenarios — you can keep your personnel for more effective and engaging things.
Not only this is cost-effective — it also boosts overall morale of the collective.
7. Consumer Analysis and Personalization
While chatbots are extremely effective in dealing with general demands of the customers, they are also valuable source of information for your business operation.
It is all very simple — every response customer leaves contains some kind of information. Certain aspects of speech, time of response, errs and typos, preferences — everything can be mined for information.
Combined it builds a portrait of the consumer with an assorted collection of patterns. This gives a bot flexibility and widens its arsenal of reactions.
Coupled with cookies information and other ad tech assisted collected data, it helps to construct a certain information bubble around the customer and show him everything he might need according to the collected data.
In return, it can help you to refine and adjust the chatbots and eventually make the user experience even more effective.
Another benefit of collecting information is adjusting your service to the customer. Personalization is very effective in terms of building and solidifying the bond between users and the service. It is what makes them come back for more.
8. Gathering Customer Feedback
There is nothing more gratifying than customer feedback. While it seems to be a low-hanging fruit, it is actually a rather hard thing to collect in any sort of cohesive way.
The problem is well-known: people tend to talk trash or gibberish instead of providing real suggestions. But since it all can be automated, the results can be filtered automatically and you will only get the cream of the crop.
The upside of this is that you actually get an insight into user perception of your service and its problems and improve upon it. The downside is that it takes a lot of chatbots adjust to make him filter it right.
Chatbots are here to stay and it is evident that they will further improve their verbal skills which will make them even more effective at their job. However, it will also boost the competition in the market. That in turn will open even more opportunities for new solutions.
Author: Kim Hailey is a freelance mobile app designer and UX consultant residing in New York. She works with individuals and private businesses and helps them find effective solutions that work for them. Apart from that, she has a flair for writing as a blogger and teaching schoolchildren to code. Find her on LinkedIn.