If you haven't yet been acquainted, welcome to the digital age - where we buy more and more, day-on-day from online stores to fulfil our shopping needs (convenience, don't-cha-know). Gone are the days of lying in bed on a Saturday night after one too many wines, trying to order a personalised spice rack and socks for your goldfish, only to have the transaction decline. Your happy-go-lucky attitude goes out the window and so in a mad strop, you call the customer service number, to no avail; the letters '3 A M' in a deathly bright glow scorching your teary retinas. How frustrating! 

Luckily now, we can be adequately supported every step of the way (at whatever ungodly hour we choose) to live out our kitchen cupboard dreams and give our fish modest outfit choices, thanks to chatbots! 

So, what is a chatbot? A bot is a computer program powered by Artificial Intelligence that simulates and processes human conversation, allowing us to interact with digital devices as though we were communicating with a real person. They span varying capabilities, some being automated answers to simple queries and others being digital assistants that learn and evolve to personalise as they process information.  


Brands who leverage chatbots do so, not only to keep up with the times, but to see sales improvement, customer satisfaction and increased revenue. Some cool and innovative chatbots that have blessed the search space as of late are the set of chatbots, publisher Harper Collins, instated on Facebook messenger called 'Epic Reads' and 'Book Genie', which make recommendations for interesting books based on the information the user gives. Another, is Starbuck's chatbot, 'My Starbucks Barista', which translates complicated orders into contextual language the staff understand - translating those super complicated orders my nan gives like, 'a half strength, decaf, skinny, 56 degree, upside-down, latte with an inch of froth, in a cup not a glass', into (presumably), 'dirty water'. 


It's clear to see that chatbots were created to connect with customers on a personal level without the expense of human representatives. Chatbots provide an alternative to written FAQ's or guides, as they can hand customers off to a live person if the issue becomes too complex for the chatbot to resolve. Unlike the digitally-repressed days of old, with chatbots, a business can scale, personalise and be proactive 24/7. But before you start getting all 'robots-are-taking-over' on me, let me give you 4 reasons chatbots are a sales persons friend, not foe! 

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1. Qualifying Leads 

By feeding them a set of general keywords and frequently asked questions, chatbots can help qualify leads that are likely to convert, to ease the burden on the lives of your sales team. Chatbots can also assist in the lead generation process by being equipped with a lead magnet, like an eBook or a webinar to attract the attention of visitors when they ask a question. For example, a visitor to a fashion website might ask their chatbot - 'which jeans would best fit me?', to which the chatbot could automatically respond with a downloadable link to one of their sizing guides. Boom. Lead. Generated.


2. Enhancing Data Accessibility 

To operate as a well-oiled machine, your sales personnel need extensive knowledge of the market and individual customer insights. But, as you can likely imagine, this isn't really a job that can be done overnight, even by the self-proclaimed office 'hustler' (*severe eye roll*). In overcoming this issue, chatbots simplify things, and fetch valuable data about customers' interests, their questions, their pain points, etc. With all of this data in front of them, the sales team is ready and raring to go with outlining the lead's desires and problems, making their efforts to close a sale, more personalised, relevant and successful! 


3. Improving Efficiency of CRM Interactions 

Success in sales relies enormously on your CRM data - this is where all of the interactions you and your chatbots have had with prospects are recorded and used later on in accomplishing a sale. Make it look like you have the best memory of any busy salesperson ever, by referring to chat logs when closing deals so you can pull out pertinent data and previous interactions in a flash! 

Likewise, linking your chatbots to your CRM software can work to propagate streamlined follow-ups with prospective customers. We lead busy lives, sometimes opportunities pass us by - but not with chatbots! When your sales process is hooked-up with this machine learning, you can ensure a systemised follow-up routine is in place. 

So there you have it - chatbots are their name, and customer service is their game. By increasing your response time, decreasing the conversion time, chatbots are the bees knees in increasing your sales productivity and ultimately, your business success!