Imagine a customer service experience where the business representative is always available, friendly and equipped to handle any inquiry you send their way. While this might seem too good to be true, today it’s a reality for many businesses.
Chatbots are an artificial intelligence-powered technology designed to engage in conversation with human users over the internet. They have quickly taken over customer service functions for a growing number of businesses. In fact, analysts from Gartner predict that by 2020, 85 percent of all customer interactions will be handled without a human. Chatbots are used for a number of different functions in today’s consumer experiences– they can act as your personal shopper, update your bank account, serve as your hotel concierge, and can even send notifications about your pizza delivery.
Whether your business is B2B or B2C, there are many ways in which chatbots can improve your total customer experience. From answering customer questions, to recommending products, to improving efficiencies in the sales funnel, chatbots are a growing tech trend that will soon become a staple in business operations.
The B2C Experience
Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and mobile search features, today’s consumers are accustomed to immediate answers and instantaneous access to the web. That means your sales and service processes should interact with customers in the same way. However, while consumer research reports estimate that your customers are willing to wait up to 4 hours for a response to their online inquiry, almost 90 percent of these inquiries go unanswered by brands. Lack of response can inevitably become detrimental to sales conversions, revenue, and brand sustainability.
This is where chatbots can have a proactive impact on the B2C experience. They can step in as a virtual assistant, guiding customers through your sales process. When you’re unable to answer customer questions on behalf of your site, during nighttime hours for example, chatbots can provide an instantaneous response that is often more timely, efficient, and accurate than the response of a human customer service representative.
One of the most recent brands to adapt the technology into their customer experience is TD Bank, who announced their chatbot, TD Clari, in January. The bank’s chief digital and payments officer stated that, “Customer expectations are constantly evolving, and we believe AI is key to creating exceptional, personalized experiences and adding real value to our customers across our digital properties.” Integrated with TD Bank’s mobile app, Clari offers deeper insights into a customer’s financial decisions, using AI to provide spending insights, information on TD credit cards, help with everyday transactions and also answers commonly asked customer service questions.
The B2B Experience
For B2B organizations, the benefit of chatbots lies in their ability to improve sales efficiency. In B2B operations, it can be difficult to envision a sales process where chatbots are the sole point of contact when engaging in sales discussions. A skilled sales professional is able to garner trust, be persuasive, and ultimately, utilize their communication skills to lead prospects through the sales funnel. However, a chatbot can act as a supplementary tool that actually allows your sales team to become more efficient. As Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president representing Oracle applications in a recent news article attests, “We’ve invested a lot in chatbot technology… and a lot of things that help optimize the automation in a rep’s experience working with sales planning tools.”
In a B2B sales scenario, chatbots can automate parts of the sales process to improve productivity levels by enabling sales teams to grow leads, reduce administrative tasks, and shorten sales cycles. In fact, research from the McKinsey Global Instituteindicated that up to 40 percent of time spent on sales work activities can now be automated, thanks to AI-powered technologies like chatbots. As a result, sales professionals can spend more time engaging directly with leads instead of dealing with the behind-the-scenes work of acquiring, organizing and analyzing data.
According to a 2016 study from AYTM Market Research,89 percent of users prefer information discovery through bots to information discovery via websites. By equipping landing pages with chatbots, companies can instantly capture leads from potential customers. This is what Automabots is hoping to achieve in the real estate sector. Their tool guides buyers through the home search process with conversational language, while allowing real estate agents to convert more customer inquiries to appointments, reduce their daily workload, and spend more time focusing on customer service.
If your business has yet to invest in chatbots, now is the time. More and more companies are beginning to use chatbots to assist their customers in user-friendly ways, promising a great impact on the customer experience. However, there is also plenty for decision makers to look forward to. They offer great potential to benefit your business not only now but will become essential in the future.