If chatbots are the future, then texting is what helps us stay present. Technologies aren’t mutually exclusive. Much like you can’t build a house with hammers alone, you can’t have your business thrive with just one form of communication.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs shouldn’t lose sight of the range of relevant messaging platforms that they can leverage. Chatbots are great for initiating a transaction, helping to address the more common asks, and handling formulaic tasks. However, there’s still a whole gamut of incredibly valuable benefits that text messaging adds to the mix of external communications for your business.
Here are some key strengths of text messaging for businesses.
It yields a human conversation
It’s natural for us as humans to want to talk to other real-life humans. This preference holds true in the course of business conversations and transactions too. With the onslaught of technological advances, including the artificial intelligence that powers chatbots, I still think that a human interaction can’t and won’t ever be fully emulated. A human can read tone if a customer has an extra urgent request and bring comfort if they are frustrated or in need of validation. Additionally, human-to-human interactions give off a unique kind of connection that a bot can’t fully provide. Because in the end, artificial intelligence is, by definition, artificial.
In addition, because text messages are more commonly associated with personal messaging (as opposed to business messaging), they’re more likely to be acknowledged. On top of that, your business will appear accessible — an invaluable quality for a business.
It’s a universal platform
Text messaging also has the advantage of being a native phone function. It’s a universal platform that is more prevalent than the many messaging apps where chatbots tend to reside. Texting is something most people use in the course of regular communications. In fact, around 97 percent of Americans text at least once a day on their cell phones.
Texting is a phone feature that doesn’t require any additional downloading, installing, or configuring. Cutting out these additional steps is hugely beneficial in providing an already familiar environment for your business to deliver its external communications.
It provides an endless scope of possibilities
Conversation with a real person supports the full breadth of conversation, whereas chatbots by design can only deal with a limited scope of responses. A texting conversation leaves room for exceptions, customizations, open-ended questions, follow-up questions, and a whole host of new opportunities with room for expansion. When you’re operating a business, having the flexibility to personalize and customize a deal can really help in closing that deal. Chatbots allow more room for the simple, repetitive, and formulaic, but texting has a far wider range.
Bottom line: Chatbots and text messaging are both incredibly valuable business tools, and business owners should take advantage of both.
Plus, there’s no reason why chatbots and texting can’t work together. Texting provides more layers to a chatbot and a more human interaction. While there are things a bot can do better, like memorizing an entire database, it’s the human who can really shine in addressing all those gray-area questions.
So, really, this isn’t about pitting one against the other. Both chatbots and texting are valuable items in the business communications toolbox.