Chatbots, or messenger bots, are pieces of software designed to respond to messages sent on social media, websites and more. Chatbots can follow pre-set conversation trees to answer customer questions. Or, by searching for keywords in messages from users, they can algorithmically present the most relevant potential answer for the situation.
Used correctly, chatbots are a powerful way to improve your customer engagement and service strategy. On social media, SMS and other channels, a messenger bot gives you another way to connect with your audience and maintain a consistent conversation. In 2017, 35% of customers were already saying that they wanted to see more companies using chatbots.
Why do people use chatbots?
Companies and customers use messenger bots for a range of reasons.
According to the “State of Chatbots” report from Drift, the most common goal is to get a quick response in an emergency. The same study revealed that 64% of respondents felt the biggest benefit of chatbots was the ability to access 24/7 service.
Ultimately, today’s consumers demand better service from brands and companies. With chatbots, it’s possible to streamline conversations by connecting with your audience at a time and in a place that suits them. For instance, your client doesn’t have to wait until they catch you on the phone to ask a routine question. They can access the answers they need through a social media chatbot instead.
The benefits of using a messenger bot
An increasing number of companies are experimenting with chatbots to support their marketing strategy.
Recently, electric utility company Southern California Edison improved their customer service for over 15 million people by using the Sprout Social bot builder tool to create a messenger bot. The result was exceptional customer experience and happier customers. Now 1 in 6 of the organization’s issues is solved via a chatbot.
With chatbots, businesses:
- Create better customer experiences by allowing audiences to connect through the channel that suits them, (i.e., social media or SMS)
- Provide 24/7 support when your audience needs you most.
- Remove some of the stress from your employees by getting bots to deal with repetitive questions.
- Create a more seamless cross-channel experience.
How to get started with chatbots
Getting started with chatbots is daunting at first. Fortunately, there are many solutions like the Sprout Social bot builder to help. Before you get started, make sure that you:
- Define your use case and goals: Decide what you want to accomplish with a messenger bot. For instance, do you need to resolve more customer issues, promote products, or generate additional leads?
- Decide which platforms you’re going to use: You might use Instagram DMs, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, your website or Twitter DMs.
- Map customer journeys: Figure out what kind of moments guide your customers towards a purchase. Once you know your audience, start to build out your content strategy accordingly
- Give your bot a personality: Remember that customers don’t expect your messenger bot to sound exactly like a human, but it should have a character that resonates with your brand.
Overcoming chatbot limitations
Chatbots are useful tools in your marketing and customer service strategies, but they don’t replace humans. These resources are designed to automate basic tasks, so your team can focus on more creative tasks. However, they’re not set-it-and-forget-it tools. You’ll need to regularly work on your chatbot copy and track the success of each platform to optimize your outcomes.
Remember that you’ll also still need to invest in human service too. Human beings tackle problems that your messenger bot can scarcely understand. The best chatbot strategies combine the convenience of the bot, with the intuition of the human.