Cultivate

THE ROLE OF CHATBOTS IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BUSINESS

August 17, 2020

Even before the COVID 19 outbreak, consumer behavior has become more reliant on online platforms for their needs, recommendations, and queries. This dependence on using the internet has grown even more over the past few months with restrictions on movement and business operations. As consumers struggle with having limited physical contact with retail stores, even professional services providers like you are finding that doing business in 2020 has become a bit surreal.


True enough, these new adjustments are rapidly transforming the way people conduct and transact with businesses around the globe, and things are shifting from being the new normal to the "Now Normal." For entreprofessionals, this could be a possible source of problems, especially given the fact that the old ways of lead generation and nurturing rely heavily on physical meetings and appointments.


Good thing we've also seen a rise in several digital marketing strategies that allow professional services providers to cope with this challenge of cultivating strangers into an audience for the messages you wish to share. Here's where Marketing Automation comes in.

What is Marketing Automation?


Marketing Automation is a digital marketing strategy that uses intelligent software to customize your brand message for your clients. It creates informed and analytical decisions in communicating with your target market by using customer data gathered from artificial intelligence powered algorithms. It leverages the power of technology to minimize you and your team's manual labor so you may focus on attending to more complex and creative tasks.


One of the most recent trends in marketing automation is the usage of bots (short for digital robots) to carry out several digital marketing tasks. They have been quite popular in the past year, and several new possibilities are still being explored with the usage of bots for marketing purposes.


How does it work? Think of it as a vending machine. The technology behind bots offer an array of tasks they can carry out. You feed it with information and it spits out the result or product you want out of it. There are a lot of ways you may integrate bots into your digital marketing strategy. If you're interested in knowing more about them, here's a list:


1 Communicate with website visitors. People go to your website to know more about you and your services. And more often, they will have questions about you and what you offer. Like it or not, website visitors want immediate responses to their questions. This is one of the pros of having chatbots. It provides people an opportunity to raise their questions when they want and where they want. This improves your website's overall user experience and leaves a good impression to your target audience.
2 Qualify your leads. Lead management is an important, yet tedious process. Leads often need to be nurtured consistently and that could take a great deal of time and energy. And while the end results are worth the hard work, we can't deny the fact that it can be challenging, especially given all of the other demands on a business owner. Chatbots help you in this entire process. As surprising as it sounds, these artificial intelligence-powered bots can qualify your leads by identifying which part of the sales funnel they are in. By programming a set of questions, you'll be able to filter through these leads and know which ones are ready to acquire your service. 
3 Personalize user experience. A little personalization can go a really long way. Potential clients are more responsive to customized messaging, so if you're not riding this trend, you might be losing customers to your competitors. Good thing this is made possible by bots by laying out a series of questions that present your leads with options. These questions gather information from users and the programming transforms that data into a personalized experience. The result is a customized message appropriate for each stage of a customer's sales journey.
4 Sell your services. Another advantage of bots is that they don't have human needs. They don't need to take breaks, nor need to sleep. This means that integrating chatbots to your website gives you an opportunity to sell your services round the clock. While you and your team rest at home, a chatbot could be attending to a potential customer, offering them the right services they need. Not only does this nurture your leads, it also helps you in making them realize their need for your services.
5 Get user demographics and psychographics. With the previous items discussed, it shouldn't come as a surprise when we say these bots can identify users' demographics and psychographics. The good thing about it is that your leads don't even realize that they are offering information about themselves because they're trading it in exchange for information that they also need. These bots can track a user’s purchasing behavior. This data helps you in offering better solutions to their problems, and figuring out what drives their decisions to acquire your service.
6 Increase engagement. Marketing has always been about starting a conversation with customers and engaging with them. It's done through ads and website copy, and other branded messages we put out there. But with chatbots, you are able to go the literal route and begin conversations with your potential clients. Bots can be set up to reach out to the user first, especially during their first encounter with your website's landing page. Initiating a conversation with a user improves your chances of them moving down the sales funnel, as they will have more interaction with your brand.


With all these ways you can integrate bots into your digital marketing strategy, it's easy to see that the power of this marketing automation tactic lies on bots' engagement with customers through messaging. After all, these are called chatbots for a reason.


Chatbots aren't really a new thing in the digital world. They've been around for a few years now, but with what is going on right now around the world, they are gaining some significant attention.


More and more businesses are taking advantage of this strategy. But as the entreprofessional world deals with business and customers differently, are chatbots really all that beneficial for your firm? Here are some pros and cons of using chatbots to help you decide whether it's a good investment for you or not.

PROS

• Faster customer service. This has been discussed in passing above, but it begs reiteration as it is one of the greatest pros chatbots offer. They provide customer service according to the users' terms. They are immediate in responding and providing information and can make your website visitors feel like they are prioritized.
• Increased customer satisfaction. Increased speed in providing the information your potential clients want often lead to a good overall experience with your website. This elevates your brand in your customers' minds and leads them closer to building loyalty to your brand.
• Lower labor cost. Just imagine having to pay multiple employees to attend to your client's inquiries. Chatbots diminish this cost by only paying a single software to attend to tasks normally done by a team of people.
• Variety of uses. As discussed above, chatbots can be integrated into several digital marketing strategies and platforms, allowing you to achieve several business goals especially in aspects of lead qualification and nurturing.

CONS

• Limited language for responses. Since bots are programmed, you can't expect them to respond like people do. They are limited to the language and words you input in its system. This causes some restrictions in answering other more complex inquiries from your website visitors.
• Un-natural. In the same manner that they are limited in their language, bots have the tendency to sound unnatural when conversing with your leads. While they are highly customizable, they do not carry the spontaneous vibe that a real person has during conversations. Also, because they are set up in such a way that pulls answers from a database, they sometimes end up getting confused with how customers phrase their queries. When this happens, bots might run in circles and provide repetitive responses to your users.
• Cost factor. One of the pros of chatbots is its cost effectiveness, but it could also be one of its cons. Chatbots may require higher cost if your marketing strategy demands more complex, more customized messaging. Setting up these high-end AI-powered software systems can also take a lot of time and effort on your end.
• Human apprehensions. When humans detect they are talking to a computer, they sometimes back off, feeling concerned about their privacy. This is especially common among the older population, which might constitute a big part of your target clients. This population segment requires a more human approach which a chatbot is understandably limited in providing.

Conclusion


Chatbots provide entreprofessionals a workaround to some of the laborious and complex tasks of professional services providers. On the other hand, the complexity of the professional services industry could also be the very reason why chatbots are not a good fit for your specific strategy.

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If you're still struggling to decide on whether to invest on chatbots for your business, allow us to help.  Click here to see if you qualify for a Vimagery Strategy Session. Together, we can help you to gain an unfair advantage regarding your efforts to cultivate, convert, and close new clients in the weeks and months ahead.

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