I’m super excited to introduce Chris Bain from Chatbot Labs. The more I hear about the power of chatbots the more I’m intrigued by the sheer intelligence of them.
How Chris’ company came about
Chris’ story resonates with a lot of other people who, like him, found themselves feeling like they were stuck in a rut. About 5 years ago he felt compelled to search for a new direction. Around this time, chatbot technology raised its very clever head and got Chris’ attention. He has always loved the idea of automating those tasks that quite frankly waste our time. Time which we could be spending doing something more enjoyable or valuable in our business.
Staggeringly, Chris checked his Password Manager a few years ago and identified that he had 255 logins for different systems and knew that this couldn’t really be efficient. Based on this he did some exploring and tested the use of a chatbot; he connected it to a CRM system, then connected the chatbot to Office 365 and recognised that the more he connected it to different things the more powerful it got. This spark was the start of Chatbot Labs.
What is a chatbot?
Chatbots make our lives easier. They are quite literally chatty robots and can be tasked with a number of jobs freeing up our time.
In a nutshell this is how chatbots work. They can be programmed to do anything that helps you run your business efficiently; they can be taught to answer customer queries, tell you if all your invoices have been paid and answer your queries, things like, ‘how much is it to send a parcel to China?’ for instance. They can take on similar roles to a Virtual Assistant or an extra member of staff without the ongoing costs.
And from just £50 a month, they really could be the investment that helps your business grow.
Imagine the time you could save with a chatbots
Chris said that only when you step back and realise the amount of time you spend doing repetitive actions do you realise the time you waste during the day.
Let’s say you waste 5 minutes, 5 times a day doing things like sending a quick email to answer a customer query or logging on to all the pages or accounts you need to view. This time quickly adds up and over a year you could have potentially wasted 108 hours! That’s no good for you or for your business.
Chatbots and social media
If your business receives queries and messages in more than one space, for example messages through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, then the chatbot can centralise all of these to give the business owner a better view of the business and see what, if anything, needs improving.
Facebook messenger chatbots are really useful as this social media platform does see a lot of interaction between customers and businesses.
Chatbots for customer support
Businesses were already becoming more digitalised and moving online before 2020, but the coronavirus has certainly sped this up, forcing some companies to go 100% online.
In this world, customer support never sleeps. Customers are now able to be active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s no way, you can cover these hours too – unless of course you introduce a chatbot to your business.
Chatbot’s never sleep, don’t ask for lunch breaks or go to the toilet!
How chatbots can help my business
Chatbots have the power to reduce what goes into your inbox. Sounds good doesn’t it? Chat bots will quite literally take care of customer queries leaving you with a much quieter inbox. More time to be getting on with running your business and doing what you do best.
They can help with the ordering process, answering queries and more. It’s up to you, what you need them to do for you. Have a think about the repetitive actions you do that can be automated.
How do chatbots know the answers to the questions they are asked?
As a business owner you know the kind of questions you get asked repeatedly. You can programme these in and top it up as appropriate. The more questions a chatbots gets asked the more it learns how to answer them itself.
Chatbots really are a great tool for question-based problems as they can easily and quickly provide the solution.
What about live chatting with a chatbots?
As you programme a chatbot to answer questions, they can interact and engage with your customers giving them what they want. And if you have global customers you can also programme in translations. Chris recommends that if you have a solid knowledge base, to invest in a proper ‘human’ translator as bots and Google translate don’t always get it right.
If you do decide to invest in a chatbot it’s a good idea to call it something like “Becs Bot” just so your audience knows it’s not an actual person! Transparency and being honest are great values – don’t trick your customers into thinking it’s a person.
Which sectors are best suited to chatbots?
The most obvious answer is retail. The retail industry gets a lot of questions from the public.
And they don’t just stop when they have answered a question, they can divulge in a spot of upselling too. For example, if a customer asks about evening dresses, the bot can also tell the customer about any offers that there may be for accessories to go with the dress.
Restaurants and other food outlets benefit massively from having chatbots to book tables for customers. Instead of having customers phone up or leave a message on Facebook messenger the bot can centralise all of the orders for seamless logistics.
Builders and plumbers too benefit as the bot will take bookings and respond to queries for them. These highly skilled labourers rarely have their hands free to grab the phone, a pen and a piece of paper!
For most businesses chatbots and social media work incredibly well together!
You could combine a chatbot with a winning sales strategy to find out how to create this strategy have a look at my blog here How to sell on Social Media.
What if a chatbot can’t help?
There will be times when the chatbot can’t help and experiences a question they have not been asked before or has the answer to. In this scenario the bot can be programmed to let the customer know that it doesn’t have the answer and has asked for a ‘human’ to get back to them or to say that they have emailed their question to someone who can help.
Even though the customer has not been given the answer, they are usually satisfied that their query is in the process of being answered accurately and happy that time has been spent getting it right.
Chris’ top tip: implement a mechanism that enables you to get back to the customer no matter where you are. So, you may be sat on a train and the chatbot notifies you that a customer needs a response to a query that it couldn’t help with itself. You can then reply straight away. And don’t forget to add this question to the hub!
Does your business warrant a chatbot?
If you waste time answering 6 repetitive queries a day, this could take up to an hour of your time EVERYDAY. Just think how this adds up.
Businesses with global customers will hugely benefit as customer service will continue even while the owners and staff are asleep.
Do you think you could benefit from a chatbot?
What’s coming up?
My next workshop is all about Instagram! The workshop starts on 8th December where I will show you how to get the best out of Instagram to help grow your business. The course runs over four days for just one hour each day. If this sounds ideal for you, head over to Eventbrite to find out more and book your space.
Bye for now,
Becs Bate, Social Media Executive