A guest post by Alan Shapiro.
The advent of social media has made people partial to real-time interactions.
If in the past, you didn’t mind sending an email and waiting for hours to a few days for a reply, now, you probably prefer a response ASAP. Such is a phenomenon that bloggers from whichever niche and sellers on e-commerce platforms should consider in earnest, that is, if you want to keep your audiences engaged.
According to a study, 82% of consumers appreciate quick responses to their queries. Failure to deliver that expectation could mean your target market is losing interest in your brand.
Thankfully, there are chatbots at your disposal, something we owe to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). AI chatbots provide reliable customer service for a fraction of the usual cost. Here’s what you need to know about this technology.
What are AI chatbots?
Chatbots are not created equal. If you’ve communicated with a chatbot that frustrated you to no end for dropping one non-sequitur after another, chances are you talked with a scripted chatbot. That is the earliest iteration of the technology that has been around for years.
A decade ago, maybe you could tolerate a scripted chatbot that replied in a pre-defined manner so long as the core of your concern got solved. But not anymore. Now, you likely expect more from chatbots. You prefer the more advanced type — that’s where an AI chatbot comes in.
AI chatbots’ proficiency in response speed and accuracy can be owed to Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies, among others. They allow chatbots to mimic the natural flow of conversations between humans, whether in the form of text or audio input.
If you ask an AI chatbot about a concept outside what they are programmed to comprehend, one of two things might happen. First, it might deflect the conversation akin to how humans evade certain discussion points. Second, it might pass the concern to a human operator.
Either way, it will learn from the conversation. So, the next time another person asks about the same subject, the AI chatbot will be more equipped to answer.
You might find that whole situation a bit intimidating, especially if you’ve seen a lot of sci-fi movies depicting dystopian settings with robots as villains. Unless you can seriously envision Siri trying to harm you, you can consider any apprehensions as pointless.
And if you’re online to do business, whether as a blogger or an e-commerce seller, the more you need to get behind the rise of AI chatbots.
How AI chatbots work
Here’s a rundown of what happens when a person interacts with the technology to help you understand better how an AI chatbot carries out customer service.
1. The AI chatbot receives a query via an audio interface like Amazon Echo or a visual interface like Facebook Messenger. The bot records the written or spoken question.
2. Using NLP, the bot processes the recorded words. A newer technology called Natural Language Understanding (NLU) takes NLP capabilities up a notch by recognising subtleties in diction. However, NLU is still in the early stages of development, and most chatbots have yet to incorporate the technology.
3. The bot employs ML to analyse an extensive cache of human conversations. It has access to millions of these conversations which help it to segment or group its subjects.
4. The bot then decides how to proceed with the conversation. For instance, it can resort to a prewritten answer if the query is simple, such as regarding the features of a particular item. For more complex questions, the bot refers to archived conversations for answers — think some bored college student who decided to trick a bot into explaining The Platonic Ideal.
5. Once it’s ready with an answer, the bot turns whatever data it has gleaned into human speech. That can be in the form of either text or audio output. There are even chatbots trained to respond in the characteristic language of a customer representative. That’s the kind you want to seek out if your objective is to keep your visitors satisfied.
How AI chatbots benefit bloggers
It’s easy to understand how an e-commerce seller could benefit from an AI chatbot. After all, customer interaction is part and parcel of the enterprise. As for bloggers, the connection might be a little hazy at first, but it’s there. Consider the following advantages of the AI chatbot proposition.
- Conversion – As a blogger, you’re a seller as well. Your ideas are your main products. Those ideas will affect your audience. If sufficiently compelled, your audience will reach out to you.
You want to respond to messages from your visitors as promptly as you can. When they chat you up to share their appreciation for your most recent post, you want to listen and reciprocate. When a visitor takes issue with something you said, you want to be able to explain yourself.
However, you won’t always be predisposed to engage in these chats. That’s where an AI chatbot comes in handy. Keeping your audience engaged will help turn your casual visitors into subscribers.
On top of that, once you reach the level of popularity that making money on your blog becomes possible, you’ll need an AI chatbot to connect with customers.
- Contextual engagement – You can personalise how AI chatbots interact with the audience in such a way that mimics what your brand is about. You can rest assured that your unique character won’t be lost in translation.
- Time-efficiency – Deciding to become a full-time blogger means juggling multiple roles. You write, edit, layout, market, and so on. An AI chatbot takes one to-do off your plate.
Technology with a human touch
To maximise the functionality of your AI chatbot, adopt only the best practices. For starters, define your objective. Remember that goals are achieved if — and only if — they are guided by actionable steps.
This rule applies to chatbots, too, so set exact expectations from the get-go. Also, mind your greeting. That’s how you set the tone for each engagement. Make sure it does not lack the human touch.
With an AI chatbot in your arsenal, rest assured you can deliver your target audience’s need for real-time communication, regardless of the time of the day. Time zones become irrelevant. AI chatbots don’t sleep, after all, and they don’t tire either.
About the author
M. Alan Shapiro is the CEO of Executive Boutique Call Center, an offshore call centre and BPO services provider. Since 2008, he has been helping his clients’ companies grow by providing them with high quality and reliable outsourcing services from their two offices in Cebu, Philippines. He spends his free time snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking and gardening.
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