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How to leverage chat bots to grow your small business

Filed Under: Business | Innovation | Podcast
Date Published: July 14, 2020
By: Claire

There is a point where we realize that many of the tasks we do daily are similar and repetitive, and would like to have an assistant to help us do this. Thanks to technology and artificial intelligence, we can now use chatbots to help us in our business and start to know more about all the possibilities of these new technologies. In today’s episode, Claire will talk about everything you need to know about ChatBots and how you can start working with your own digital assistant.

Listen to find out:

  • What is a ChatBot and how is used in Customer Service and as a tool and assistant for team members.
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of a ChatBot.
  • What you can do to start implementing your own ChatBot in your business.
  • How you have to think of a Chatbot to work in your favour and with all its potential.
  • Some different ways you can specifically use Chatbots in your business.

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Transcript of this episode:

Chatbots are a great way for small business owners to take their first foray into the world of artificial intelligence. 

If you’re wanting to scale your business but don’t have the revenue to grow your headcount, adding a digital worker is a great opportunity to take some of the work away from your team, so they and you can focus on value-adding activities. 

In today’s episode, we’re going to talk a bit about chatbots, what they are, how they work, and how to use them in your small business to maximize return on investment. 

My name is Claire, and over the last nine years, I’ve worked in innovation teams across industries, including research, manufacturing, retail, and technology. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and downright ugly when it comes to innovating for customers. And now I alongside my esteemed guests, I’m sharing those learnings with you to help you avoid the mistakes and capitalize on the opportunities to help grow your business with good systems and innovation. 

This is the innovation and business podcast. 

First things first, what is a chatbot? 

According to Technopedia, a chatbot is an artificial intelligence program that simulates interactive human conversation by using key pre-calculated user phrases, and auditory or text-based signals. Chatbots are frequently used for basic customer services and marketing systems that frequent social networking hubs and instant messaging clients. They are also often included in operating systems as intelligent virtual assistants. 

Okay, so that’s the technical description, but what does that mean in practice? 

Well, I’m sure you’ve seen chatbots. You know, when you land on a website, and you have that little pop up in the corner at the bottom that says, how can I help you today? You type in what you’re looking for and then sometimes you get an answer, sometimes you get a load of junk. And sometimes you find it really helpful and sometimes they don’t work so well. Well, that’s a chatbot. And as you can tell from my description, chatbots can go really well or they can go badly. It all depends on how you set them up and making sure that they’re designed in a way that will really help your customers and help you grow. 

One of the benefits of chatbots? Well, chatbots can work 24/7, so if you’re using them to answer customer questions on your website or help funnel new leads into your sales funnel, then they work 24/7 and you can be asleep you can be out with your friends, you could just be watching Netflix and your little chatbot will be there on your website collecting leads, helping out your customers and answering questions. 

They are really great for repetitive tasks, so if you know that customers are always asking, what are my opening hours? You can respond to them using a chatbot in a way that’s like a lot easier for them than them having to search through all the different pages of your website to find that information. 

They can save your workers’ time. So people use chatbots not only on their websites but also in their customer services and in the new team member onboarding. So if you again have a series of questions, or you want to help funnel people to different resources chatbots are a great way to do this in an automated process that will save your team time having to do it manually. 

Because they’re saving you and your team time, they can be a significant cost saving. So instead of having your team spend two hours a day on customer service, you can have a chatbot do that and your team can focus instead on nurturing new leads, taking client calls, and doing the work that actually brings in the revenue for your business. 

These are some of the reasons why chatbots have become so popular and why they continue to rise in popularity across different industries. 


Now we’re going to talk about three ways you can use chatbots in your business. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, make technology a partner in your business, to help your team do more than less. It is not a direct replacement through a human being. 

One of the first ways that you can use chatbots in your business is to qualify new leads and bring new leads into your business. So when someone is landing on your website, you can use a chatbot to understand more about why they’re there, what they’re looking for, whether they’re interested in your services, you can use that chatbot to tell them more about your services, to get them to sign up to our freebie, and to schedule introduction calls with them all in an automated way. 

