The main use case for chatbots for sales is currently qualifying leads. This sales model is well understood and is particularly effective while chatbots remain relatively novel. As with any sales channel, it is likely to get less effective as users become more familiar with the techniques.
In this case, chatbots are used to qualify leads in a similar way to a landing page or a contact form, but with more customization in the engagement with the customer.
The chatbot can have some awareness of what the customer had looked at and done on the web page and therefore can be set up to engage in a more relevant way with the customer. For example, if the customer had looked at a particular item, the chatbot could offer help with that item or provide additional information.
The chatbot is easier to engage with than a web form such as a contact form and can have a graphical dimension to it.
The type of chatbots that are normally used for sales are scripted chatbots where the interactions the chatbot can have with the user are predetermined. Natural language driven chatbots are not generally a good fit for this use case as it is not clear how or whether the user will engage from a sales point of view. It may be possible, however, in some cases to have the chatbot answer FAQs and transition from a particular set of FAQs to the sales script (as appropriate).
The main goal of the chatbot will normally be to get contact information, permission to contact the user in the future and an idea of whether the user is a good prospect, in the language of sales, a qualified lead.
In certain circumstances, the chatbot can perform a call to action, such as getting the user to book an appointment or download software.
To make it more likely that a user engages with a chatbot, there normally should be some incentive offered for the user to engage with the bot. For example, the user could be offered a discount code or a free white paper for engaging with the chatbot. A chatbot could also be a useful addition to the check-out process by making some offer to incentivize the customer to complete the purchase if the customer is hesitating.
Other ways that the chatbot can help with sales is by removing friction to buying. This could involve guiding a user to relevant information on the website, or offering the ability to purchase from within the bot itself.
This capability to support purchases or other call to actions could be particularly effective if used in addition to an outbound advertising campaign. Prospects could not only receive a message from the chatbot but could buy by replying to the message they receive. This massively reduces the friction to buy. This technique could of course also be used for any call to action related to an ad campaign.
Designing and building sales chatbots is normally a relatively straightforward process. The flow of the chatbot is normally scripted and well defined and the goals of the interaction are normally clear. Building the chatbot is slightly more challenging if the chatbot allows for customer enablement, such as allowing customers to buy products and services through the chatbot, as this requires integration with internal systems.
Another creative use of chatbots in sales is to reply to comments on social media. For example, chatbots can reply to comments left by users concerning a particular post on a social network, if relevant to the company in question. The chatbot can be set up to identify relevant text in the comment and then respond accordingly with a relevant comment or call to action. Of course, the goal is to provide users with relevant information or offers, and not to spam people who are unlikely to value the product or service offered.
One interesting area to consider for a chatbot for sales is voice. Voice devices don’t readily lend themselves well to providing unsolicited offers for products and services as is the norm for graphics and text adverts. There are three main use cases for sales on voice devices.
In this case, the user orders the class of product or service they want, but the bot has some discretion as to how the order is fulfilled or at least some control over the brand options offered to the user. For example, “Book me the cheapest ride to Super Mall”, “Order me some Greek Yogurt”. Notice that the user did not specify the ride hailing service to use or the brand of greek yogurt.
In this case, the user has ordered something and the bot upsells related services.
User: “Book me 2 tickets to Action Movie around 4 pm”
Bot: “Booked for 3.50 pm at Vision Cinema. Do you want me to book you a car at 3 pm to take you there?”
In this case, the user has ordered something using the voice interface prompting related products and services can be shown on a screen. The user can then respond to these offers with their voice if they choose.
While chatbots are currently used in conventional ways to take users down the sales funnel, it is likely in the future that more user actions will be carried out by chatbots and that new ways of selling to customers will emerge.
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