Lee Kenny: Top of the Bots, your newest customer service representative

Lee Kenny, Managing Director at Snowflake Media
Lee Kenny, Managing Director at Snowflake Media

Artificial Intelligence can feel a world away for most small businesses, a costly irrelevance, but thanks to the rise of the ‘chatbot’ it could be more accessible than you think.

In today’s social media world, customers expect an answer within minutes. With Facebook, expectations are that you’ll respond within the hour, on Twitter you typically have eight minutes before the customer looks elsewhere.

With this in mind Facebook has introduced chatbots - automated processes that are designed to take your customer service to the next level without adding anything to your workload.

Facebook Messenger is a powerful tool for businesses to communicate with customers directly and chatbots offer a way for you to automate this process. Facebook chatbots are a great way to create an instant customer service experience without monitoring your account 24/7.

There are over 1.3 billion users of Facebook Messenger and 300,000 active chatbots. Over 59 per cent of millennials and 60 per cent of Gen Xers in the US have interacted with chatbots. Global research firm Gartner predicts chatbots will power 85 per cent of customer service interactions by 2020.

Here are five ways your businesses can use Facebook chatbots:

1. Automated responses for common queries, including opening times, return policies, order status and delivery costs.

2. Savvy customers will always do plenty of research before selecting a product or service, so your chatbot should give them everything they need to help them decide on a purchase, including specific warranty details, product materials used, product rating and reviews, and size and colours available.

3. 83 per cent of customers say they need assistance during the purchase process and a chatbot can deliver help in the most common scenarios. Your chatbot can provide support for payment confirmation, payment options, technical assistance and cart adjustment.

4. Rather than send an email that might not be read in time, businesses can send out more immediate alerts via a chatbot automatically. Your chatbot will be able to send notifications of a change to a flight, event cancellations, time-sensitive offers and emergency incident alerts.

5. 49 per cent of customers say they have made an impulsive purchase after receiving personalised offers. You can use chatbots to deliver location-based offer, deals based on past purchases, and abandoned cart reminders. I always think a live person will deliver better service than a bot, however the bots can guarantee a speedy first contact that could help make that sale a reality.