The chatbot market is growing at an exponential rate. As we approach a digitalised future of commerce, a combination of rising consumer demand and the evolution of smart technology has opened up doors for SME business leaders.
As a primarily online service aid for 25% of global businesses, chatbots have become a digital hit among companies and consumers. With the ability to streamline online communication and personalise customer service, they have become essential in the race to generate more leads.
On the back of experts predicting that the chatbot market alone could be worth up to £1.25 billion by 2025, it’s time to jump on the AI train.
From productivity to personalisation, here are 4 reasons why chatbots could be the answer your SME has been looking for.
1. Improving productivity and efficiency
Businesses are dealing with more online customers than ever before. In a post-pandemic world, the ecommerce industry has boomed, growing by a third in just three years.
In response, small businesses must be prepared to handle new levels of consumer demand. This includes speedy service, personalised experiences and efficient organisation.
Chatbots have become a key player in ensuring an online business runs smoothly. Taking the pressure of smaller sales teams, AI-driven chatbots can automate customer service communication and quickly complete routine tasks that take up employee time and effort.
“The automation that comes with chatbots frees our human talent to focus on less monotonous and routine challenges within the business,” says Wajid Mirza, CEO of digital agency Authur Lawrence. “With the maturity of the chatbot application, our repository of customer queries also becomes richer and more varied. Customers also report great satisfaction, as queuing schedules have decreased, and the element of self-service with chatbots keeps engagement high.”
Whether you employ your chatbot to address consumer questions or even remarket personalised product suggestions to shoppers who leave their cart at the checkout, chatbots provide more time for employees to focus on higher-level lead generation.
Take the FAQ-programmed chatbot, for example. Programming a chatbot with smart FAQ answers that can steer a consumer towards the next stage of their buying journey has significantly improved efficiency in the sales department.
Popping up on a customer’s screen as they enter certain service and product pages, an automated chatbot lists frequently asked questions that consumers can choose from to gain further insight into their purchase.
(Image Source: 13 Chats)
This leaves phone lines and email inboxes free for higher-level, personalised requests that physical employees can see at a quicker rate.
Better still, chatbots can also improve future campaign prediction and productivity. By collecting the data during each consumer interaction, they can easily highlight question trends, aid demographic profiling and help marketing executives plan personalised campaigns.
2. 24/7 availability
Did you know that 90% of modern-day consumers prioritise ‘a quick resolution of their questions’ as a top priority when shopping in an online store?
In a densely populated e-commerce environment, it’s simply impossible to answer every consumer question individually. Unlike a high street store, online businesses are open 24/7 and often to a global audience. Therefore, no matter the time of day, or the location of the consumer, e-commerce sites must be fully functioning at all times.
Chatbots are experts at providing round-the-clock availability. Enabling customers from all over the world to receive support 24 hours a day is key to improving consumer satisfaction and opening your small business up to global conversion potential.
Backed with AI-powered natural language processing, chatbots can address a myriad of questions or concerns in a conversational tone and seamlessly guide a potential lead to the checkout, even if it’s 3 am.
“The most effective use of chatbots is in their ability to answer frequently asked questions in a faster, more targeted way,” claims Peter Schravemade, director at REACH ASEA. “After the auditing of our customer service and the identification of regular lines of questioning, we automated the responses to roughly 80% of our customer service inquiries. Importantly, the speed of answer delivery was under half the time of human interaction.”
Conversational chatbots are also experts at completing tasks for SME employees outside of hours. For example, employees at SoBo Stylist use a Facebook-generated chatbot to enhance their booking system during hours of physical closure.
(Image Source: WordStream)
If a customer wants to book a salon appointment and is not able to reach a representative over the phone, they can simply message the salon’s online chatbot and book an appointment with ease.
Not only does this take pressure off of the phone line, but an efficient chatbot system will automatically schedule appointments, leaving no room for human error.
3. Saving SMEs money
Addressing new levels of customer demand will be a top priority for SMEs in 2023. With this new challenge comes the need for new staff members, an updated online store website and creative campaigning.
In order to stay ahead of competitors, SMEs spend on average up to £1 million a year on labour costs, marketing efforts and onboarding in an attempt to streamline their customer service and boost conversions.
Chatbots, however, could change the game when it comes to helping business leaders adapt to new demands. A study by Juniper Research found that chatbots alone could help SMEs save up to $8 billion per year in 2023.
With the ability to perform repetitive tasks and answer customer questions, they reduce the need for new onboards, while the data collected by the AI system can be fed into effective campaigns that drive more conversions.
“Chatbots offer small businesses an opportunity to scale their operations without incurring additional labour costs, allowing them to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively,” says Marsha Collier, author of The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide.
Introducing chatbots can significantly reduce business expenditure in a number of departments. From training to marketing to HR, they are profit-gearing machines.
4. Personalised Customer Experience
Last but not least, chatbots can help personalise the customer experience. Taking consumer engagement to the next level, they can ensure that a browser’s experience is more interactive.
Using conversational AI, chatbots can not only mimic human conversation but also personalise that interaction according to the consumer.
Leveraging data about each consumer, chatbots can offer targeted discounts and promotions as well as customised feedback forms and questionnaires that can be used to inform future product lines and campaigns.
Take Sephora, for example. Their personal cosmetics shopping assistant offers each user a short, automated quiz that aims to ensure each browser has a positive, personalised experience.
(Image Source: Forbes)
Using the messenger app Kik, They send each user a set of make-up-related questions that can help a potential lead pick out their perfect shade of foundation or a mascara style that is ideal for their needs.
“Kik has 275 million users, who spend upwards of half an hour per session in the app. Its core market is Generation Z, or younger millennials, who do indeed feel at home with such chat interactions,” claims Forbes author Rachel Arthur. “Sephora’s aim is then to convert them into paying customers too.”
As we step into an automated SME arena, chatbots will play a key role in business success. Engaging in conversations with each consumer is the quickest way to grab their attention and make them feel special. Finding new ways to connect with your potential leads is essential. The businesses that are closest to their consumers will be victorious in a flurry of online competition.