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  • Writer's pictureRogier Visser, Founder Roundabout social

How to Make Chatbots Your Secret Holiday Weapon

The technology for artificial intelligence is rapidly maturing -- and, with it, the commercial uses for that AI are expanding.

Enter the chatbot.

Chatbots are swiftly emerging as the new way for consumers and brands to communicate -- and the upcoming holiday season offers you a brilliant opportunity to use chatbots to transform your customer experience and improve your sales.

If you’re still unsure what chatbots are and how your brand can reap their benefits, keep reading. Big-name brands have been leading the trend, but smaller brands are also starting to embrace them -- and customers are starting to expect them.

What Are Chatbots?

Chatbots are essentially computer programs that are designed to simulate human conversation through a messaging app. In the retail market and service industries, chatbots frequently assume the roles assigned to low-level customer support operatives.

Chatbots make use of natural language processing (NLP) technology to operate much the same way that voice assistants like Siri and Cortana do. Some chatbots simply guide people along decision trees -- similar to those you might find on automated customer service lines -- while others offer a fairly authentic conversational experience!

Even though chatbots are still relatively new, 41% of companies had already implemented chatbots or were preparing to do so as of 2017. Naturally, the big names in tech and retail -- Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and others -- have pioneered their own chatbots early on. However, chatbots aren’t just for the major players these days. Chatbots are predicted to be involved in 85% of business-consumer interactions as early as 2020.

Chatbots are increasingly becoming a preferred method for consumers to interact with their favorite brands when they’re looking for information -- or just looking to be entertained.

Why Do Consumers Like Chatbots?

Unlike automated service lines -- which many consumers regard with disdain -- consumers seem to really enjoy chatbots. Partially, that’s because chatbots reach consumers where they’re already spending their time. More than 45% of U.S. population uses messaging apps -- and that number is rising.

Chatbots are also simply much faster and more efficient than their alternatives. Available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, chatbots give consumers clear, near-instant answers. When consumers have a simple question, they don’t have to dig through a pile of FAQs, wait through lengthy pre-recorded messages, or sit on hold with customer service to get an answer.

Convenience is always a big lure for consumers -- and convenience is why 56% of consumers would rather message a store than call customer service. Chatbots draw on a vast array of knowledge and they put it all right at the consumer’s fingertips. There’s no reason to go into a store or wait on customer service over the phone when you can get a mirror experience through an online conversation.

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