Email and phone are slowly falling away as the primary methods of communications between businesses and their customers. While email may live on forever, chat is fast becoming the go-to tool for urgent messages, customer services and other inquiries, making chatbots a key tool for any business.
Email has been around for so long, it is easy to forget how inefficient it is. People might struggle to find the right contact email address in the first place. The recipient can choose to ignore the email, might set responding to it as a lower priority or the email inbox might not be monitored all the time. And that’s ignoring typos in the address, spam filters gobbling them up or other problems, like is “Dear xxx,” or is “Hi there” appropriate?
While there’s always the phone, increasingly people don’t like to bother another person with non-urgent queries. All of which paves the way for chat, be it in Facebook Messenger, Twitter Messages, Skype chats or other platforms, to act as the rising stars in business and marketing communications.
Chats And Chatting Back
Increasingly, certainly among younger generations, people are more than happy to engage on social media chat to ask a question. Especially when it comes to product information or availability, making an appointment or registering interest in something new or upcoming.
For the business, their social media teams are ready to react to these queries, to engage with a live person, rather than posting into the void. Talking live gives them the chance to judge the success of an engagement, the impressions about a brand or product and to answer specific questions that might not be in an original post.
By being able to talk directly to a company, people will feel happier to use that business and its services or products. While chat might not feel natural for many traditional marketers, it is how huge numbers of people now communicate and is a part of their typical day.
The Bot Has Got Your Back
Of course, not every business has staff with the time to monitor online chat all day. That’s where chatbots can come into play, offering the benefit of a 24/7 agent able to handle the basic, or increasingly advanced, queries that customers may have.
The bot can work multilingually and also be used on a company website in an app or other social media to act as a singular point of contact. It comes as no surprise that some businesses are limiting or ending their email/phone contact for certain tasks to let the bot take the strain and to free workers up for more engaging tasks.
Whatever the business use case, from customer support to helping explain about a new product, chatbots can help with a script-based approach that provides a limited set of information, or an AI-based natural language processing (NLP) approach that works out what the user is asking and provides an appropriate response.
Advanced chatbots can use images, video and emoji to liven up a conversation and provide information that is more expressed visually. All of which helps the conversation along and converts interested users into customers better than a generic email mailing or another type of contact.
As people do more of their shopping by checking apps and social media, the more likely they are to use chat or a chatbot to resolve a quick query, all of which helps make the bot more of a go-to option. That groundswell will soon see email and the phone relegated down the list of contact points, especially as bots appear more widely and are used by almost all businesses.
Chats Collaborate Within The Business
While chat and chatbots are primarily a way to engage with customers, a growing number of businesses also use them for internal purposes. Why call or send an email when workers can engage with a chatbot to instantly book some holiday or query an invoice?
The rise of intranet or collaboration chatbots will help small businesses work together on projects with fewer steps in the communication process. Whichever round they work, these businesses see the benefit from customer chatbots that can benefit their internal processes or internal bots that can see working well for their customers.
Between them, they provide the drive and investment for the next generation of bots that will provide even more information, better service and value. So, if your business isn’t using a bot now, it could soon be losing out to competitors who most certainly will.
The likes of Microsoft Office or Teams, Google Hangouts and others will help drive this trend and push bots into more offices, while companies will find new and innovative uses as they get to grips with the ideas behind bots, making them indispensable for the future of work. From team chat apps to full-blown chatbot services like SnatchBot, there are plenty of ways for the business to use chat as a productivity driver and time saver.