Have you given chatbots a go yet? We’ve recently dipped our toe in to assist with our social media management, and they’re pretty useful little creatures.
After attending the inbound marketing conference in Boston last year, I learnt a little about chatbots and got very excited. We’ve recently been trialing this technology on the Six & Flow Facebook page and it is proving particularly convenient for general queries, directing traffic back to our website and generating leads.
If you’ve got this far and are wondering exactly what a chatbot is, sorry, I’ll tell you now; a chatbot is essentially a computer program designed to have a conversation with a human, over the internet. If that sounds a little creepy to you, don’t worry – you aren’t going to get catfished by a robot. Well, you might, but you’d have to be pretty stupid.
Why we need chatbots for social media management
Chatbots are used by companies to assist their current social media strategy, not replace it. With the world becoming increasingly based online, people expect to be able to have contact with businesses 24/7. For a lot of companies, especially startups, this isn’t feasible…enter the chatbot.
In terms of social media management, the chatbot is pretty quick off the mark. When you want to compliment or complain to a company, where is the first place you go? I don’t know about you, but my first destination is always social media. Because social media is in the public eye, I expect a prompt response from the company.
If you use a chatbot, the consumer will have an instant response to their query/grumble, lightening your workload and keeping the customer happy.
Keep Sandra happy with a chatbot for objection handling
Who IS Sandra? We’ve all met a Sandra. She’s the kind of person who comes to the till with an expired voucher and demands to see your manager. We’re not being gender-specific here either, there’s a lot of Samuels out there who do it too. However, chatbots can help to meet even the highest customer expectations.
Ever heard the phrase “the customer's always right” - of course you have. And as much as you’d probably like to say “no Sandra, you’re flipping not right,” unfortunately you can’t do that without damaging your brand's reputation. Chatbots can handle a lot of your objections for you though, which is especially useful for industries that might experience a lot of fight back.
Chatbots weren’t solely built for dealing with questions and comments either. They can also be used to push out offers and promotions. Some food companies have even integrated chatbots to take orders, potentially a bit dangerous if you’ve had one too many glasses of wine and you're craving a Maccies…
AI or rule based: which chatbot is best?
Like I mentioned above, for most people, their first port of call for a complaint is social media. Why? It’s easy to use, easy to find a company to target, and it's accessible on multiple devices from most of the corners of the world. If you’re just learning about chatbots now, I’m going to add in a layer of complication (sorry!)
There are two types of chatbot:
The rule-based chatbot requires exact command input and only understands a pre-defined set of options. Basically, if it’s programmed with the answer to the question “what are your latest blogs?” and someone asks it “what’s your latest blog” the bot won’t understand, unless you give it a selection of question-answers to work with. Rule-based chatbots also won’t understand regional or social dialect as well as an AI chatbot would.
The artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot is built using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), which means it can provide a more natural interaction between human and computer through learned intelligence.
If you want to build a chatbot that runs smoothly, we’d suggest AI all day - but this is a much bigger job.
Mapping out the response
Before we launched the Six & Flow chatbot on Facebook, we sat down and mapped out what kind of questions we expected to be asked.
These fell under the following categories:
- General information gathering – what’s your address, what time do you open/close, what’s your phone number?
- Blog content – what’s your latest blog? Do you have any blogs on inbound marketing for recruitment?
- Job listings – do you have any jobs at Six & Flow?
For things to run smoothly, it goes without saying that you’ll have to plan ahead. And as we mentioned previously, for things to run even more smoothly, we would recommend AI.
A chatbot can support your email marketing efforts
You can even automate messages to go out to your page followers with new blog content or business news. The open rate of chatbot messages vs email is pretty goo. If you spend hours tailoring content for email to get a pretty flat open rate, it’s worth spending some of that time thinking about messaging apps too.
Email data is very important to marketers. You can segment recipients based on their interests, calculated by which emails they interact with most, and deliver personalised messages and content based on their interests.
Chatbots can do the same. Not only do they provide value to customers by providing the information that consumers want/need quickly, but they are also valuable to marketers as they give us another opportunity to capture data on consumer interests.
Does this mean my role will be replaced by a robot?
Nah, probably not. Chatbots exist to support social media management, not replace it. So don’t worry (just) yet.