SJC BLOG


Let’s Have a Little Chat About Chatbots


Larger enterprises are utilizing chatbots for basic customer service, and as a consumer, you may think you know when your inquiry is being handled by a bot … or do you? The technology for chatbots is improving, with many pulling off interactions so smoothly that you can’t say for sure whether it’s a person or a bot.

Even so, many small- to mid-size companies retreat when conversations about chatbots come up, as if it’s a newfangled technology that only really exists for corporate America and science fiction books. If you’re imagining Wall-E or Johnny 5 interacting with your customers, that’s far from the reality. There won’t even be a hint of C-3PO’s stiff robospeak detectable in customer interactions.

Now, if you’re imagining data from Star Trek’s “The Next Generation,” that’s more on-target. Data offers a wealth of information, but with artificial intelligence to learn nuances of personal interactions.

Should You be Afraid of Chatbots?

The chatbots of today are intuitive and responsive. They can answer basic customer service questions and help close sales by nurturing a lead along. Chatbots are improving so quickly that they’re no longer just for large corporations. Any small or mid-size business owner can easily test-drive a bot to see if it’s a valuable addition to the team.

While too much talk of chatbots can have your employees eyeing their computers with a degree of suspicion, their main benefit is not for replacing jobs but adding value to existing jobs. For instance, when a chatbot is able to respond to a standard customer service question, it frees up your customer service representatives to handle more complicated cases.

The chatbot cuts down on backlog for customer service and allows you to spend more time on those situations where successfully handling a complex problem has the power to earn you a customer for life. Too many customers slip through the cracks because representatives are forced to handle a situation without being able to take the time to fully understand it.

You Don’t Even Have to Feed It

Getting started with a chatbot is a relatively easy process. Imagine that, instead of closely monitoring your social media accounts, your chatbot would handle responding to comments, alerting you only when there’s a more complex question. It’s easy to use a chatbot in this way, increasing engagement with your target audience on a social media platform.

You can hire a developer to create a simple customer service chatbot for you, and that’s often a good place to start. Another route is to access the chatbot feature on Facebook, which a year after launch now has 11,000 chatbots.

The possibilities for chatbots are nearly endless (SJC employees have been brainstorming ways for chatbots to solve life’s other problems, like interactions with the IRS. No luck so far; we’ll keep you posted).

Want to get started with a chatbot? Talk with our team at SJC, where we love finding ways to make marketing smarter and more streamlined.