At the beginning of 2018, 15% of American adults had interacted with a chatbot and 44% of consumers said they would prefer to interact with a chatbot over a human customer service representative.
The allure of chatbots for businesses is obvious. You get an automated customer service representative without the cost of human capital. Your prospects and customers get an instant response to their questions at any time of day.
80% of businesses want to use chatbots by 2020. But a surprising number of businesses aren’t using chatbots, not even in their simplest forms. With conversion rate increases as high as 266% in some use cases, why aren’t more businesses putting this innovative technology to work?
If you want to learn how to double your lead capture with chatbots, find out more below.
How Do Chatbots Work?
Put simply, a bot is a type of AI software that performs tasks. A chatbot’s task is to communicate with humans to help them get answers, solve problems, or accomplish their own tasks, such as making a purchase or scheduling an appointment.
Chatbots interact with humans over the easily-recognizable format of a chat or SMS window. Talking to a chatbot is not unlike text messaging, although you can expect chatbots to respond much faster than humans!
Likely, you’ve seen a chatbot in one form or another if you’ve browsed any business websites recently. There are two varieties: smart chatbots and simple chatbots.
Smart chatbots can respond to complex inquiries using algorithms and machine learning. They don’t use pre-written answers.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding smart chatbots, but most of them are still in their developmental stages. They aren’t employed by many businesses.
Simple chatbots can answer basic questions or serve information to users. These are usually pre-written responses that are triggered by specific keywords.
Simple chatbots are the most commonly used chatbots by businesses. You can integrate simple third-party bots into your website or even develop your own.
What Can Chatbots Do?
Chatbots can be attached to a knowledge base to answer FAQs about a product. They can also be integrated into an ecommerce website to help visitors make a purchase, or perform other tasks, such as:
- Provide customer support
- Accept bill payments
- Run surveys
- Provide financial advice
- Schedule meetings
- Help consumers find products
- Book travel arrangements
- Reserve seats at a restaurant
- Order pizza
- Capture contact information
Chatbots can also be built for messaging and text apps like Facebook Messenger.
But one of the main reasons businesses are interested in chatbots is that they can provide a better website conversion rate than traditional methods, such as live chat or contact forms. These conversion opportunities aren’t obsolete, but they aren’t a frictionless way for visitors to interact with your business.
Chatbots are important for creating an action-driven website design. That is, they’re just one more tool for encouraging your visitors to seamlessly convert.
We’re just beginning to understand all the opportunities chatbots can provide. Here are some of the most effective ways chatbots can help you increase lead capture.
Offer Coupons and Discounts
Everyone loves free stuff, but not everyone is willing to fill out a form or talk to someone to get it.
For example, Primo Fitness had a live chat feature on their website, but it wasn’t getting much use, despite the number of visitors they were getting. The company had some special offers they wanted to promote, but their old tactics weren’t giving them the results they wanted.
When they installed a simple chatbot on their website, they started getting 12 leads every day by providing visitors with a free discount offer:
Once the visitor provides an email address, their offer is emailed to them automatically and Primo Fitness gets a new contact. If this offer had only been accessible through a CTA or contact form, do you think it would have had such a high conversion rate?
In this case, the chatbot turned a discount offer into a conversation. Instead of filling out form fields, all the visitor needed to do was chat with a bot.
Provide Customer and Visitor Support
Most businesses pride themselves on their customer service. Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t living up to the expectations of their customers and prospects.
According to one study, 89% of messages that require a response are ignored by brands — with an average wait of 10 hours for those who do get a reply.
Chatbots provide an easy way for customers to get in touch with businesses, get questions answered, and access the support they need. They’re particularly useful for software companies that need to field a lot of questions about how to use their software. In this situation, chatbots can be integrated with a base of knowledge to provide customers with quick answers to their questions.
But businesses aren’t just using chatbots to increase their customer response rates. Chatbots can also save businesses vast amounts of money.
According to one report, chatbots can reduce customer service costs by 30%.
Nonetheless, there is a right way and a wrong way to use chatbots from customer service.
Chatbots should never have the final say on serious customer inquiries. The chatbot should declare itself and provide an easy avenue for customers to speak to a human if they so choose. A clumsy chatbot can exacerbate a customer issue if it doesn’t provide the right resources.
According to one study, 40% of U.S. consumers still prefer to talk to a human for customer support. Most experts recommend using AI-powered solutions to provide quick answers and to gather data about a customer’s inquiry. Meanwhile, humans should be the arbiters of detailed inquiries and serious customer complaints.
Schedule Calls and Meetings
For B2B businesses, nothing is more important to sales than scheduling a phone call. Chatbots make it easy for prospects to
contact you and book a meeting with one of your representatives. Prospects can even do it without speaking to a human.
In most cases, you’ll connect your chatbot to a scheduling tool. Check out HubSpot’s HubBot as an example.
Once you ask about pricing, the bot qualifies you as a lead. Then, the transition from bot to human is seamless. Immediately, you can book a meeting with someone on the HubSpot team to talk about pricing.
How Do You Implement a Chatbot?
For most businesses, implementing a chatbot on their website isn’t a difficult process. There are plenty of third-party bots available that can accomplish any number of tasks.
The trick is knowing what you want your bot to do. Before implementing a chatbot, do the following:
- Identify opportunities for lead capture
- Determine the purpose and goal of your chatbot
- Visualize and plan the customer experience
- Find a chatbot that works for your objectives, or develop your own
- Implement and test your chatbot
- Analyze the results of your chatbot
When used correctly, chatbots can dramatically influence the conversion rate on your website.