Chatbots are rocking the world of many companies, big or small. From HR to sales, from marketing to customer service; the new tech is making a big splash.
Are you looking for inspiration? Not quite sure how chatbots could help your business (or department) like it has helped so many others?
This article is for you.
I will cover 16 ways companies use chatbots to better their business.
I'll separate them into departments, as this makes the most sense. Use the table of contents below to navigate to the section that matters the most to you. Or, sit back with a nice cup of tea and keep on reading. Actually, yes, do that -- much better!
How companies use chatbots for HR
1. To answer HR-related questions
It's the oldest trick in the book.
Most HR chatbots start as a 'simple' conversational interface for employees to ask HR-related questions. Did you know HR reps spend about 40% of their time answering the same questions over and over?
This is the single best way to give your reps almost half of their time back.
The beauty of this approach is it doesn't require staff to learn a new platform. No new login details to a new portal. No endless browsing through hundreds of articles. They access the bot, they ask their question in plain English, and they get their answer.
2. Employee training
Whether it is starting at a new job, transitioning to a new position, or brushing off a skill; employees learn in the workplace.
Classroom days are long gone. Though some organisations still use them, it is more common nowadays for businesses to implement an internal learning management system (LMS) and let their employees crack on at their own pace.
This means, though, that an interactive training system needs to assist the employee in their learning journey. We found that chatbots that live on LMS platforms help employees achieve their learning goals 30-35% faster.
This is precious time gained.
(Psst, we use this ourselves. Unlike many other solutions we build, this one I get to talk about: https://www.ubisend.com/jobs. Give it a go).
Recruitment is hard, especially in the tech industry. We realised a long time ago that if we were to advertise for the specific role and requirements we need, we wouldn't reach anyone -- or at least not anyone who believes in our values.
Instead, we took the 'large and wide' approach. And we built a chatbot. Of course.
We programmed our recruitment chatbot to simply have a chat with potential candidates. We tell it what we're looking for, and it uses that information to drive the conversation.
It's not rigid. If we tell it we need a machine learning (ML) expert with Azure experience, it won't dismiss someone with ML experience in TensorFlow. It gathers insights and automatically moves the right candidates to the next phase, and so on.
We have since implemented this low touch and revolutionary approach to recruitment to countless large businesses, with great success.
How companies use chatbots for customer service
4. Answering support tickets
What do consumers hate the most? Waiting.
We hate it. We hate it so much that, in 2015, a survey showed 57% of customers had hung up on a customer support call before it got resolved out of frustration (source).
On the flip side, 75% of consumers spend more with a company that has a history of providing great customer service (same source as above).
So, let's make sure we keep these customers nice and happy, right? Customer service chatbots help with that. As a frontline support tool, a customer service chatbot answers the most common questions automatically, at scale, and at speed.
It's no surprise our own research showed 35% of consumers want to see more businesses using chatbots.
Yes, I've gone stats-happy in this section. Sorry! If you want more, grab our 2018 Chatbot Statistics Cheatsheet. It contains all the juicy data and insights you need to know about our industry, packed into a beautiful PDF.
5. Helping a support team
This is one of my favourite ways to implement a customer service chatbot.
Most customer service departments work on a layered approach.
The first layer is the frontline support. They answer the 'easy' question, such as 'how do I reset my password?' or 'what time do you close?'.
The second layer answer is the trickier questions, typically more specific to the user asking them. These can be 'where is my parcel?' or 'when will my dress be ready?'.
The third answers more complex questions that involve many moving parts like supply chains, large-scale shipment, and key accounts.
What's interesting with chatbots is, they can easily take care of the first layer. This moves all humans back one step, bringing them into a role where their intelligence and 'human-ness' is more relevant. Everyone can see that.
What not everyone can see is that chatbots can actually help the two other layers as well. Our favourite way of implementing this is to have the chatbot answer customer questions directly to the support staff, instead of to the customer. This allows the staff member to work quicker when the chatbot is right and bypass it when it's wrong.
Better yet, it allows rapid training of the chatbot. Every time it's right or wrong, the chatbot learns to get better and better.
Learn more about our customer service chatbots.
How companies use chatbots for sales
6. Making sales
Dun dun dunnn...
