Remember the good ol’ days when you called a business and got to talk to a human? Do you also remember how different answers could be depending on who picked up the phone? Or maybe you remember waiting on hold for what seemed like an eternity only for someone to come back and tell you that they don’t know the answer to your question.
There’s a lot of buzz in the marketing world about how messenger bots are solving these problems. I tend to agree with the idea that messenger bots are improving the customer experience IF used correctly.
Here are a few ways messenger bots are changing business, but more importantly changing relationships because that’s what business really is after all.
One of the biggest opportunities messenger bots offer businesses is the ability to scale. Even the best customer service chat agent can handle only so many chat conversations at the same time. It’s financially and logistically difficult for most businesses to hire and train a full force of customer chat agents to manage every conversation from start to finish.
Messenger bots supercharge relationship building because the customer service experience goes from one-to-one to one-to-many direct conversations at the same time. The conversation begins with a messenger bot that zeroes in on the issue or opportunity; and if the scenario needs to escalate to a customer service agent, they can be faster and more effective in finding the resolution. This means you have the opportunity to positively impact more people with your zone of genius.
I remember calling a company, asking my question, and if I didn’t get the answer I preferred I’d just wait a few minutes before calling back to get a different customer service person with a different answer. While I might’ve enjoyed working the system a bit, this is a liability for any business. With messenger bots your company’s relationship with customers becomes more consistent and predictable with less training needed for customer service employees.
Think about the beginning of any customer service conversation whether it’s by chat or phone. The entire beginning of the relationship is a customer service representative asking the exact same questions he or she just asked on the previous 100 calls, and you’re left explaining in painful detail what you need, usually only to get transferred to another rep where you get to start all over again.
Messenger bots (when done right) reduce the amount of time and frustration involved in a customer service relationship. There’s no need to repeat yourself as you navigate through automated questions that channel you to the right representative or directly to the right answer.
How many truly healthy, blossoming relationships do you know that are completely one-sided? None, right? The best relationships are two-sided, they depend on clear communication, and they’re mutually beneficial.
Instead of having a sales page on which businesses talk AT their customers, integrating messenger bots or chat widgets allows the conversation to become a two-way one. You learn about what your customers need directly from your customers. Businesses pay big bucks for extensive market research, but there’s a way to communicate directly with your customers to find out what they need.
As an added bonus: not only will you pick up what might have been lost revenue without the opportunity for a two-way conversation, you’ll also know what your sales page is missing based on the questions that repeatedly come through your chat widget.
I hear this objection to messenger bots all the time: it’s so impersonal. If your messenger bot is impersonal, you’re doing it wrong! The right way to use a messenger bot improves the relationship and remains conversational.
It’s also not all or nothing when it comes to bots or any chat feature. Your bot should be your frontline. It should offer quick resolutions and segment your audience in a way that then strengthens the handoff to a real live person. That’s right! The idea isn’t to get rid of all human-to-human conversations, it’s to make them more efficient, connect the right people, and nurture relationships at scale.
Now a word of caution. Messenger bots work so well in part because they’re convenient and have high open rates as they’re right in your personal messenger inbox. When you’re in someone’s inbox, you have a responsibility to treat that relationship with care. Don’t blast irrelevant messages, don’t spam your customers or leads, and always offer value. Messenger bots are still in their infancy and have massive potential to improve relationships, but as with all relationships they should be treated with care.
Karen Sahetya, founder of Brand Central Marketing, combines her digital marketing experience with her past offline marketing experience working with companies like Marvel, Disney, Target, and Walmart to help clients leverage Facebook ads, sales funnels, and bot strategies to drive their businesses. As a reformed corporate marketer, Karen knows that never before in the history of marketing have small brands and new businesses been able to compete directly and so effectively with their competitors and she proves this to her clients regularly. If there's anything she loves more than the agency, it's coaching other agencies to get results for themselves and their clients using Facebook ads and funnels.