written by: Wong Wai Ying, Wynne

What are Chatbots?
If you think social networking apps are catching on fast, you may want to take a closer look at messaging apps which are growing even faster. The monthly active users of messaging apps have surpassed social networking apps since 2015. With an abundance of people’s time spent on these messaging apps, it’s could well be the new best place/platform to do your marketing. Automated chatbots, short for “chat robot”, are conversational artificial intelligence add-ons to existing messaging platforms, now the newest game changing sensation for business to connect with customers.

What chatbots do?

Sell Products and Services
One thing that in store shopping had previously always won online shopping in was the availability of an assistant to provide help and recommendations. However, with chatbots, customers can now communicate with it online to get tailored recommendations. Moreover, chatbots have also simplified the user experience, eliminating the need for the user to waste time finding things on a website.

Provide Customer Support
In the past, customers who wanted support would have to call, email or physically go to a store to request assistance, which usually resulted in a certain amount of delay. However, with chatbots, they would be able to assist customers with problems, and resolve those problems 24/7/365.

Gain Consumer Insights
Like all digital forms of marketing, chatbots help to draw consumer insights through tracking of customer purchase patterns and user habits. Conversations between the brand and the customers could be logged by data analytics tools for insights important to forward marketing and promotion decisions.

Personalize Experience
In this time and age, everything is about personalization, as customers expect products and services to be tailored and customized to their needs and wants. When a customer chats to chatbots, their conversation could be personalized to enhance their shopping/interaction experience.

Improve Engagement
Chatbots enable direct interaction between the brand and customer real time. Once customers are accustomed to this mode of this interaction, customer engagement is strengthened and brand loyalty could be implicated over time.

Reduce Costs
As chatbots are replacing some of the work of customer service and sales agents, its implication on cost saving is making it an extremely attractive marketing tool in a long run.

Limitations of Chatbots
At this moment, Chatbots are not adept at certain languages like Chinese and its dialects. Also, as chatbots are programmed for certain topics, when customers have unusual queries, they may be unanswered. In essence, Chatbots is a tool to assist business and marketing needs but should not be romanticized as a total solution. A fall back plan is always a good idea.

The Future of Chatbots
As the artificial intelligence technology continues to improve for chatbots, they have become a fast evolving reality. Perhaps one day, they may even be smart enough to replace the work of search engines, by striking up a conversation to answer all of our questions.

References:
Jenkinson, C. (2017, April 06). How to increase chatbot engagement up to 90%. Retrieved from https://venturebeat.com/2017/04/04/how-to-increase-chatbot-engagement-up-to-90/
Schlicht, M. (2016, April 20). The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Chatbots – Chatbots Magazine. Retrieved from https://chatbotsmagazine.com/the-complete-beginner-s-guide-to-chatbots-8280b7b906ca
Top 5 Benefits Of Using Chatbots For Your Business – Chatbots Magazine. (2017, November 07). Retrieved from https://chatbotsmagazine.com/top-5-benefits-with-using-chatbots-for-your-business-159a0cee7d8a
Samson, E. (2017, March 10). 7 Ways Chatbots Can Benefit Your Marketing Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286079