The first and most obvious way companies use sales chatbots to rock their world is, drum roll please... to make sales! Who would have thunk it?
Chatbots make great sales tools for three reasons:
- They know everything there is to know about the product you sell. They won't forget. They stay updated (if set up right). They just know.
- They're always available. No sleep. No rest. No bathroom breaks. Just selling.
- They're helpful. Instead of leaving your customers to fend for themselves on your overly complex sales pages and ecommerce platform, your chatbot is there; helpful and ready to make the sale.
What could such a beast of a chatbot achieve? Read about iVan, the sales chatbot that closed 500+ sales and gathered 30,000+ warm leads.
7. Upselling at checkout
Some businesses prefer to use chatbots sparingly in their sales cycle. If they are so inclined, one of the best ways to do so is to implement a check-out up-sale chatbot.
The idea is simple. The customer throws a few items in their basket. She heads to the checkout page. The chatbot pops up and recommends a few more.
Like we've seen in the previous section, the beauty of using a chatbot is it knows everything there is to know about your products. This means, at the checkout stage, it's not trying to upsell any random products. It knows what you are buying and has been trained to know what other products complement that purchase.
This is the smart way to upsell, at scale.
This works particularly well with ecommerce platform, such as Shopify.
8. Post-sale surveys
Finally, there is a newcomer.
I like this one a lot. It pops up after a sale has been completed and asks the user how it all went. This is a fantastic way to merge sales and customer support, and to delight the customer in an instant.
Your post-sale survey chatbot is programmed to ask the customer a few questions about the sale, what got them there, why they decided to buy from you, and anything else you'd like to know about your customer.
It then backs this knowledge up in a database, ready for intricate business insights (see the last section).
I find it to be a fantastic way to dip your toes in chatbot technology. It's low touch, very low risk (the sale has already been made), and it allows the business to get a massive amount of information at scale.
Why a chatbot and not a simple survey form, you ask? Because a chatbot is conversational and inviting. We all pretty much dismiss survey forms, I know I do. Done well, a chatbot will offer a seamless transition from 'done, purchase complete!' to 'hey, what did you think of all this?'.
How companies use chatbots for marketing
9. Content diffusion
Reaching the right audience in a meaningful way is at the core of the marketing function. It's only fitting chatbots now help with that.
What does a chatbot bring to the table? Pull content.
(Almost) gone are the days of push, push, push. Sign up to my email list and get a push of content in your inbox every time I feel like disrupting you. Chatbots offer a way to diffuse content at the reader's pace.
Of course, the best way to go at it is still to do a mix of both. Push content when it makes sense to your business (without being spammy) but allow your users to pull the content when they want it as well.
Did I mention chatbots also live on a variety of platform? If you want, users can get your content on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, website notifications, email, SMS, and more. Incredibly convenient for the reader, and thus, incredibly valuable to the diffuser.
10. Customer nurturing
We've talked about pushing and pulling unique pieces of content. What about nurturing?
Customer nurturing (or lead nurturing, depending on where you sit in the funnel... sorry, flywheel) is all about offering the right content to the right customer at the right moment in their journey.
I've always felt this to be a bit limited with email nurturing campaigns. My beef with it is, it's still pushing content.
'And now read this. Done? Yes, you've moved to the next stage of the funnel! Don't talk, no time, you now have to read this new piece so I can move you further'.
Highly inefficient, and frankly quite insulting to the reader.
With chatbots, you can do much more. You can engage in conversations. You can still push a piece of content (nudging is real). But, once you have, your chatbot is available to talk about it.
'Read this. Done? Any questions? Great point! Functionality Z that we presented in this piece comes from the founders finding out that Y'.
You get the gist. You can actually make sure the customer has understood the piece. You can make sure the customer wants to move to the next stage. Or, you can spot the customer that needs a couple more articles around that specific part of the funnel before moving on.
11. Branding & personas
Who's your favourite brand persona, cartoon or fantasy character? I used to l.o.v.e. Dragon Ball Z. I can't imagine what 10 years old me would have felt, had I been able to chat with Sangoku or Trunks.
Today, brands can offer that experience to all their customers. Sometimes, a chatbot has to be a customer service tool or a sales tool -- something that gets a customer from point A to point B.
