Chatbots are the big trend in customer service today and many experts predict that they’ll completely alter the way that people and brands interact going forward. Chatbots can not only ease the burden on customer service agents but they can in eliminate the need for costly mobile apps that many smaller businesses can’t afford. But before you invest time and money in developing and deploying a chatbot for your small business, here are three things you need to know first.
Who is your audience?
Your chatbot can’t interact effectively with your customer base if it doesn’t understand who they are and what makes them tick. And the only way your chatbot can be programmed to know your audience is if you already know them and make the effort to program your bot with that same knowledge. Some obvious places to start is with obvious demographics. Are they primarily male or female or an even mix? Are they younger or older or does their age vary widely? Do they come from wealthier or poorer backgrounds? Do they lean conservative or liberal? Chances are your customers will usually divide along these lines. Another thing to consider about your customer base is where they usually turn for customer service help. To they go to your website, call a customer service line or do they turn to social media for help?
What is your goal and how can you achieve it?
You need to have well-defined goals for your chatbot or it will be a complete failure. A surprising number of companies are just programming chatbots just to do it because everyone else is. To improve the customer service experience is a given but how specifically do you want to improve it? Are you trying to reduce wait times? If so, how can your chatbot help you accomplish that? Also recognize that your chatbot won’t be an overnight success. Chatbots learn by making mistakes. You will almost certainly need to go in and make adjustments to make it more effective and achieving the goals you’ve set for your bot.
How will you get customers to use it?
No matter how much time and effort you put into creating a useful chatbot, it will all be a waste if your customers don’t know about it or don’t wish to use it. Revisit the question of audience and where they turn to for customer assistance. If you have a customer service line they usually call, maybe you can provide instructions for reaching out to your chatbot in the automated phone answering system you use so customers waiting for a live agent might hang up and go to your chatbot. If they go to your website, you might have your chatbot initiate a conversation when it seems your customers are stuck on a webpage. You can use existing marketing channels whether that’s email, SMS, or something else to tell your frequent customers about your newest customer service agent. Give it a catchy name that people will remember and be excited about.