SMEs Can Take the Greatest Advantage of the Chatbot Revolution

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While big firms are rolling out large numbers of chatbots, it is smaller businesses that can use them to save the most time per head or per dollar, freeing up workers and revenue to focus on the company’s key tasks.

Massive airlines, food brands, health service providers among others are all rolling out chatbots to make their customer service and business proposition more streamlined and efficient. While a few noteable examples see them making a big difference, such as Unilever replacing its phone and email HR services globally with a chatbot, for many it just another box ticked on the road to efficiency or a branding experiment.

Startups benefit better from bots

For a startup, however, smaller business or fast-growing midsized firm, a chatbot can become a highly valuable and key part of the team. For startups, often with minimal resources, the chatbot is another cloud service that can be deployed for free or at low cost. It can act in the role of receptionist, sales advisor, customer support or booking tool.

The wider benefits remain the same, with a 24/7 presence, your business is always contactable. The ability to update the chatbot on the fly as your business grows and products change makes it flexible. Also, the ability to gain business intelligence from the bot’s analytics all help a growing company understand what their customers are asking about with time-consuming analysis of phone calls and other interactions.

Bots come with other benefits, there are many startups with no front-of-house expertise or public-speaking-quality voices. The bot can take over those roles in a limited capacity until the business finds its voice.

Also, consider less-abled entrepreneurs with voice issues who want to communicate with customers. Bots can take the bulk of their interactions, saving emails and live messenger chats for the more important conversations.

Chatbots are universal and simple

Facebook Messenger isn’t far from the only chatbot platform, but it is by far the most popular. Coming up fast are the likes of Apple Business Chat in the Message app, Amazon Echo with Alexa and other voice assistants.

Businesses on the hunt for a broad audience can tap into these platforms for wide exposure. Chatbots for your company’s website and app are also easily accessible, using a cloud platform that can install the bot on any touchpoint, using a vertical provider who can build a bot dedicated to your particular industry. Or, if your business has creative and design skills in-house, it can build the bot from the ground up to act as a perfect avatar.

Startups fail for many reasons, but most cited are money problems, failure to talk to customers and lack of marketing. A chatbot is a low-cost part of the business that can help with customer engagement, and help drive marketing. Marketing as a two-way conversation improves both customer response and helps a growing business understand the value of any marketing effort, rather than being another box on the startup to-do-list.

Artificial intelligence isn’t for the elite

Whatever market, region or vertical your company operates in, chatbots and the advanced technology they offer have never been more affordable. Chatbots can be made for free, while for low-cost features like natural language processing and artificial intelligence can be added to the mix, making the bot more powerful, flexible in its use of language and of more use to the business. If, however, the business doesn’t understand what these can do, putting ideas and projects across can be a problem.

Business leaders from any size of company need to understand what AI can do for them. Common examples include smarter bots, image recognition, analysis and so on. But the easiest way to show your boss how they can benefit is a chatbot project that can be created in short order, and demonstrates how AI can improve customer satisfaction, used to help with marketing plans, improve customer service or help plan future products.

Even if the boss of a company doesn’t understand the technology behind it, using a chatbot can prove how technologies can provide major benefits and help a business work more efficiently. Whatever the need, bots and AI will be evermore useful in the coming years, so your business had better get used to these ideas if you want to succeed.

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