But sometimes, a chatbot can be a brand play. Sometimes, a chatbot can bring a persona or a character to life, strengthening the bond between the customer and the brand.
We've done this before with PG tips' Monkey.
We've done this with other brands, and every time it's a big success. Although, there are two traps to avoid when doing this.
- Steer away from a gimmicky approach. Stay true to the character and please, please involve the right people (i.e. not just the techies, the brand people, the designers, the writers).
- Don't try to make the persona do it all. Don't make your fun character come to life also do customer service and sales. Keep it to your One True Goal: branding.
How companies use chatbots for general business
12. Organising calendars and meetings
Hey, you know what's tedious, boring, and feels like it was invented in the 60s? Organising meetings over the interweb.
All these calendars to sync, all these emails back and forth -- might as well have the meeting via email.
Well, chatbots can help with that. Integrated with your favourite calendar app, a chatbot will figure out available time slots across the board and interact with the attendees to double-check before booking.
Just fire up the chatbot, say you want to book a meeting with Jane, Joe, and Jerry and let it do its thing.
13. Internal business intelligence
We live in a world of data. There is no shortage of it. Everyone has access to loads of it. Everyone tracks loads of it. Any small business can get inundated with data accessing their Facebook page's dashboard -- and that's just one of the platform.
There is so much of it, it often becomes a chore to dig through it all to find the information you actually need. In come chatbots.
Thanks to their conversational interface, chatbots make it easy to just ask for the information you are looking for.
'How many UK visitors did we have on the website yesterday?'
Anyone who knows a little bit about Google Analytics can tell you this would take much more time using their actual interface. In fact, Google knows this and that is why they've implemented 'Insights', a chatbot interface that helps you do just that.
Find Google Analytics (GA) business insight chatbot by going to your GA property - Home - Insights.
The fact that the guys at Google Analytics themselves have implemented a chatbot solution to their own platform says a lot about the value of this approach.
Conversational business insights FTW!
Note: this doesn't just apply to website visits or Google Analytics. Connect your business insights chatbot to any platform or tool you use, and make it talk about what really matters to you.
I am 100% convinced this will become the norm within three to five years.
Event chatbots enhance the experience of the attendees. You interact with it to find out about the next talk, to fire off questions to the host, to ask for slides afterwards, and more.
I hate having to install a new app for an event. I hate having to log into a platform or website to get info. There is no reason not to offer me all this information through a conversational application I use every day.
Mark my words: three to five years.
15. Complex forms
I've put this one in general business because, really, it applies to any part of any business. We've applied the logic below to HR, sales, and customer service.
Is there, within your business, a long and complex form users have to fill out? What is the drop-off rate on that bad boy?
What if I told you a chatbot can replace the form and make your completion rate insanely high?
We've done this time and time again. Recently, a client in the financial sector increased their loan completion rate from 5.56% to 21.1%. I can't tell you how much that equates in revenue, but safe to say it is... a lot.
Chatbots often get a bad rap for being 'glorified forms'. It is obvious none of us at ubisend think of that, or at least not about the solutions we create. Even in this instance, where we are literally turning a form into a conversation, it is so much more.
Why do complex-forms-turned-chatbots perform so much better? Because they offer a more human way to jump through all the hoops.
The user gets to ask questions every step of the way, making sure they are comfortable moving to the next step.
Confusion is what leads to drop off. Conversations remove confusion, skyrocketing the conversion rates.
Innovation is a non-negligible aspect of implementing a chatbot solution. We are still in a phase, right now, when a business adding a chatbot is considered innovative. In fact, 43% of UK consumers think so -- we asked.
The hard truth is this won't last. It will soon become the norm, like having a website or a Twitter account. The entrepreneurs of tomorrow will register their business, design a logo, and set up their chatbot.
There is still time. For the next couple of years, your business can be one of the first (if not the first) in your industry to release a chatbot.
That is one of the ways businesses today use chatbots to rock their world. The sheer innovation aspect is worth the shoutout, the PR, the excitement -- and the extra revenue from the exposure.
There is a little bit for everyone out there. Whether you are the CEO, an HR rep, a designer, or anything between; chatbots can bring value to your business.
What will your chatbot do?