In case you haven’t noticed, the bots aren’t coming — they’ve already arrived.

For ordering tacoshailing an Uber, or even helping with your healthcare, chances are there’s a chatbot residing in your messaging app of choice, whether that’s Facebook Messenger, Slack, or WeChat.

Chatbots aren’t just for big name tech brands and retail — small businesses stand to gain plenty from them, as well. And it’s not just about maintaining a professional business identity with the right communications front. Small businesses should consider chatbots to streamline common features of the company website and support functions — thereby saving time and money, while boosting sales.

Check out the following benefits for small businesses:

1. Immediate customer support

You can create an instant customer support presence for users who engage with your business chatbot. Consider the popular query “When will my return be processed?” Craft an all-encompassing answer for that so that your human team members can focus on more complex issues.

A customer with a question doesn’t need to sit and yawn through infuriating on-hold music or be transferred left and right because they didn’t reach the right department. Chatbots place the customer’s queries into the immediate present, meeting them on a platform they’re already familiar with and addressing the most commonly asked questions instantly.

Another advantage is brand voice consistency. You can control the tone and rest assured that the chatbot will deliver your carefully crafted messages. Humans may stray from the text; bots won’t. While they may not be able to resolve every issue that a human agent can, they can still knock off a number of low-hanging fruit.

2. Real sales can and will occur

Chatbots can also increase ecommerce sales. While they shouldn’t replace your sales team, they can assist them by being the first point of contact. You can also create an automated conversation that’s tailored to a new visitor.

While chatbots are still new, they will eventually run on artificial intelligence that is capable of collecting the data needed to curate a specific set of products for a customer. For example, a customer can tell the chatbot they’re looking for a jacket in black or blue and that they prefer a hood. The chatbot can then pull items with these specific details for the customer. The process is cumulative, too. The next time the customer interacts with the chatbot, it will keep former preferences in mind.

What’s even better is if your business sells one common product that can be customized easily by adding options. For example, if you run a pizza parlor, the customer can order by choosing from a list of toppings, sizes, and making any additional requests.

3. More automation means more efficiency

While chatbots can’t shoulder the burden for your entire business operation, what they can do is remove some of the menial but important tasks. Consider all the necessary work that occurs in the natural course of operating a business, like answering requests from FAQs, receiving and filling out common forms, and compiling data for a customer.

Many of these are repetitive in nature, meaning that you can train a chatbot to handle them with a low risk and the high return of more precious time.

Bottom line: Chatbots can yield significant benefits for small businesses

There’s no need for customers to scour the internet, wait on the phone, hop over into an app, or familiarize themselves with new processes when a chatbot can easily deliver crucial functions immediately. And this can take place in a messaging app that your customers already use, on a conversational interface that they’re intimately familiar with.

Modern businesses should be smart, specific, and intentional about how they use their time. Chatbots can help with that.

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