Think about the last time you visited a website looking for a specific piece of information. Maybe you were looking for a solution to a particular problem, a DIY method for solving the issue, or a product that would make the problem go away. How did your visit go?
Arrive on a sales-focused landing page?
Look through the navigation trying to find a relevant page?
Try an on-site search tool?
Look for an FAQ or other quick-answer page?
Watch a video?
Download a resource?
Fill out a request for callback?
All of these are great ways to engage, but they all also have one drawback: They require the site visitor to do the work of digging for the information they are seeking. And all too often, visitors don’t stick around very long if a site requires too much work.
Marketers have recognized the seriousness of that drawback, and many are looking to the artificial intelligence (AI) in chatbots to eliminate the work and engage site visitors immediately.
Chatbots: The AI Tool of Choice
Setting aside the increasing dominance of voice search, chatbots are one of the most common ways organizations are using marketing AI today. Done right, these little bots can help to increase both customer engagement and sales efficiency.
Chatbots are AI-based software programs that you can configure to complete specific interactions with site visitors. The bots use machine learning to improve their responses over time, learning from customer responses as well as any training you put them through.
Here are three ways you can use the humble chatbot to improve customers’ experience on your website.
#1: Optimize resources
Chatbots are handy time savers. Do customers frequently come to your site to find answers to common questions? A chatbot can easily be configured to provide that information by:
Greeting incoming visitors
Offering immediate assistance with popular tasks or common questions
Providing links to self-help info
Funneling visitors into a support chat
By filtering the flow of incoming visitors in this way, chatbots can save significant resources.
For example, one of Refactored’s clients was frustrated by the amount of time that sales and support staff spent answering calls from customers who were looking for a particular resource or had high-level questions. These calls were eating up employee time, preventing them from making new sales and developing new resources. But making sure that customers got the all the answers they needed was an important task.
Enter the chatbot. The client was able to use the bot to answer the top five high-level customer questions without involving a live team member. To answer questions that needed human intervention, the bot was able to filter visitors directly to the right resource.
The solution not only saved the sales and support teams a great deal of time and effort but also reduced customer frustration. Answers are provided regardless of time or day, and customers don’t need to wait on hold or leave messages if a representative isn’t immediately available.
Best practice tip: Train your bot on support or sales materials to make it as efficient and effective as possible.
#2: Skip the form fill
Forms are a perpetual conundrum. Sales needs qualified leads, but marketing doesn’t want to drive off potential prospects who simply aren’t yet ready to provide information about themselves.
Chatbots can take over the info-gathering task in a friendlier, frictionless way. Requests for name and contact information, areas of interest, and even company name are less intrusive as part of an information exchange than sitting in a form. (Remember, forms require the customer to initiate the work.) The friction reduction holds true both for initial lead gathering and follow-up communications like surveys or satisfaction questions.
Once you get the information, bots can also help to qualify leads. They can pass on those leads to the right person—and even schedule connections with sales.
Best practice tip: Program your bots to be conversational and personal—but be clear about their bot-hood. People don’t like any implication that you’re trying to camouflage your bots, even though they appreciate a human-friendly tone.
#3: Keep things moving
With chatbots, you can help reduce customer frustrations by providing immediate response, even during times when employees are unavailable (e.g., weekends, holidays, the middle of the night). You can program bots to schedule follow-up calls, demos, or appointments by suggesting available times to customers.
If you’re using an omnichannel strategy, you can implement chatbots across multiple channels to increase engagement even after customers leave your site. For example, after answering initial questions and setting up a demo appointment, your bot can send text reminders and even serve up a satisfaction survey after the demo.
To support an ABM strategy, you can integrate chatbots with your account-identification and personalization functions to help direct visitors and target accounts to the content you’ve created for them.
Best practice tip: Team your bot with identification and personalization software like CompassABM to direct incoming visitors to targeted content that is most likely to interest them.
Train Your Bots for Best Results
However you plan to use chatbots, keep in mind that they work best for fairly simple if-then tasks (e.g., if the customer asks X question, then send them to the X Support page). To set up those responses, you can write playbooks that predict common requests and help your bots provide more accurate responses.
With continued use and continual training, your bots should get better and better at interacting with visitors. Your chatbot vendor should provide reporting so that you can confirm the bots’ accuracy and success through metrics like conversations held, leads captured, and appointments scheduled.