Doc, what are bots and how can they help my small business communicate using messaging channels?

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Doctor Digital

Doctor Digital Says:

Bots are big in 2018, and with a couple of major brands looking to significantly grow their bot traffic through their messenger channels (hello Facebook and Whatsapp) there is never a better time to get your head around bots and what they can potentially do for your business.

If you want to get a sense of the volume of Messenger, Facebook recently reported more than 330 million people connected with a small business on that channel for the first time in 2017.  It is a perfect place for you to deploy your own! This is also known as messenger marketing.

A bot (or Chatbot) is fundamentally a computer software program designed to interact with people. It has the capability of simulating seamless conversations with customers. It already exists on channels like Facebook Messenger, Siri, WeChat, Telegram, Slack, Skype and many others, so it’s likely that even if you didn’t know what it was, you have probably already interacted with one. There are basically two types of bots: one that functions based on a set of rules, and a more advanced version that uses machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI).

A bot that functions based on rules can only respond to specific commands while the latter functions using artificial intelligence and can get smarter as it learns from the different conversations it has. This means each time it chats with your customers, it develops a greater capacity to deeply interact on a specialist area (like your brand, sector or inventory) Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be, as bots are here to help, and can actually do a lot of your mundane heavy communications lifting for you while still having a meaningful two-way conversation with your customers.

For small businesses, there are some simple ways to get started on your bot journey. According to a recent study, 67 percent of people expect to use messaging apps to talk to businesses, which makes bots not only relevant to adopt, but already in your customers’ front of mind. Small businesses can take advantage of bots in serving their customers better by providing instant replies and solving their queries quickly.

Bots offer easy access to information about products and services, and can give the ability to purchase them. They can also provide rich content like images and videos. A bot can automate low-value tasks allowing you to focus on those that really add value to the business. One of the key advantages of a bot is that consumers can jump from awareness to action with a few simple messages, creating immense convenience for you and them.

Some businesses lend themselves to using bots more than others. Your business may be ripe for a bot if it falls into the following categories:

1.      A business that receives many similar requests

Sounds like you? If so, a bot can be created to answer those typical questions that your employees or you have to answer repeatedly. These can be providing details on sales, shipping and return policies, sizing, allergies, seating arrangements, opening hours, booking nuances, warranties, and related information.

2.      Low involvement businesses

Some goods and services don’t require much time and effort on the part of the consumer to decide, such as cosmetics, food items, and common household items. Customers typically don’t spend a lot of time comparing the features of these goods. So, you can have a bot that immediately understands what the customer wants and offers suggestions without human interaction.

3.      Personal services and consultancies

This is a big one, and for all of those people whose work supports others: counsellors, business advisors, personal trainers, coaches and mentors. You can set up a bot to push notifications to your customers: imagine a perfectly crafted message of support or motivation arriving in their message apps when you choose. This can also clearly be extended to just letting your customers know you are thinking about them, and engaging with them to keep your brand top of mind.

But where do you start? Well, there are many free bots available - check out ManyChat  which lets you create Facebook Messenger bots to market your brand and gives you the ability to set up some logic steps where the bot can send automatic replies to help serve your customers quickly.

This tool requires no programming and all you need to do is connect your business Facebook page to ManyChat. It also notifies you whenever your attention is needed, making it easy to have a personal conversation from there. There are various other free bots also available like Chatfuel, ChattyPeople and many more.

Bots are on the forefront now, and within a couple of years are going to be completely ubiquitous. Now is the time for you to start thinking about how you might use a bot, and how it will best serve you and your customers. Bots not to love about that?