Dec 28

The Pros And Cons Of Chat Bots

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Chances are, if you have been on the internet over the past few years you have had some exposure to Chat Bots. Whether through personal experience or our Introduction to Bots, this trend is taking over customer service channels. When used correctly, Chat Bots can be a wonder asset to your company and customers. While there is no substitute for human interaction, there are pros and cons to integrating Chat Bots.

Pros of Chat Bots:

Chat Bots can be wonderful tools for ecommerce companies. Smaller companies in particular might have trouble keeping their live chat constantly running, especially at times when international customers need help. This is where Chat Bots could come into use. Chat Bots are able to operate for hours without any human supervision. Having a Chat Bot answer customer questions allows you to save time and money. It also allows your customer service representatives to focus on helping your customers in different ways- not just answering the same few questions over and over. While more complex or unusual questions might need to be directed over to a human representative, basic questions are usually answered fairly well by Chat Bots.

Chat Bots allow customer service representatives to multitask. If you only have a small number, or even just one, customer service representative, it can be hard for them to keep up with customer demands. Many customers turn to chat rather than phone calls because it is designed to be more quick and efficient. However, if your representative is overwhelmed with the number of customers trying to get in contact, they are not able to provide their best service and customers will be frustrated in return. By using Chat Bots, customers are more likely to get a quick answer, shorting wait times and improving customer satisfaction. Many Chat Bots can even be programed to form responses imitating humans, so the conversation between customer and bot feels more authentic. And, perhaps the greatest pro, is that Chat Bots do not have any need or purpose outside of helping customers, so they are available 24/7.

Cons of Chat Bots:

No matter how much effort your team puts into creating and scripting a Chat Bot, it is still just a program. While it might be able to recognize and answer many questions, it cannot think outside the box. For quick conversations and common questions, a Chat Bot might be all your customer needs. Humans learn much faster than Chat Bots and can often offer solutions in a more complex way, as they are familiar with the company. Chat Bots also need to be trained for weeks, sometimes even months, before they are useful. While it is a good idea to have someone tracking and analyzing the conversations your customers are having with Chat Bots to improve future conversations, it can be frustrating for customers and discouraging for developers when the Bots do not understand what they are being asked.

Chat Bots are often sensitive, and if they are not programed to recognize spelling errors and typos they will not be able to formulate a response. It is also difficult for them to ask the right questions to guide the conversation. This can cost your customer time while the Chat Bot tries to figure out where to go for answers, and can end up wasting time rather than saving time. For example, say a customer gets online and wants to start a live chat. The Chat Bot greets the customer, asks them how they are doing, and has a “conversation”. The Chat Bot talks to the customer by name, uses please and thank you, and responds quickly. The customer then asks a question that stumps the bot. Instead of getting a helpful answer, the bot will give the closet result they are programed to use. Since the customer does not know that they are talking to a bot, they end up leaving the conversation confused and frustrated.

Chat Bots are helpful and innovative. If you do choose to use them for your company, make sure that they are not a total replacement for live chat. No matter how advanced technology gets, there is no substitute for customers getting the help they need from an actual person.

Dec 21

An Introduction To Bots

Posted by BMT Micro

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

If you have been keeping up with technology trends over the past few years, you will know that bots are all the rage. Whether or not you want to have bots or chat bots for your ecommerce store, they are a trend worth educating yourself on. Bots, chat bots, and robots are all different. While each of these is worth getting to know in depth if you plan on using them, having a basic understanding of each, as well as the differences, will help you keep up with industry standards.

Robots:

Robots are typically not worth much for ecommerce stores. However, since “bot” sounds like the shortened version of robot, it is important to know the differences. Robots are machines built to resemble a living creature, and are able to perform complex actions such and moving independently, or grasping objects. For online sales and marketing, having a robots assist you will not do you much good.

Chat bots:

Chat bots are something that most people have used before. A chat bot is designed to mimic human interactions to hold a conversation. Chat bots are often used in live chats, especially for basic questions. They are helpful in allowing ecommerce companies to maintain a presence, even when all team members are busy. While having an actual person answer customer service questions is often preferred, chat bots can be a helpful tool to assist customer service representatives. Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Google Assistant are considered chat bots, and are a great example of how helpful and fun chat bots can be.

Bots:

Bots are possibly the most versatile and useful program of the 3. Miriam-Webster defines bots as “a computer program that performs automatic repetitive tasks”. Bots are an old concept, dating back to the 1950’s. Today, bots are primarily used to analyze content and index webpages. Using bots rather than having a human manually go through all of the web pages allows the process to go much more quickly and efficiently. There are a wide range of bots- both good and bad. Good bots would include copyright bots, that are designed to scan webpages for plagiarized information. Spider bots are a very useful bot, that “crawls” through web pages to help find users the most relevant answer to their search. Bad bots are typically used to skew data, by imitating humans. These bots will click on ads, download information, and create fake accounts in order to leave comments and gain followers.

Why use bots:

Without getting too in depth, using bots helps humanize your brand. While there is no substitute for human interaction, bots help customers find the answers they are looking for much more quickly and efficiently while still having a conversation. Since a bot is just a program, it does not need breaks or time off, and is always available to help customers. If you are thinking about adding bots to help with your company, make sure that you are using language and keywords that are going to be most helpful to your customers. Chat bot language should mimic that of two humans having a conversation with one another, and offer the option of getting in touch with a human representative if the customer is not getting the answer they are searching for.

