The business of retail is complex, yet for customers, it should be just the opposite. Because of this, enhancing consumer experiences must be considered from every angle in which customers engage. This includes in physical stores, via traditional e-commerce websites, during online marketplace browsing, throughout social media experiences and even as customers navigate any other page they may visit online. Keeping this in mind, chatbots enable retailers to strengthen customer experiences while also boosting retailer opportunities. Among the ways they do this include the following:
#1: Chatbots Can Deliver Answers in Real-Time
Nowadays, customers want answers as quickly as they identify questions. Whether it’s locating the address of a store or inquiring about product details, many customers lack the patience or even the desire to search websites for answers but instead, want to simply ask their question and get an immediate response. Among the best ways to do this is to introduce chatbots to your customer service strategy. When customers come to a company’s website looking for a specific product, for example, they can simply tell the chatbot the item’s details and then the chatbot can direct them to it. This ease of navigation adds value to consumers and ultimately strengthens customer service to the brand, as well.
#2: Chatbots Can Help Drive Revenue
Chatbots are here… and here to stay. And while many merchants shy away from change, the potential long term benefits of chatbots make them worth the initial adjustment period that they may cause.
With a reported 61% of customers already embracing chatbots as part of their future, it’s nearly a no-brainer for companies to embrace chatbots, as well. To get in on the action, companies should proactively introduce chatbots as an extension of their selling strategy. Having chatbots easily visible on their websites, making chatbots pop-up on targeted web pages and even having chatbots programmed to answer your toughest questions can all help drive not only customer satisfaction… but also sales.
#3: Chatbots Can Offer Brand Awareness
While generating sales is undoubtedly important for retailers, so is building brand awareness. Thanks to chatbots, businesses can leverage this technology to do just that. Through chatbots, companies can alert consumers to promotional opportunities, current sales, discounts available and more. Combined with third-party messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, chatbots can even push out useful content to customers to help strengthen brand awareness. Collectively, these efforts then encourage consumer clicks and lead to stronger product discovery.
#4: Chatbots Can Strengthen Employee Efficiency
Retail is complex yet supporting customers doesn’t have to be. Thanks to chatbots, customer service can be heightened and profits can even increase.
While chatbots can be programmed to answer common customer questions that ultimately strengthen customer satisfaction, the value that chatbots can deliver to employees should not be ignored. With Oracle reporting over 80% of companies plan to invest in chatbots by 2020, it’s clear that the value of chatbots extends well beyond just customer engagement. Businesses are recognizing that chatbots are opening up time for employees to engage in other procedures that ultimately strengthen business efficiencies. When you factor in this added value of chatbots, it becomes even more clear that chatbots are an investment worth considering.
#5: Chatbots Can Put Customers in Control
Nowadays, customers want answers as quickly as they identify questions.
The reality is, not all customers will want to engage with chatbots. Some prefer classic search boxes, others prefer to call customer service associates directly and some simply avoid online navigation in general and try to speak to store associates in physicals stores. Keeping this in mind, having an “opt-out” or “close” button on chatbots that automatically may pop up is important. This helps to ensure you are meeting all customer preferences… not just those that prefer chatbots.
Chatbots are here… and here to stay. And while many merchants shy away from change, the potential long term benefits of chatbots make them worth the initial adjustment period that they may cause. Plus, when retailers recognize how they can improve upon customer service experiences, help to deliver increased employee efficiency and even heighten brand awareness, it’s clear to see that chatbots are indeed an added value to any merchant who wants to stay competitive in today’s complex retail marketplace.
About the author:
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder of RetailMinded and a published author. She is a frequent contributor to The Today Show, Forbes, and countless B2B publications. Reyhle is the Spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday and writes regularly as a retail thought leader for various industry resources and is recognized as a Top 10 retail thought leaders from Vend and a retail “futurist” for IBM. Finally, Reyhle is also the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference.