Business

A Guide to Chatbots for Small Businesses

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Every small business owner understands the struggle of being spread too thin. In a small business, there are just too many tasks and too little people to do them.

Fortunately, as technology improves, more and more tasks can be outsourced and automated—even customer service.

Enter Chatbots.

A Chatbot, as defined in the dictionary, is “a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.” Over the years they have grown increasingly complex and sophisticated. Some can handle tasks as complex as life advice, weather updates, personal finance, order processing, inquiries, and many more.

Moreover, today’s Chatbots have been programmed to respond in ways that approximate actual human interaction. And they can cost as little as $19/month. That’s way less than hiring a secretary or a personal customer service representative!

Here are some of the ways Chatbots can help your small business:

  1. Answer Customer Queries

Chatbots can function as your “first line of defense” when it comes to customer queries. Instead of answering each question directly, you can program Chatbots to handle your FAQs and other basic inquiries. This allows you to decongest your inbox and concentrate your effort on other, more important questions and concerns.

Programming Chatbots to answer inquiries also allows you to develop a standard procedure for FAQs and inquiries. That way, your customers will be getting a uniform response each time. Used alongside test automation software, you can eliminate vital Q&A bottlenecks.

  1. Act As A Sales Rep

Small businesses usually don’t have large sales teams. The lack of sales people usually translates to limited reach and bottlenecks. Chatbots can be programmed to work as a secondary sales force. Some of the ones available today can narrow down your customers’ choices by quizzing them on their preferences. Even companies such as H&M have used this technology to their advantage.

Having a Chatbot as a sales rep gives your and your team more time to focus on higher-level tasks such as planning, negotiating, and operations management. This saves a lot of time, effort, and money on your part.

  1. Create A Customer Database

Taking down and filing customer information can be fussy and time-consuming. Chatbots can be programmed to extract customer information, file them in a database, and pull the files up for subsequent interactions with customers. Not only does this save you the trouble of remembering each customer, it also allows you to perform those tasks at a fraction of the time. That’s a win-win for both you and your customers.

  1. Improve Social Media Engagement

Using social media analytics, Chatbots can track down and engage potential customers on different platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Not only can this expand your brand’s reach, it can also help you target customers that share the same interests as your brand.

  1. Streamlining Payments

The latest Chatbots have made it possible to process payments using a simple message. Facebook now allows businesses to process payments using Facebook Messenger without the need for third party apps. This decreases the friction between you and your customer and allows for a smoother purchasing experience.

Developing an effective Chatbot requires an understanding of what functions you need. Mobile testing software has made it possible to test the effectiveness and efficiency of Chatbot software across all platforms. Armed with a Chatbot, you can expand the reach of your small business and, at the same time, dedicate your time to the more important work. How’s that for having your cake and eating it?

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Michael Peggs
Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships in the United States and Asia. He is also a contributor to The Huffington Post, FastCompany and Business Insider as well as and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy Podcast You University.