For those wanting to know just how chatbots are performing, there’s a small but growing amount of data. Helping us make sense of the market is the recent 2018 State of the Chatbot market from Salesforce and friends. But what do the results mean for your business?
Chatbots represent an army on the rise, with new bots appearing on sites around the world daily, from the smallest company to the biggest brands. They are powered by a growing number of service providers and developers, aiming to be “thought leaders” when it comes to making thoughtful bots.
The new report, from the combined might of Drift, SurveyMonkey Audience, Salesforce, and myclever questioned over 1,000 Americans. Among them, 15% had used a chatbot last year, with telephone and email still the top communication methods at 60% each. Hopefully, the 2018 survey will reveal rapid and substantial growth.
As the survey shows (PDF download), users are frustrated with many aspects of the digital experience from navigation issues, companies not answering the questions that people want answered, and even basics like hard to find essential details or information.
More importantly, customers have strong opinions on what they want from their chatbots, advice that businesses should follow to meet their needs, rather than those of some blue-sky strategy meeting. Most of these results are pretty predictable and in the customer service vein, but purchasing is on the rise, suggesting that a strong ecommerce future for chatbots beyond just pizza chains is highly likely.
Those bots should welcome and engage users, find the right information quickly, and take any information. That could be an appointment, cancellation or booking, details needed to advance the conversation, and pass on serious issues to a real person. Retail bots can be more conversational and help promote or sell products if needed based on the customers’ history or likely intention.
If all that works then, then there are still the other 85% of non-chatbot users to convert. With most people still happy to deal with another human, or finding the bot too restrictive or not in the right environment, companies need to ensure their chatbot offers the right type of experience.
So, while a Facebook Messenger bot might be the highest profile and easiest resource for a brand or business to use, if people don’t feel comfortable using that casual medium, then other destinations, website or app are probably better suited.
Among the other stats from the report, people expect instant response from online chat, so if your company offers it, then a chatbot will be needed to prevent out-of-hours disappointment. That’s also pretty essential for businesses that have global reach, while also demonstrating your company is modern and forward thinking.
If you read the report and understand the benefits that a chatbot can bring to your business, then your remaining question is how to go about acquiring one. There are several providers from big names like IBM and Salesforce (which is likely why they commissioned the survey) and plenty of startups focused purely on bots for business.
The best option for many companies will be the likes of SnatchBot and similar services, with cloud-based bots that take little time to build, offering analytics and advanced features like natural language processing to help make an efficient bot that will meet the needs of the business and be attractive to customers.
While a chatbot for now might be relatively simple, compare them to the first smartphones 10 years ago. Then consider how fast an all-software solution will be to evolve and update to address important business needs. Which is why taking advantage of a chatbot now will put your business in good stead for the future, when they can handle far more complex queries and issues, and save or make serious money.