What’s a Chatbot?

chatbot

The word Chatbot comes from Chat (talk) + Bot (robot).

So it’s a talking robot? Yes, but the chat part can be audible (like automated voice systems) or textual. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are examples of audible chatbots. We focus on conversational chatbots that engage with people online using words or text.

There’s one on this page. Click on the bottom right and you can learn more about our chatbot services using our chatbot.

What can Chatbots do?

A Chatbot is software that runs 24×7 and responds to human requests. It can perform an endless array of tasks. For example sending prospects your brochure, following up, and adding your prospect to a subscription list if they opt in. Having asked the prospect if they want to be notified if a new product is announced or if a promotion is run, they will open up the conversation with them when this occurs. If the prospect or customer wants to talk to a real person, they can connect them to one via Messenger immediately.

We develop chatbots for Facebook Messenger. Combined with Facebook advertising, we believe it offers businesses a very cost effective way of engaging prospects, converting them to customers and keeping them engaged in your product or service.

There’s a big shift going on

Traditional email marketing is still in widespread use, but Chatbots are changing the way companies can engage with their customers. Click through rates, the ratio of users clicking on links versus the number sent are declining with email as people’s email inboxes get saturated. Apps like Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp are replacing Short Message Service (SMS) texting as they work across the internet, anywhere in the world and allow both video and text communication.

The move to using messenger over email is due in part to its immediacy, and the sheer number of people that are using a common application like Facebook Messenger. The term Instant Messaging has been around even before the Internet, but there weren’t enough people then using a common application to make it ubiquitous. In December 2017 there were 1.3 billion users of Facebook Messenger which is a huge number. Facebook separated its Messenger app from its Facebook app so people could use Messenger if they didn’t want to have a Facebook account.

This is an important point: You don’t need a Facebook account to use Facebook Messenger. Not everyone wants to use Facebook, especially some people in business who don’t want to mix their personal and business lives.

We’re a society of impatient shoppers

When people are searching for something online they want to find it quickly. They search on Google. If your page is lucky enough to be on the first page or two of the search results, they may be on your website looking for something. Your website has got their attention through good design, being easy to navigate and providing quality information. But they’re not ready to pick up the phone and call you just yet. There’s a contact form there, but still a resistance to use it. We all hate having to re-enter our name and enter our email address and submit a form. In the back of our mind we know it’s going to send the company an email and if we’re lucky, we’ll have someone get back to us in one to two days. But we want information now. If you can’t get it from one site, you’ll skip the contact form and go to the next site. After a while, you’ve either given up or found what you’re looking for and forgotten about the first site you visited.

A Chatbot in action

This is where Facebook Messenger comes in. They may have searched for a product but can’t find exactly what they’re looking for. They fit the criteria of a real prospect for your business. Through some engaging copy on your site to keep them interested, the website displays a popup where all you have to do is click on it. The chatbot wakes up and says Welcome John, we see you’re interested in our xyz product. We have new stock arriving soon. Would you like us to notify you via Messenger when it arrives? Plus we’ll send you a coupon code to take 10% off your next purchase which you’ll be able to use on our shopping cart immediately you receive it.

If they select Not at this stage, the chatbot might ask “That’s ok John. Would you like to subscribe to our mailing list? As a thank you, we’ll send you a free guide on how using xyz can help you .

If they select No again, the chatbot might ask “We know your time is valuable John. Is there anything we can do to help you today? Just type in what you’re looking for in the message area below and we’ll see what we can do?

Now this is where as a business you can learn about what your customers are really after. The words they type in here are gold. Well some might not be, but we’ll let them go to the keeper. With some pre-thought (and back to our strategic thinking approach), we can second guess some keywords they’ll type, depending on your business. If it’s a shop, they might type in a particular brand which you carry. The bot could respond with “We are an authorised retailer for and carry a large range of xyz. What product in particular were you looking for?”.

So they type in a longer description of what they’re looking for. Depending on how sophisticated we’ve made the bot, it could narrow their choice again. But more than likely they need to speak to someone. So the chatbot asks them “I can connect you to a real person who knows about those and can chat with you on Messenger right now. Would you like to do that?”.

If they select Yes, one of your salespeople is alerted on their Facebook Messenger and a conversation is opened.

We can even pop up a phone number and all they have to do is click on it and they are calling your business. All because we’ve engaged them.

and on it goes…we can make the bot as sophisticated as possible but even these simple few questions can interest and engage a prospect you didn’t have before!

The even better part, if it can get any better is…

If they select No, the bot can message them within 24 hours and ask one final question to see if they still want to stay informed. Facebook has set rules for not allowing any promotional followup after 24 hours have elapsed and after one last promotional message. Once they are engaged with your chatbot, you can however continue to send non promotional or educational material to re-engage them, unless they choose to opt-out completely, just like email. There is a strictly no spam rule with chatbots too and MUST be followed.

Give one a try

The best way to understand how they work is to give one a try. Just click “Get started in Messenger” below and it will open up Facebook Messenger and start chatting with you. Try it out.

Engaging with the bot is not restricted to starting from a website. We could run a Facebook ad targeting potential customers and when they click on the ad they interact with the chatbot.

If you have a business Facebook page, then you might know people can communicate with your page from their Messenger app. This is using the same technology. We are just extending conversations so robots can do some of the 24×7 grunt work for us and then pass control to a human when required. The powerful part is the direct engagement you can get with your customers if implemented right. This is powerful technology. However, if the functionality of the chatbot is not thought through, and the customer is inundated with too many messages, it can backfire on you. So this is another example of why taking a strategic and thinking approach is vital.

Have you noticed these strange codes in Facebook Messenger?

Align Systems Messenger Code
In Messenger, click on the People Icon, then Scan Code

You might have seen them in Facebook Messenger but wondered why there’s a strange circular series of dots and lines surrounding your profile picture. It’s called a Messenger Code. It works like a barcode or QR code. You have an inbuilt messenger code scanner running on your phone right now, in Messenger.

It could be argued that QR codes never got popular as you had to install software on your phone to use them. However with Messenger, the scanner is already there.

Messenger codes however take scanning to a whole new level. Engagement with your customer. Not just a one way, but two way and this is a very, very powerful marketing tool that is a win-win for both business and consumer. The consumer can find what they are looking for very quickly by engaging in a conversation with a chatbot and if need be, with a human. It’s about connecting business and consumer online, in real time.

Give it a try and see how this could work for your business

Open up Facebook Messenger on your phone, and click on the People icon (usually 2nd left on the bottom) and then click Scan Code on the top left. Hold your camera towards the Messenger Code above. Bring it into focus. You don’t need to click anything and once it makes connection, you should now be communicating with our chatbot.

Run out of business cards?

If you’re out of business cards and the person says, give me your details, you can use your Messenger App to directly connect with them, assuming you both use Facebook Messenger. Both of you just click on People, then Scan Code. Have them click on My Code which will show their messenger code (like ours on the right) and you click Scan Code. Hold your camera up to their code and voila, you’re connected!

The uses are only limited by your imagination

Another exciting way to engage with your customers is when they are in your store, or perhaps at a location, like a trade show where they can point their phone at a unique code which then engages your chatbot.

Print some posters with your Messenger Code and put them in places you can get new customers from. The possibilities are limitless.

Interested in having us develop a chatbot for you? You will be surprised how inexpensive they are and how quick we can create them.