Are chatbots the future of customer relations? Even for SMEs?

Even though they’ve existed for some time now, the chatbot craze started in 2016. Most social networks and big mobile apps began experimenting with them to improve user experience. But chatbots could also be really useful for companies. Yes, even for small and medium-sized ones.

What is a chatbot?

The term “chatbot” (also talkbot, chatterbot, or interactive agent, although less common) is a portmanteau of chat and robot (even though most of these “internet robots” are usually called just “bots”).

Have you talked to Siri or Cortana? Well, that’s a chatbot but not the only kind.

They’re computer programs which can conduct a conversation via audio or text and simulate human conversations, giving the impression of talking to a real person. In reality, chatbots don’t really “understand” what they are talking about (for now). They’re programmed to react to certain keywords or keyword phrases generating predicted responses.

Most sophisticated chatbots (think of Siri or Cortana) can modify their replicas so as not to give the same answer to the same question more than once. They even tell jokes.

Advantages of chatbots for companies

As you may have already realized, chatbots can be really useful for big companies, always needing to answer questions and doubts from customers. They’re big help for customer service representatives and tech support.

Small and medium enterprises can also benefit from them for several reasons:

  • speaking of clients, as well as the aforementioned doubt-solving case, chatbots can allow customers to directly place orders online with human intervention minimized;
  • from the employer’s point of view, it could also be a solution to quickly solve (old and new) employees’ questions regarding current and future asks or about the way new company software works, saving you time and money;
  • chatbots can also be useful for Human Resources, automating time-consuming processes such as dealing with sick or maternity leave;
  • academies can benefit from them making studying easier and more time-efficient for students by instantly delivering answers back to them in response to homework-related questions;
  • of course, the well-known social bots, which work as a kind of community manager, ideal for SMEs with a smaller budget still looking to get noticed online.
A bot is accessible 24/7 and it can interact simultaneously with an unlimited number of customers.

As we’ve explained in the past, when we were bashed for creating a social bot that community managers felt “was created to take their jobs” (now they’re everywhere, they’re forced to accept them and even use them!), nothing can replace the human touch but these are tools, and tools are ideal to help you avoid losing time with repetitive tasks so you can focus on more important ones. And like with Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant, we’ve become much more accustomed to chatbots because they are everywhere: instant-messaging apps, tech support messages from companies we hire and buy from, etc. And many times, most of the time I would say, we’re grateful for them. They’re also becoming much better.

That’s our 2 cents. If you’re still not sure about what a chatbot is, why it could be good for you and your company or any other related question, do not hesitate to ask us (via social networks, leave a comment…) and if you’re interested in these tools, be sure to get in touch!