This article is not about features or benefits of a chatbot.
This article is not about numbers, stats, and figures surrounding the chatbot industry (although I will use some to support my point here and there).
This article is not about us, how amazing we are, and the cool stuff we have built.
This article is about what it is really like to deploy a chatbot from a business perspective; from your perspective.
Have you been thinking about taking a step towards chatbot adoption but felt it may be too much of an unknown? This article is for you.
All the things I believe you should know about adopting a chatbot strategy for your business await you below. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
What is 'Chatbot Adoption'?
As it will transpire in this article, I strongly believe deploying a chatbot in a mid to large size business is a real shift in strategy.
A chatbot is not just for Christmas, says our CEO. I agree.
Chatbot adoption is everything that surrounds the deployment of the tool.
Think, for instance, of introducing the lean methodology to your business. It's not just about making development lean; it's a shift in the very way your business works. It doesn't happen overnight, but you must be ready for changes in the way sales handle their calls, customer support feedback feature requests, and HR bring in new employees.
Adopting a chatbot strategy for your business will, eventually, influence the entire business. How?
This is what we will talk about below.
What is Chatbot Adoption Really About?
From experience, introducing a chatbot into a business makes an impact in eight different ways.
Let's go through them one by one.
1. All about innovation
Interesting one to put first, right? I know, bear with me.
As the world is slowly waking up to a fast-paced, ever-growing chatbot revolution, many opportunities arise. The main opportunity for most businesses is innovation.
Chatbots bring a new wave of exciting innovation across all industries.
Though I was too young to really experience it fully, I sort of imagine this is how discovering the internet felt like back then. So many opportunities!
'You can build a website and people can visit it from anywhere in the world, 24/7? AND you can sell stuff through it? Omagad'.
Adopting a chatbot strategy in a business is about being an innovator in your field. It's about jumping on that wave right now before everyone catches up. It's about being the first doctor, the first shoemaker, the first SaaS business to introduce a chatbot.
Will it last? Probably not. Is it important? Heck yes.
We recently surveyed 2,000 UK consumers about chatbots. 43% said they perceive a company using a chatbot as 'innovative'.
Innovation drives growth. It drove the internet (which some people called a fad) to what it is today. It drove the social media boom a few years ago. It is driving the chatbot revolution.
2. Streamlining processes
One of the biggest effects of adopting a chatbot strategy? It streamlines processes.
This is a great place to refer back to my original analogy between chatbots and lean methodology.
The lean methodology emerged from the Toyota Production System in the 1990s which proved to make the business a whole lot more profitable by first streamlining industrial manufacturing processes, then expanding to areas like customer support, sales, and more.
Adopting a chatbot strategy to your business will have a similar effect.
First, it will help you improve one specific aspect of your business (i.e. assembly lines at Toyota). Then, little by little, the improvement will spread from department to department. You will find new internal (and customer-facing) applications for your chatbot, until, at some point, your entire business is made a whole lot more efficient.
Why is this important? Because beyond the innovation and what some might call 'gimmicky' aspects, chatbots can genuinely make your business better.
3. Following the customers
Beyond the gloat (innovation) and personal gain (streamlining), introducing a chatbot to your business is about following your customers.
Consumer behaviour is evolving all the time. Today's consumers have different expectations than the consumers you targeted when you first launched your business. But you know that.
What you may not know is consumers now expect businesses to be there, available for them 24/7/365. Consumers want answers right now, not wait for an email from your support team within two business days.
Consumers want more businesses to adopt a chatbot strategy. We know this, because we asked.
Therefore, introducing a chatbot to your business is really about following customer demand. They want instantaneity. They want direct access. They want answers to their questions and they do not care whether it is a human or a robot answering them - as long as they get their answers.
4. Dusting the competition
We all love a little bit of dusting.
We talked about innovation earlier on, focusing mainly on the advantages the status of leader and innovator would do to your business. Let's take another approach and look at the effect it will have on your profitability.
By 2020, 80% of businesses will have implemented some form of chatbot solution (Business Insider).
As of today, this gives you about two and a half years to dust your competition. Did I say two and a half years? Sorry, let me rephrase.
A Forrester study showed over half of businesses are planning to use chatbots over the next 12 months.
You do not have two and a half years.
As we have seen above, your customers are starting to want you to use a chatbot. The time to make a move is now. All your competitors that decide to sit this one out until 2020 will be too late.
5. Taking a risk
Yup. Adopting a chatbot strategy is also about taking a risk.
We all have had a good laugh at the silly fella who said the internet was a fad. Some of us also giggled at Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer predicting the iPhone will fail.
The truth is every technological adoption has risk. Some will decide to stay away from the risk - I believe these businesses will lose in the long run.
Some will decide to take the risk, follow the numbers, embrace the opportunity and jump in - I believe these businesses will thrive.
6. A leap of faith
While on the topic of risks, let's take a moment to consider one of the biggest leaps of faith businesses have to make when adopting a chatbot strategy: picking the right chatbot building company.
Time and time again we write about what makes a great chatbot building company, what defines a skilled chatbot developer, or what differentiates the top chatbot companies from the others.
At the end of the day, regardless of the amount of content we write about it, any business jumping into the chatbot trend now will have to take a leap of faith and pick a partner to help them.
Why is it a leap of faith? Because, right now, the chatbot industry is in its infancy. You will be hard-pressed to find a company with an extensive track record, years of experience, and a large team to support them.
(Here is where I would point you towards us but I promised at the start that this article would not be about how amazing we are).
7. A cross-department investment
Adopting a chatbot strategy is an investment in every aspect of a business. We talked about this early on, I now want to focus on the human aspect.
From experience, we have developed chatbot solutions for big business' call centres that ended up affecting the marketing team. We have built solutions for internal HR queries that ended up affecting social media.
Don't let this scare you. The chatbot solutions did not magically start to influence every other part of the business - it was all planned beforehand!
What I am getting at is, as a business, you need to be prepared and have everyone on board from day one.
Our most successful builds have been for companies that included every top-level executive from the start, even if they were not directly impacted by the chatbot.
Gather everyone around a table, chat about your idea, and get them involved. Trust me. Why? Because...
8. It's about reaping the rewards
Deploying a chatbot, innovating, investing in new technology, testing and iterating a new channel; all of this is about rewards.
No one likes to take a risk without gain. The potential upside for chatbots is huge.
Become an innovator in your field and earn market share, voice share, and bragging rights.
Give your customers want their want and earn their respect, steal them from slow competitors, and make more money.
Dust your competition three years before they even hear of chatbots and grab their customers, step on their territory, and establish yourselves as the leaders.
Involve your entire team and grow together towards the inevtiable machine-powered, on-demand future.