Editor´s note: This is a guest post by Josh McAllister, a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. 

Live chat is a convenient way for customers to communicate with your company on its website, but offering it requires you to commit one or more employees to answer chat messages. To keep your employees free for higher priority tasks while still providing a chat option for your customers, you can opt for a chatbot. A chatbot is a program that uses natural language processing (NLP) to mimic human responses. It can interact with customers through text or even voice, making chatbots an excellent way to handle high volumes of customer interactions.

What can chatbots handle for your business? They can assist customers who are looking for products, provide resolutions to customer service issues, and provide status updates on orders. Let’s say that a customer is looking for the right sound system for his home theater. A chatbot can ask clarifying questions to determine what features the customer wants, and then suggest a few products.The versatility of chatbots make them a valuable addition to your home electronics business. They can respond to millions of customer messages. Without chatbots, you either can’t accept those messages or your employees need to respond to them. Either way, you’d be leaving money on the table.

1. Customer Support

Customer service is the most popular way to use chatbots in the world of e-commerce. With a chat bot, you can provide a personalized, convenient, and fast customer service option for your customers. Messaging apps have seen a significant amount of growth, particularly in comparison to most other social apps. You can use this to your business’s benefit by integrating messaging apps into your site. One popular option is Facebook Messenger, but you can use chatbots with messaging apps for any of the social media platforms that your business uses.

Chatbots can initiate conversations with customers browsing your site, handle product questions, offer personalized recommendations, and collect contact information for advanced issues that need to be handled by your CRM. Since chatbots can take care of basic and moderately difficult tasks, your CRM will only need to respond to the most complex requests. For example, if a customer ordered a TV from your store and needs help setting it up, a chatbot can provide setup instructions for that particular model. Instead of an employee spending 20 minutes talking to the customer via chat or phone, a chatbot can do it.

2. Mobile Conversion Rates

Although a growing number of customers browse e-commerce sites on their mobile devices, conversion rates are far lower for customers on those types of devices. In the first quarter of 2016, businesses had a 4-percent conversion rate for customers on computers, compared to a 1.3-percent conversion rate for customers on smartphones.

Boosting your mobile conversions can result in a major revenue increase for your business. And one of the best ways to communicate with customers on mobile devices is messaging.

Mobile users already use messaging to communicate with everyone else in their lives. Instead of requiring users to switch to their emails to get communications from their business, you can talk to them on the same communication channel that they’re already using.

By communicating with your chatbot while on a mobile device, a customer can get immediate answers to any inquiries. Instead of waiting hours or longer for an email response, the customer will get a response in seconds. This could be the difference between a completed order and an abandoned cart.

3. Automation

To grow your household electronics store, you need to automate as many tasks as possible. This allows you and your employees to work on more important issues instead of getting bogged down with tedious, repetitive jobs. It just doesn’t make sense to have a skilled employee handling a basic task, like a return or answering a simple question that’s already explained in your FAQs.

The speed of chatbots results in faster responses for these customer queries. When you automate tasks with a chatbot, you’re getting a consistent level of performance. Even the best customer service employees still take time to figure out answers to certain questions and can have days where they just aren’t as effective. That’s not a concern with a chatbot.

Chatbots can take care of the many basic tasks that are required to run a business. For example, Shopify has a bot that can make Facebook posts which feature your new products, set up targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, create sales reports, and send out personalized “Thank You” emails to your customers. That alone could save a full day of work for an employee.

You can also use chatbots to message customers the same information that you’re emailing to them. People spend more of their time on messaging apps now, so they’re more likely to read messages sent there.

4. Payments

How convenient is it when a customer goes right through your sales funnel and makes a purchase without one of your employees even needing to lift a finger? When a chatbot can handle payments, you have an automated funnel that can go through the customer acquisition phase all the way to confirming the purchase.

Facebook has its own bot system that is capable of processing peer-to-peer money transfers, and it’s integrating payments into its Facebook Messenger app. While that program is currently still in beta, chatbots integrated with payment gateways are the future of e-commerce.

A customer could go on your site, ask a chatbot for help picking out an item, and then pay for the item with no interaction required on your part. The chatbot can then send the customer follow-up information on the order, such as the tracking number, all through messaging.

5. Sales

Up-selling and cross-selling products are an important part of maximizing revenue, and these are both jobs that chatbots can perform just like a human salesman would.

Let’s say that a customer came into your brick-and-mortar store to buy a specific gaming laptop. Your salesman could up-sell the customer by offering a laptop with a better processor for superior gaming performance. He could also cross-sell the customer by offering accessories that work well with the customer’s purchase – a headset or speakers would both be suitable options.

A chatbot can do the exact same thing, and it has the benefit of looking at the customer’s order history to make its recommendations. It can also help you assess your online sales performance based on the conversation the chatbot had with the customer.

Chatbot technology is advancing rapidly, and they provide a personalized experience for each of your customers. The AI-powered chatbots, in particular, are excellent at making your customers feel like they’re taking to another person. The result is a better experience for every customer.

Building a chatbot is a worthwhile investment that will save your business money in the long term. The development costs will be far less than you’d spend on salaries for additional customer care executives, and the multitasking ability of chatbots allows them to handle quite a few important tasks for your business.

Author info:

Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

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This is a guest post written by one of our contributors.