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Should your small business use chatbots for customer service?

By Alexandra Gavril - February 23, 2019

You know what’s the one thing that makes people choose small businesses over big ones?

Great customer service.

When you have fewer customers, you have the ability to interact, get to know and make each and every customer feel special when they do business with you. This gives you a leg up on excellent customer service.

But there’s another thing that customers appreciate, and that’s a speedy response. So how can you do better and provide quick answers and support when you don’t have the time or resources to be online 24/7 for your customers?

This is where chatbots come in.

Chatbots can be a great way to address your customers’ most frequently asked questions and concerns more quickly and efficiently, while freeing up time so you can focus on other aspects of growing your small business.

Lots of big businesses are already using chatbots to increase the efficiency of their operations and provide an improved customer experience. In fact, according to an Oracle survey, 80% of businesses said they currently use or are planning to use chatbots by 2020.

So, should you get on board and use a chatbot too?

In this post we’ll explain what chatbots are and the benefits of using them for customer service.

What are chatbots?

A chatbot is a piece of software that can hold conversations with humans to answer questions, provide information, recommend products and help users on their purchasing journey.

The chances are you’ve used a Facebook Messenger chatbot or a website chatbot to order a pizza, book a dentist appointment or simply to ask a question about a product.

You’re not the only one. More and more customers are using chatbots to get support from businesses. That explains why the number of active bots on Facebook Messenger has grown from 30,000 in April 2016 to 300,000 in May 2018.

It’s because chatbots not only result in improved and speedy customer service but also in increased sales. In fact, according to a Facebook survey, 53% of customers say they’re more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat.

But are chatbots just for big businesses with huge budgets and large customer interaction volumes, or can small businesses benefit from using them too?

Of course they can. In fact, you stand to gain plenty if you decide to use a chatbot to engage with your prospects and customers.

Let’s look at some of the reasons you should be using a chatbot in your small business.

Why your small business needs a chatbot

24/7 availability

As a small business, you probably don’t have the time or resources to be available for your customers 24/7. You may consider hiring additional support agents but your limited budget may not allow it.

Fortunately, a chatbot can run efficiently 24/7 at no additional cost, since you don’t have to hire anyone else to run it.

Speedy support

A key part of good customer service is managing customers’ expectations. And what customers expect is an immediate response to their support request.

Unlike human support agents, chatbots can always answer immediately, day or night. This means that your customers’ important and most asked questions will instantly be answered via the chatbot.

Increased efficiency

While chatbots can’t and shouldn’t be used to answer all your customers’ questions or to handle complex support issues, they can however help with repetitive or similar questions.

For example, you can train a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions like “Where are you located?” or “How much is shipping?”.

This will save you time and will also provide your customers with a quick response without having to search through the FAQ section on your site or wait for an available human agent to get them the answers they need.

Increased customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a key ingredient for the success of any business, big or small. If your customers are happy with not only their purchase but also their experience and interaction with your business, they’re likely to come back. They’re also likely to recommend you to their friends and family, and maybe also write a glowing review on social media.

Start small

If you’re just getting started with chatbots, you don’t need to spend lots of money on a chatbot software or a custom bot. Instead, consider starting with a simple chatbot on Facebook Messenger. Check out our step-by-step tutorial to learn how to create a Facebook Messenger chatbot for your small business.

What else you need to keep in mind when using chatbots

Chatbots are a fantastic way to provide quick support, increase customer satisfaction and boost sales. But only if you use them right because chatbots can also be risky.

There’s a fine line between providing fast, friendly, helpful answers and over automating to the point of frustration. So before you start using chatbots, take a closer look at your customers’ questions and choose the ones that are most frequently asked and could be 100% automated.

In addition, never hide the fact that a bot is on duty. The worst thing you can do is to trick people into thinking they’re speaking with a human, when in fact they’re chatting with an automated bot. Deceiving customers is a sure way to drive them away and damage your reputation.

Another important thing to consider when using chatbots is to always have a backup plan. In other words, if customers need human assistance, make sure they always have the option to talk to a real person. This way, if their issue is complex or if they need human interaction, they know that’s just one click away.

Wrapping up

More and more businesses, big and small, are starting to embrace bot technology to communicate and be there for their customers. That’s because they know that people’s expectations have changed in the sense that they now expect fast, friendly and helpful support, no matter the day of the week or the time of day.

Fortunately, chatbots can make it easier and more affordable to meet your customers’ needs and expectations. So don’t hesitate to try it out and see the impact it has on customer satisfaction and revenue.