media update’s Jenna Cook takes a look at why your brand should consider using chatbots.

Chatbots are hard at work all over the Internet, operating like virtual assistants and customer support. They are programmed to mimic human interaction using natural language understanding systems.

Here are four reasons why chatbots are your friend:

1. Chatbots are made for instant user engagement

Having an online presence allows consumers to find information about your brand at any time, day or night. And while this may be convenient for them, it’s not convenient for your brand to have employees waiting to answer queries 24/7.

So how do you ensure that you’re reaching your consumers at a time that suits them without having to change your expectations of your employees? It’s simple – use a chatbot.

These bots can interact with your consumers at all times of the day – or night. Bots can be programmed to instantly help your consumer to find whatever it is they're looking for, resolve their issues and allow your brand to truly be available 24/7.

2. Chatbots can answer questions, drive sales and collect data

In the digital age, improving your consumers' overall experience with your brand has always been important, but now that initial experience may be online.

It's therefore important to ensure that your customer's first point of contact with your brand makes a positive impact. Chatbots aren’t simply simulated conversation, they are a support system for your consumer and an information system for your brand.

If your business receives a ton of inquiries, chatbots can help to take the load off your customer support team. They can act as the first point-of-service for your brand by filtering queries from consumers and redirecting them to human customer support, but only when it's needed.

Your brand can also design a chatbot that takes note of your consumers purchase history on your website. So depending on a consumer's preferences or purchases, it can send information to said consumer about your brand’s products/services that are more likely to convert into sales.

And if your brand has an online store, chatbots can also link your consumer directly to your shop so they can buy products directly from your brand’s website.

3. Chatbots can make the most of messaging apps

Along with an online presence, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to be available on mobile – whether that is through a website that has been optimised for mobile, or on a branded mobile app.

Your brand can also reach your consumers on the mobile apps that they’re already using.

“People are now spending more time in messaging apps than on social media, and that is a huge turning point. Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services,” says Peter Rojas, entrepreneur at Betaworks.

Such services can include chatbots that specialise in searching for news, weather, giving personal finance advice and scheduling appointments – all from the comfort of a messaging platform like Facebook Messenger.

What this means for your brand is that it’ll become increasingly easy to tap into large, connected consumer bases. These consumers can engage with your brand without human intervention, which allows your human efforts to be focused on other aspects of your brand. 

4. Chatbots are inexpensive

A really great thing about chatbots is that they are fairly cheap to create. Many platforms, like Facebook Messenger, already have the coded infrastructure in place to create bots which means that you don’t need to spend money on developers creating a custom bot.

And bots also require minimal maintenance as they’re automated, allowing you to do an impressive amount of work caring for your consumers with a small amount of effort and little expense.

Want to stay up to date with the latest news? Subscribe to our newsletter.

More and more of South Africa's consumers are joining social networks. Find out how your brand can use this to its advantage by getting familiar with the basics: Social media 101: Advertising in South Africa.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy