Chatbots are rapidly growing in popularity. Opus Research predicts that by 2021, 4.5 billion dollars will have been invested in chatbots. Businesses from all industries are turning to this technology to provide better service, optimize their sales processes, and adopt a more conversational approach to marketing.
In this guide, we’ll dig into what chatbots really are and how they can help your business. We’ll look at some key features, the main benefits, and how to start building a chatbot of your own.
Let’s begin by looking at what exactly chatbots are, and how they work.
How Does a Chatbot Work?
In simple terms, a chatbot is a computer program that simulates human interaction. You’ve almost certainly encountered one before, perhaps when speaking to a brand on Facebook Messenger or their website.
Users can communicate with these bots and find answers for many of their queries, which reduces and often eliminates the need for a real customer service team member. This is convenient for the customer and can lead to a massive saving of resources for the company.
Another important role chatbots play is in sales and marketing. Chatbots can act as an automated salesperson, helping guide visitors through the process of choosing what to buy and making a purchase. If necessary, they can also refer customers to human sales staff. This element of chatbots is what we’ll mainly focus on in this guide.
There are different types of chatbots, with varying levels of sophistication. All chatbots have some similar characteristics, though. They’re all trained to recognize common questions and provide useful responses to users.
To get a more complete idea of how chatbots work, it’s important to make a distinction between the different types of chatbots used in conversational sales and marketing.
What are the Different Types of Chatbots for Conversational Marketing and Sales?
When it comes to conversational marketing and sales, we can divide the chatbots used into two main groups: intent-based and flow-based.
Let’s break that down a little.
Intent-based chatbots solve customer’s queries on a one-to-one basis. They collect data from the user with every interaction, and as time goes on they become more intelligent and aware of their user’s needs, adapting their approach accordingly.
This way, they’re able to tailor their answers based on the data they’ve collected in the past, giving accurate and personalized responses to customer questions. Examples of intent-based chatbots include Siri and Google Assistant.
Flow-based chatbots use a series of pre-set questions to communicate with users. This style of chatbot doesn’t recognize manually written answers; you have to use the ones offered.
You might recognize flow-based chatbots from e-commerce sites. They typically ask a series of questions (for example, your gender and what kind of product you’re looking for) with a limited selection of answers. The chatbot will use your answers to help guide you towards finding what you want.
Now let’s break down flow-based chatbots into two further types: lead capture chatbots and hybrid chatbots.
Lead capture chatbots are designed to capture leads by asking them questions and learning what they want. By gathering information on customers this way, lead capture chatbots are able to quickly filter and qualify leads without relying on outdated methods like forms.
These chatbots are able to engage and educate users, and also connect them to a human team member if needed.
Hybrid chatbots are a blend of robot interaction and human interaction. The benefits of this type of chatbot include:
- Can easily connect users to an agent via different channels including phone call, video chat, webchats, and in-app messaging
- Can take care of simple, routine tasks, freeing up time for human agents to deal with more complex issues and communication
- When handing over to a human agent, bots can inform the agents of the previous conversation so the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves
Sometimes, it won’t even be necessary to connect to a human. Bots have access to a rich store of data from thousands of previous interactions, helping them quickly qualify visitors and even create leads for your sales team, all by themselves.
This is known as an unassisted sale, and if the customer is connected to a human agent to complete the interaction this becomes an assisted sale. This option is important because customers like the option to talk to a human — 83% of consumers say the ability to move from one assisted channel to another (like from web chat to a live conversation) is desirable.