A study by the ZHAW School of Management and Law and PIDAS shows: In Switzerland, the acceptance of chatbots has increased. This can basically be explained by three overarching trends. On the one hand, the popularity of messenger apps is increasing more and more. Over 4 billion users actively use the Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber channels. On the other hand, artificial intelligence is becoming more and more present in our society and is being used by more and more companies – including for chatbots. Furthermore, nowadays most people have the demand for immediate and personalized support. Chatbots can help here, linking customer service and sales and bringing potential customers and sales staff together.
Eliza was the first chatbot in history. It was developed in 1964 by Joseph Weizenbaum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Recently, we have increasingly encountered chatbots in online stores, on social media or on websites. According to a 2018 study conducted by the ZHAW School of Management and Law and PIDAS, the acceptance of chatbots among Swiss people has increased. Thus, 70 percent of respondents have already interacted with a chatbot or can imagine doing so in the future. In the previous year, the figure was still 40 percent. This growing acceptance of digital employees can be attributed to three overarching trends:
3 reasons why chatbots are becoming more popular
1. Messenger apps are becoming more popular
According to a report by Business Insider UK, the four largest messenger apps – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Viber – had already surpassed the then four largest social media networks – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn – with over two billion active users in 2015. In 2018, this number has already doubled to 4.4 billion users. For businesses, such chat platforms have become an important channel to interact with customers.
2. Artificial intelligence is on the rise.
More and more companies are relying on the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in 2019. Sales and marketing professionals are becoming more efficient as a result and gaining a better understanding of their target audiences. Thanks to AI, they learn more quickly and accurately where their top leads are coming from and what kind of content is resonating.i When dealing with potential customers, AI is also often used to automatically sort customer data according to chances of success. Chatbots handle this process in an automated way and support sales staff.
3. Customers want immediate and personalized support
According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 80 percent of respondents expect customer support to respond immediately to inquiries. In addition, 75 percent demand that they receive advice across channels and devices at every touchpoint. Customer service, which was originally reactive, is being redefined due to the rising popularity of connected devices, the use of artificial intelligence in customer service, and streamlined workflows: In the coming years, more and more companies will be able to solve problems immediately at the point of origin, and often without the customer even having to report them. This will lead to less downtime and – most importantly – more satisfied customers. In the future, successful customer service will act proactively.
If the sales and consulting process is not designed in a customer-friendly way, the willingness of customers to switch increases. A chatbot can counteract this. It is immediately on the spot when a user visits a website or the social media channels of a company. It is important for companies to know the key interaction types of chatbots and where they can best be used. The most common use cases are:
Collect data for lead scoring
A chatbot can ask users simple questions that can be used to score leads. For example, it is possible to query company size or industry. The information provides insight into how relevant a potential lead is to the company and what the next steps should be.
Connecting customer service and sales
Chatbots can act as a link between customer service and sales. For example, when a user orders food online from a delivery service, the chatbot can automatically open a window with the option to track the delivery. This immediately increases customer service. If the user visits the site again, the chatbot already knows their preferences and can ask to order the same meal with just one click.
Provide relevant product recommendations
Depending on which landing page a user is on, chatbots can interact with them differently. For example, if a user is interested in jeans from a particular brand, the chatbot will help them find the perfect jeans for their personal preferences. In addition, the chatbot can provide the user with matching product suggestions for the desired item, which can be added to the shopping cart within the chat window.
Bringing potential customers and sales reps together.
When potential customers want to contact a sales representative, the chatbot can show them a calendar of available dates and immediately schedule an appointment. The appointment request, along with lead scoring information, is then automatically entered into the relevant sales rep’s calendar. In addition, the chatbot can connect interested users directly with an employee in real time. The customer and the employee can then enter into a dialog with each other or make an appointment within the chat window.
This point in particular shows that a chatbot does not replace sales staff at all, but rather complements them. Chatbots can take over simple tasks, such as collecting lead data. However, the sales team is still responsible for answering complex questions, providing detailed product descriptions and, most importantly, closing deals. Human interaction is and will remain the anchor point in the sales cycle. The multi-talented chatbot only makes the job easier.