If you think using a bot is right for your company, make sure that you put in the effort to write quality content for it. Your bot should be used to enhance the customer experience, not to simply free up more of your time. Make sure that your bots are giving you the results you and your customers want to ensure a positive experience for everyone.

Dec 14
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Having a “boring” product or service is a major challenge to marketers. Some products, such as clothing, food, or home goods, are naturally easy to photograph and present. Others, such as financial services, necessities, or insurance can be difficult. Just because your product is not exciting on the outside does not mean that your advertising and company need to be boring. Use creativity to your advantage to get customers engaged, no matter what your product is.

Educate your audience:

There is a reason your stand behind your product, and a reason customers keep buying it. Chances are if your company is less exciting, customers are not going to go out of their way to learn all of the products you have. Using a humorous approach is a great way to teach people about all you have to offer, and introduce them to helpful products they might not have found on their own. 3M Canada entertains their audience with humorous commercials educating everyone on all of the products they make, aside from Scotch tape. If your company does want to take a funny approach, focus on inspiring your customers, sharing your backstory, or giving customers a glimpse into your culture.

Use affiliates:

Affliliate marketing is a tried and true way to catch an audience’s attention. If you can afford a celebrity affiliate, take advantage of their voice. Esurance made a Super Bowl commercial in 2014 featuring actor John Krasinski where he discussed how much money Esurance saved by purchasing the first commercial after the game, rather than one during the game. He then went on to explain that Esurance saved 30% by doing that, and they save their customers 30% daily. The use of the Twitter hashtag #EsuranceSave30 was encouraged, and the whole campaign was a huge success. Companies that have smaller budgets can still take advantage of affiliates by using local influencers who are famous in the community. Offering products in exchange for positive reviews and exposure is a deal many smaller influencers are willing to make, and you will still be able to reach a whole new audience. Using local influencers is very common because it has a very high success rate- think of local television, buses, and billboards featuring locals on them. It works well in those advertisements and just as well on social media.

Create a series:

Creating a mini-series can help get your audience excited and invested. A series shows off your creativity and turns a potentially boring product into an exciting one. Blendtec sets a good example by creating a series called, “Will It Blend?” where they feature their blenders attempting to destroy different items such as phones, marbles, and silly putty. Not only did they create an entertaining and inventive way to grab attention, but their videos also show off how well their product works. Dollar Shave Club also made a creative mini-series in addition to their other videos, titled “The Trick To An Amazing Shave”. In only 15 seconds, they show off how easy it is to change your razor blades with their razors in very exaggerated situations.

Just because your product is traditionally thought of as boring does not mean your advertisements have to be. Use these methods as well as your own to show customers that your company has a good sense of humor, passion, and uniqueness that sets you above competitors and surprises your audience.

Dec 7
Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Your homepage is the most important element of your website. It serves as the introduction to your brand, sets the tone, and persuades customers to continue shopping with you, rather than switching over to a competitor’s site. Every detail on your homepage should be working towards helping customers, both new and old, find what they are looking for. While there is not one right or wrong way to design your homepage, here is a guide to help you create one that reflects your brand’s image and captures customer’s interests.

How to get started:

When designing (or re-designing) your homepage, it is important to ask yourself what will work best for your company, and your customers. What works for one business or industry could be a failure for another company. Ask yourself a list of questions before you get started on your design. What is the goal of your homepage? Do you want the visitor to make a purchase, join an email list, or interact with you? How will you make this as simple as possible for them? How much information does the visitor need to accomplish the goal? Are you adding any unnecessary steps? Some of your visitors will come to your website knowing what they want, while others will be unsure or uneducated about your business. Use your homepage to your advantage to make their final decision align with the goals you have set.

What outcomes should the homepage support:

On average, you will have less than 15 seconds to convince visitors to stay on your page. From a design perspective, this means that you need to make the path the visitor would like to take as clear as possible. This is largely to to a psychological phenomenon called decision avoidance. Decision avoidance translates to customers not making a decision at all if a decision is taking too long to make. If your homepage takes too long to load, or if what they are looking for is not easy to find, it is very likely that your visitor will look for their solution elsewhere.

What should be included:

Add “above the fold” content that helps direct user’s attention towards the product or service they are likely looking for. If you have a wide range of products, make it easy for them to narrow down their search by category. Airbnb sets a wonderful example of this. Upon entering the website, they have a clear “Explore Airbnb” bar with their three main categories. If you know exactly what you are looking for, a search bar is placed directly at the top of the page. Recommended vacations and experiences are farther down the page. The design is clean, simple, and eye catching. Make sure that all of your other pages follow suit with your homepage. Adding video to your homepage can be beneficial for some companies. For products or services that are innovative or more complex, customers might be persuaded from a clever visual demonstration. One of the most important final touches to planning your homepage is to make sure to have a clear call-to-action. The call to action should align with what next steps you want the customer to take. If that is to purchase from your new collection, create an announcement with a link. If you want them to educate themselves on your new, cutting edge product, make it clear with a video front and center.

Homepages can be a lot of fun to create. Make sure to keep yours updated (especially with the holiday season here) and track your site visitors and sales. Making small changes with updated products or seasons keeps customers engaged and helps create a fun experience for everyone.