Why Chatbots are Essential for Your Small Business
Why Chatbots are Essential for Your Small Business
Unlike large enterprises, the majority of small businesses don't have the budgets to spend extensively on tools and applications for marketing or customer services. One of the emerging technologies that are growing in use among marketers is AI-powered chatbots. But is it worth cutting into your bottom line on this new tech? Are chatbots a fad or are they here to stay?


What Are Chatbots?

Chatbots are a software application that can simulate human interaction. They are like virtual assistants who can converse with you naturally, except that they are purely computer code. Chatbots do away with the tedious practice of navigating via numerous menu presses. Instead, users get to "converse" with an AI. These conversations can be scripted or complex. Simpler chatbots can respond with pre-programmed scripted responses, but some chatbots can "learn" using natural language processing.


Where Are Chatbots Used?

Chatbots can be deployed on several channels like a website and certain messaging applications.


Facebook Chatbots

Chatbots can be deployed on Facebook Messenger, allowing them to communicate with the platform's users. This is a popular way of using chatbots as Facebook Messenger has a billion users worldwide and continues to grow rapidly. Companies who use Facebook Messenger chatbots typically use them for marketing drip campaigns. Instead of emails, chatbots are used to deliver content to users.


Website Chatbots

Website chatbots are identical to a regular chat window manned by a person, except that they are purely AI. These are typically located at the bottom-right corner of the page. As the user browses certain pages, website chatbots may pop up to engage with the user with a question.


App-Based Chatbots

There are several standalone chatbot apps that users can engage with. These apps often offer recommendations on food, lifestyle, health, and many other topics. One example of these apps is Lark, a chatbot fitness coach, that can be downloaded to one's mobile.


Popular Uses of Chatbots

Businesses have found creative uses for chatbots, particularly in sales, marketing, and customer services. The following are the app's most common uses.


Lead Generation Chatbots

Chatbots sit comfortably at the top of the sales funnel, where most of the lead generation activity takes place. Because they are far more engaging than traditional web forms, users are more likely to offer contact information to chatbots, making the lead generation process easier.


Sales Chatbots

Chatbots can upsell goods and services during a conversation. Using the information provided by the user, they can guide users toward the product or service that matches their needs.


Customer Service Chatbots

Chatbots are increasingly being used in customer service to handle repetitive inquiries like questions on pricing. This allows the people in customer service to handle the more complex inquiries and transactions.


How to Tell if a Chatbot is Right for Your Business


So far, we've established how sophisticated and useful chatbots are in business, but do small businesses need one? Small business owners should check if their business is receiving a lot of repetitive questions, if their audience is tech-savvy enough to enjoy using a chatbot, and if their operation has the resources and skill to monitor the bot's performance. If the answer is "yes" to these conditions, then the capabilities of a chatbot will be a great addition to the business.


How Much Do Chatbots Cost?

This will depend on the type of chatbot. A chatbot that can handle basic customer questions can cost between $15,000 and $30,000. More complex chatbots will cost more, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. For a small business, this may sound unacceptable. But there are cheaper options like online services that provide chatbot services for a monthly fee.


Botworking's advice for small businesses is to try these more affordable tools first and see how customers respond. If a chatbot goes well with the business's customer support and sales systems, then investing in a custom-built chatbot with more advanced capabilities will make a lot of business sense.


Bottom Line

Chatbots are an amazing piece of technology with many uses in business. Many companies have taken notice of its impressive capabilities and are implementing them on their sales and marketing strategies.

Small businesses can also take advantage of this technology, but because of their smaller budgets, a bit of due diligence is called for. By evaluating the needs of their operation and customers, they can make a better decision on how to implement chatbots to their overall strategy.


In Need of a Customer Service Chatbot?

Chatbots do not require years of coding experience to create. Guides on how to create a simple one can be found online. But if your business requires a sophisticated customer service chatbot but you have no idea where or how to start, let's chat.
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