Another way that you can use a chatbot that we’ve discussed is through your customer services. If you have a chatbot on your website in your client area, and you know that customers are having very similar questions or having similar problems, you can use a chatbot to direct them to resources that will solve their issues or to add them into a queue to speak to a human being if the issue cannot be solved directly by the bot.

Another way that you can use chatbots is helping with your HR. If you’re a small business, you might not have an HR department ready to go to answer people’s questions. But what you can do is set up a chatbot that your team members can go to, to get information on, where they can find resources that will help them to do their job, what they need to be able to onboard different questions around benefits, for example, and some of your policies within the workplace. All of these things can be answered using a chatbot that will save you time and help you and your team members focus on growing the business before you have an HR department in place. 

So those are three quick examples of how you can use chatbots within your small business. 

The next thing I want to talk about is one that I think is super important and not enough people think about, which is how to make chatbots actually work well in your business. 

As a lot of you would know, I use a formula called DRIVE, and I use this when I’m setting up any process or system with my clients or in my own business. And the reason for this is, before you’re looking at onboarding a new technology solution, before you’re looking at automation, or before you’re looking at any kind of system within your business, you really need to think about what the problems you’re trying to solve are. 

So this is the Define section of DRIVE. A lot of people jump straight into having the technology and straight into having a standardized way of setting it up. And that’s a mistake, that’s not going to add value to your customers or to your business. You want to start with what the problem you’re trying to solve is. Think about how you want to deliver a service to clients, what does the ideal look like? And if you’re wanting to use a chatbot think about what problems they’re coming at you with, and if the chatbot is in fact the right solution. It could be that the problems are too complex and a chatbot won’t be able to answer them, it will just frustrate people. 

If that’s the case, maybe instead of setting one up to answer questions, you think about setting up a chatbot that helps people schedule appointments with you to get their questions answered.

That slight change is massively important and will significantly impact the success of the chatbots in your business. So really think about what is the problem you’re trying to solve? 

Then you want to think about how you’re going to measure success. One thing with technology and automation is that it’s not human, it doesn’t have this concept of success necessarily, and you need to tell it what success looks like. And then if it is a deep learning AI, it can improve based on that success metric, or if it’s more of a simple one -which is where I recommend that you start- you can look at how it’s performing, what the feedback you’re getting is and you can tweak your chatbot to improve it. 

Once you understand that, you want to think about what are the different kinds of questions you want it to answer? What are the different processes you want this chatbot to handle? And what the milestones are, what that looks like. Then you can think about, okay, what software do I need to deliver this and how that can be done -we’re going to talk about that a little bit more in the next one- and then of course, finally, you want to iterate, iterate, iterate until you get it right. 

The last thing I want to talk about before we move on to the end of this episode is how to start implementing chatbots. 

What I strongly recommend is that you do not try and build one yourself. Use a software company that provides and specializes in chatbots. Many companies are offering these now. Obviously, if you are an experienced programmer, and you know how to set these things up, you can build it for yourself, but at least to get started so that you can test and learn and understand works before investing in building something customized and specific to your business, you want to just have your own out of the box version that you can play with, that offers the features that you need so that you can get to the fun part of having the systems and processes automated, get the feedback that will allow you to build something really useful for your business. 

That concludes today’s mini-episode on chatbots. As I said before, they’re a great way to get you started into the world of AI. I know AI has a lot of hype for businesses and can feel like it’s completely out of reach for some small business owners, but chatbots are a great way for you to use this powerful technology and help to scale your business to the next level. 

Tune in next Tuesday for our top-up of inspiring innovation stories and techniques. We’re going to be discussing a data-driven approach to sales and marketing, which I know you’re going to find super interesting. So make sure you subscribe to the podcast on your podcast provider, so you don’t miss an episode.

Right now I’m offering free 20-minute coaching calls to help you implement seamless client onboarding and management processes in your business.