The dawn of conversational marketing has been predicted with growing fervour for years, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this phenomenon is already making an impact on business’ bottom lines. Ever since Gartner’s 2014 forecast predicted that 20 per cent of user interactions with smartphones would be done through virtual assistants, businesses in all industries have sought to develop chat technologies.
So how exactly do chatbots and traditional channels help businesses?
1. It’s what your customers want
The demand for chat experiences, through both voice and text, is growing quickly in your customer base, and it’s in your best interest to meet it head-on.
Your customers are demanding chat experiences.
In 2016, Google reported that 20 per cent of mobile queries were being made by voice. More recently, a survey conducted by Twilo (involving over 6,000 consumers in seven countries) found that nine out of ten people preferred messaging as a channel for communicating with businesses. This was over traditional methods such as email, phone calls, face-to-face communication or post.
Another key indicator is the explosion of smart speaker sales. Q4 2018 saw 5.7 million Australian adults adopt a spark speaker into their home, meaning that the number of users who have access to this technology has jumped from zero to 29.3 per cent in just eighteen months of it being on the market in Australia.
So why are your customers swinging towards chat as a method of finding information?
In the age of instant engagement, customers find traditional ways of dealing with brands unsatisfactory. Some of the key pain points for users are highlighted in Drift’s study of traditional online experiences: from the responses of over 1,000 participants, it found that 31 per cent of users thought that answers to simple questions were not available on websites and 34 per cent also found sites hard to navigate on screen.
Chatbots, on the other hand, offer the ability to achieve the goals that screen searching makes difficult. For example, 37 per cent of Drift’s survey group said they would use chatbots to get an answer quickly.
In short, customers are increasingly engaging with businesses through digital mediums – and the businesses that communicate with them through their preferred channels will be rewarded with better engagement and greater loyalty.
2. Cutting cost
There are no two ways about it – chatbots are cheaper than human staff. IBM claims that around $1.3 trillion is spent by businesses each year handling around 265 billion customer calls every month, with the lion’s share of costs going on wages. They predict that chatbot service could save up to 30 per cent of that cost. Similarly, Business Insider Intelligence estimates $24 billion in wages will eventually be saved by US firms on customers service through implementing smart chatbot services.
Call centres are expensive to manage.
For those who already wrangle with expense management for call centres, this will come as no surprise. Maintaining high standards of training with a headcount sufficient to keep up with call volume is a constant challenge, but one that the savvy deployment of chatbots can help streamline.
It’s not just the headcount that chatbots help manage, though. Chatbots combined with human staff make for a much more efficient customer service process that can improve both quality and quantity. For example, chatbots can provide simple information immediately to live chat users. Think opening times, bank balances or flight deals, while more complex questions, or indeed difficult customers, can be switched seamlessly to a human agent, already armed with the background information collected by the chatbot.
Chatbots are changing the fabric of customer experience and the way call centres are run. The sooner businesses get on board, the sooner they can be part of these fundamental improvements and efficiencies.
3. Make the most of automated lead generation
Lead generation is a crucial aspect of any sales process, but it is also the most time-consuming. Nurturing leads often requires up to five follow-ups (according to research by Propeller) and failure to do so can result in having promising customers lost forever.
Chatbots have the potential to automate these repetitive, but necessary, sales functions whilst also using conversational marketing to acquire new customers at a scale otherwise unachievable through traditional sales routes. On-brand chatbot personalities providing answers ranging from health insurance tips to holiday suggestions can help promote new products and channel interested parties to appropriate sales reps.
Chatbots provide a frictionless channel that carries low costs coupled with high engagement that can help you to both win and nurture new leads.
Australian chatbot use cases
Chatbots are still a growing technology platform, but there are already many innovative companies throughout Australia who have been exploring the power of conversational marketing. Here are some of the most notable use cases:
The Commonwealth Bank
In January 2018, the Commonwealth Bank launched an AI-powered chatbot by the name of Ceba. Ceba is available 24 hours a day and can deal with 200 banking tasks, and there are plans to expand its capabilities to informing customers on their spending habits. Ceba is an advanced take on the traditional chatbot system, with the ability to not only inform banking customers how to carry out financial tasks, but actually perform them in real-time and is currently handling around 10 chats per minute, reducing the load on call centre staff.
Ceba is a move by the Commonwealth Bank to provide personalised and insightful banking experiences for customers. It has recognised the increasing importance of a seamless customer experience alongside a secure banking channel.
In 2017, Nib became the first health insurer in Australia to introduce an AI chatbot to help with general insurance enquiries. Primarily a text-based chat platform, the chatbot – named Nibby – provides basic answers to health insurance questions while also connecting to Nib’s offerings in order to channel prospective customers to the right sales or claims consultant. Nibby’s AI coding also means that it can learn from all of its interactions so that responses will become faster and more accurate over time.
The Domain Group
Utilising Facebook Messenger’s bot capabilities, the Domain Group has designed a Messenger chatbot that provides property listing information in response to a sent enquiry. Users can simply type in an address or a general location and instantly receive access to specific property listings and useful data. Aiming to make the property search more user-focused, Domain Group were also keen to capitalise on their significant social media presence of more than 480,000 followers on Facebook.
National Australia Bank
Another financial institution looking to make a move into digital customer experiences is NAB. Their chatbots, known as virtual bankers, are part of a huge cost saving exercise set to overhaul their call centres. Virtual bankers are able to perform most of the banking processes previously completed by call centre staff. The automation of these processes is expected to save the bank $16 million by 2020 according to their own estimates.