As of right now, Facebook hosts more than 80 million small and medium-sized business (SMB) Pages on its network - up from 30 million back in 2015. The stats underline the growth and ubiquity of The Social Network as a business tool. If you're not active on Facebook, you're likely missing out on opportunities through reach, discovery, engagement, etc.
And as businesses continue to ramp up their presence on the platform, consumer expectations are also rising in-step, which includes the expectation of round-the-clock support from brands on the social network. Whether it’s through answering queries, responding to feedback, and even being able to make purchases, consumer expectation is rising - they want to be able to do it all, quickly, easily, and at the time of their choosing.
This is where chatbots on Facebook Messenger come in, providing an automated solution to customer engagement. Chatbots enable you to respond at any time, provide assistance and prompts, and maintain engagement with your Page visitors.
If you've not considered chatbots for your business in the past, here are a few reasons why they may be worth another look.
1. They’re There When You Aren’t
As noted, inquiries from customers, or indeed anyone who’s curious about what your business can offer, can come at any time - even when you’re asleep or otherwise occupied and unable to respond.
Regardless of your availability, these inquiries will come, and need to be responded to ASAP. Some companies hire people for social media management, but as a small business you’re unlikely to have the resources to afford a dedicated person, much less a team, which would enable for round-the-clock responses to messages to your page.
Chatbots, on the other hand, don’t sleep, rest, or go on coffee breaks. They can be pre-scripted to answer a range of questions, and politely respond when faced with an inquiry they can’t answer. They can also (unlike their human counterparts) hold several conversations simultaneously, compensating for another human limitation.
Sephora’s Reservation Assistant, for example, uses a chatbot to handle reservations for makeup appointments.
2. They Personalize Customer Engagement
Given the role that social media now plays in our interactive process, your Facebook inbox will sometimes be the most direct channel for developing relationships between customers and your brand. On this note, the common assumption is that personal touch, which is essential to brand personality, can only be provided by having a real person responding to customers. But as a number of brands have proven, that's not actually the case.
Effectively scripted chatbots can provide customers with personalized and fulfilling engagement experiences.
Take the 1-800-Flowers Assistant, for example. The Assistant helps customers from the beginning of the buying process, by providing options of collections and flower arrangements, all the way to placing the final order.
3. They’re Multi-functional
Whether your business caters to specific and complex needs, or simple ones, chatbots are flexible enough to provide response services which can supplement customer experiences.
Chatbots can be made to do just about anything, so why not train them to help your business and the people that patronize it?
Take RemitRadar’s Galileo bot, for example, which can complete international money-sending transactions entirely on its own.
Or if you want to take a more content-focused approach, this Trivia Blast bot lets users pick from a variety of topics for its trivia game. While this bot isn’t specifically for a business, it serves as an example for brands who may want to do something more out-of-the-box to engage their customers.
4. They’re Cost-effective
And while chatbots can do all of the above, developing and maintaining one isn’t costly.
Sure, you may need to hire someone to set it up for you, and to update it every once in a while if you don’t have the skills to do so yourself. However, this will likely cost you a lot less than having multiple individuals comprise a staff behind your Facebook inbox.
If you review the kinds of questions that customers regularly send to your Facebook Page, you can more or less come up with a list of the most common ones, and use them to build your bot, addressing these specific queries.
Of course, you can also pony up for a custom Messenger bot developed for your specific needs - which can cost a few thousand dollars at the low end.
But the fact of the matter is that more and more tasks can be delegated to technology every day. In this way, chatbots have become useful, to the point that they are may eventually become an essential for online customer service.
If you haven't considered the potential of a bot for your business, it may be time to take another look at the option.