According to Convince and Convert, almost 40% of consumers have used online chat in the past year, and 30% have used a company's mobile app to interact with it online. They've used chatbots for a variety of reasons—the top three are (1) to get a quick answer in and emergency, (2) to resolve a complaint or problem and (3) to get a detailed answer to a question.
Chatbots and Conversational AI Are on the Rise
The increased popularity of conversational AI and chatbots has been rapid and pervasive—and it will become more so in the next few years among all market segments, and for a variety of reasons. Consider for example these head-turning metrics from Gartner:
• There has been a 160% increase in business interest in chatbots and associated technologies in the past 2 years
• By 2022, more than 70% of white-collar workers will interact with chatbots and other conversational platforms every day
• There are currently more than 2,000 vendors of chatbot and related services on the market—and the list is growing rapidly
• The top 3 uses of these technologies are customer service, user support and knowledge management
• 64% of consumers name 24-hour service as the principal benefit of using conversational AI and chatbots
• 61% of Baby Boomers—and 51% of Millennials—say "getting an instant response" is among the top benefits of using chatbots
More Businesses Are Investing in Chatbots
Although nearly half of American consumers still prefer speaking with a human being, the increased pervasiveness (and popularity) of conversational technologies have pushed IT departments to respond with effective solutions. As Gartner notes for example:
"The proliferation of chatbots in the modern workplace calls for IT leaders to create a conversational platform strategy that ensures an effective solution for employees, customers and key partners…chatbot technology — which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic human conversations — is beginning to mature and offer more sophisticated solutions. This is primarily because of improved, AI-enabled language capabilities…As a result, more organizations are investing in chatbot development and deployment. In the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey, CIOs identified chatbots as the main AI-based application used in their enterprises."
What Are the Main Benefits of Implementing Conversational AI Technology Solutions?
Every business is different and faces different marketing challenges. That said, there are some benefits to the use of online conversational technologies which straddle a wide swath of industries and apply to companies of all sizes, from small businesses to large, enterprise organizations, including the following 5:
1. Better Customer Service
According to one recent consumer survey, 83% of online shoppers report needing some level of support. Some need help for example choosing the right product or service to solve their problems, while others experience problems navigating company websites or using shopping carts. Moreover, the stories of being placed on hold for protracted periods waiting for a customer service agent are legion. Chatbots provide an effective, real-time customer service alternative for many businesses.
But chatbots can do more than simply answer questions. In their more sophisticated applications, they can also direct users (based on their responses) to valuable content—things like product pages, blogs, tutorial videos and images—to further enhance customer service, something human agents are sometimes ill-equipped to do.
Finally, chatbots provide more proactive customer support. At a time when consumers (particularly Millennials) demand more active support intervention, businesses can't afford to be passive. Unlike customer service agents, chatbots can appear and offer support before consumers encounter problems.
2. Enhanced Customer Engagement
Keeping customers and prospective customers actively engaged throughout the buyer's journey is critical to achieving key marketing objectives. For example, according to one recent study, businesses that successfully engage customers on social media sites on average increase customer spend by as much as 40%.
Chat technologies are another way to boost customer engagement. Whereas the conventional approach to customer service provides more information than it receives from customers, chatbots present needed information in small slices and base responses on the information users provide. What this means for businesses is increased customer satisfaction as consumers don't get bogged down or bored with unnecessary or irrelevant information.
3. Deeper Customer Data and More Valuable Marketing Insights
There are many sources of valuable customer data. For example, platforms like Google Analytics provide a wealth of such data about the performance of your website—but chatbots substantially augment these data (and the marketing insights they provide).
The insights you gain from customer responses will enable your business to improve your products and services. They'll also provide key data about the performance of your website. For example, if a landing page isn't generating enough leads, chatbots will let you push visitors to surveys to gather valuable market intelligence about their reasons for abandoning the page.
Finally, you can use chatbots to track consumer behaviors and purchasing patterns. As Forbes notes, this helps businesses decide which products need enhanced marketing—and which they should be marketing more.
4. Enhanced Lead Generation and Nurturing
More than 60% of marketers report that generating a sufficient volume of high-quality leads is their top marketing priority. Although conversational technologies aren't typically viewed as lead generation tools, they can in fact help businesses both generate and nurture leads.
For example, chatbots can push prospects to customized landing pages where you can collect contact information, like an email address for enhanced lead generation. They can also nurture leads by directing them to key web pages, including those with content relevant to a lead's questions and concerns.
5. Cost Savings
Simply stated, chatbots are less expensive than creating a cross platform or increasing the size of your customer service team. Equally important, chat technologies enable businesses to help a virtually unlimited number of customers and prospective customers simultaneously, and with no wait time. In addition, because they're effective in filling the top of your sales funnel and nurturing leads, you'll increase conversions and sales opportunities, both of which add to the bottom line.
Chatbots and related AI solutions can help your business improve customer service, boost engagement, enhance lead generation and nurturing campaigns and cut costs—but integrating them into your marketing strategy can be challenging, and they're not the only way to make your business more productive and profitable.
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