AI-powered chat bots are useful, versatile tools that help businesses engage, inform, and retain customers. And while just a few years ago this kind of customer service technology was something visitors only expected to find on the largest and most well-known sites, chat bots have quickly exploded in popularity and utility.
These days, chat bots are accessible and affordable enough to be useful for just about anyone running a business online. It’s easy to add a chat bot to your site, and bots can be particularly helpful for small and newly established businesses, as many of the best features of bots overlap nicely with the needs of a small business operation.
Formilla.com provides both AI-powered chat bots and live chat support, allowing you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to interacting with your customers. Let’s take a look at the biggest advantages chat bots offer for small business websites.
The single biggest reason chat bots are so useful, especially for small businesses, is the fact that they can provide 24/7 customer service and support for visitors. Small businesses can’t afford the human staff required to have someone on-call 24/7, but websites don’t have hours of operation. Potential customers can arrive on your site at any hour of the day or night, from any timezone around the world. Trying to have someone “on call” for all of these customers is a good way to get burnt out and to use up valuable resources during a time of razor-thin margins.
But chat bots never need to sleep. And a well-trained chat bot can make your site a lot friendlier and more useful for a late night visitor. If the visitor has a question that the chat bot can answer, they’ll come away from your site happy, even though they never interacted with a real person. And if their needs are a little more complex than a chat bot can answer, you can collect their contact information via the chat bot and reach out to them during regular business hours.
When you first set up your chat bot through Formilla’s dashboard, you’ll program it with responses to a number of the most common questions you know visitors to your site are asking. This small time investment can pay off in big savings going forward, since your deployed chat bot will be ready to connect with potential customers and serve up your pre-set answers over and over again without taking you or your staff away from other work.
Over time you’ll be able to identify more questions that your site visitors want answered, by reviewing chat bot transcripts and by stepping in directly via live chat as needed (this hybrid approach is one of the key advantages provided by Formilla). With regular training your chat bot will just get smarter and more helpful over time, continuing to lower your overall cost of customer service as it handles more interactions without the need for human staff.
Read more about how live chat and chat bots can work together and when you should choose one over the other.
Even if customer would prefer to reach a human rather than a chat bot, what they definitely don’t want to do is wait for a response. Many small businesses require employees to wear multiple different hats, meaning there often isn’t someone who is able to stand by and answer customer e-mails, phone calls, or live chat messages the moment they are sent. So how can an online business with only a few employees possibly provide the immediate response that customers are looking for? The answer, once again, is chat bots.
A helpful chat bot can encourage customers to ask their questions and will be capable of providing many answers instantly, in a form (text chat) that many customers prefer over alternatives. And if a customer has a question or issue that can’t be handled by a chat bot, they can either wait for a live chat agent or be directed to an e-mail interaction in a way that is a lot friendlier and just feels better than sending messages out into the digital void with no response. Nobody wants to be ignored, and an immediate reply from an informative chat bot shows customers that you’ve taken the extra steps needed to start helping them the moment they need you.
When you’re a small business just starting out in the online world, all it takes is one bad visitor interaction to lose a potential customer forever. Chat bots on your site provide 24/7 help for customers, lower the cost of customer service by automating common interactions, and improve engagement and satisfaction by delivering the immediate assistance customers crave.
If you’d like to start experimenting with chat bots on your own site, Formilla offers a 15-day free trial of our platform, complete with Helper Chat Bots. Visit the Formilla pricing page for more information and to compare plan features.