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Chatbots have been around for a very long time but only recently have mainstream businesses started implementing them. We are already familiar with famous chatbots such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana and OK Google but this technology is now accessible for everyday e-commerce businesses. In a survey done by Oracle 48% of users said they were already using automation and 40% said they intended to invest this automation by 2020. Not only that, but another survey also found that 48% of customers would choose to use live chat over any other form of communication. These and many other studies and surveys indicate that chat bots are here to stay and as technology gets better, they are going be a large part of a customers' experience. However, a poorly programmed chatbot can also frustrate your customers so it is important to ensure that your chatbot is intuitive enough to resolve customer issues and be able to direct the inquiry to human help if requested or need be.
What are chatbots?
Drift coined the term conversational marketing for chatbots and I think that describes them the best. It really is getting to know your customer better and communicating with them one on one to help close sales and improve your services.
They use AI (artificial intelligence) concepts such as natural language processing, machine learning and deep learning to intelligently address customer inquiries.
Natural language processing helps computer understand and utilize human language. This helps communication between human and a computer more inherent rather than robotic.
Machine learning uses statistical data to make decisions. We see this in chatbots that make recommendations based on your previous choices.
Deep learning is a subset of machine learning and is focused on helping machines think and make decisions the way humans do. These chatbots can be implemented using social media platforms, messenger apps and also directly on your own website.
How are they used in E-commerce?
E-commerce is a competitive field andthere is no question about that. The large companies have the financial edge over the little guys by being able to dedicate resources towards customer service and data tools to dig deep into the customer's mindset. However internet land has helped level out the playing field somewhat and chatbots are one of ways where even a small business can compete with the big guys. Here are some ways that chat bots can be beneficial in your e-commerce business.
- Answer questions
- This saves resources and time that you would otherwise have to dedicate by either hiring a customer service agent or doing it yourself.
- Find products
- You get a chance to get to know your customer and make product suggestions. This data is very valuable as it helps you breakdown exactly what your ideal customer is looking for. You can then stock more of the product that your customer wants.
- Place orders
- Chatbots can take orders without the customer having to manually go to your website or app to place it. The shorter the time between research and purchase decision, the more likely a customer will end up buying from you.
- Offer incentives
- You can share sales with your customers. Not only that, if your bot comes across a resistant customer, it can dig into its data and give offers that have previously resulted in a similar customer changing their mind.
- Save money
- This is a two fold benefit. One you save money by offering efficient customer service without having to hire someone to handle it. Two it is expensive to acquire new customers, therefore it is crucial that you try your best to retain the ones you already have. Chatbots can offer a personalized service so that your current customers are well taken care of and choose to stay with your brand.
- Assist customers right away
- The faster you make contact and resolve issues with your customers, the better chance you have of having happy customers who stay with you. If you have customers on the other side of the world, they don't have to wait until it is morning for you to get help.
The examples above were taken from chatbotsguide.org. If you are interested in seeing more valuable ways that chatbots are being used by companies then you can download casebooks in various industries. It is run by chatdesk, one of the many companies that offer chatbot services. I will discuss the chatbot offerings available in another article.