Starting a company is a crazy idea at the best of times. Nobody knows you. There is no history of your service. No reviews. No clue about what the future holds. Only 10% of startups survive. So why bother?
Most companies are born out of passion, a desire to solve a problem or a whole lot of investor money 🙂
Norskbots is all about making life easier for startups and small businesses. It’s a cliche of a sentence. So let me justify myself here. Read through some ambitious ideas and then decide for yourself if there really is enough value in what we are hoping to achieve! Brace yourself – this isn’t just a 400 word blog – this is a manifesto of an article!
- my motivation
- why chatbots
- what problem are we solving
- what makes us different
- in the real world
- the unbelievers
part one… my motivation
“Contacting a business should be as easy as contacting a friend.”
Messaging is the hottest thing in the world right now. There is an opportunity for businesses to make it easier and friendlier to communicate and I want to be part of that. I love the chatbot technology.
Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple iMessage for business, Slack, Microsoft, IBM, Kik, WeChat, Line all have popular bot frameworks. The corporate and customer world is drawing closer together through messaging. All aiming to make communication more instant and more powerful.
What about that common situation where you have been working your sales magic for twenty minutes with a customer only to be interrupted by some repetitive question about pricing or delivery or stock levels. It could be even worse – an awkward phone call that makes your customer wait around for five minutes.
Drift have created a couple of funny videos to show what that waiting looks like in the real world versus the digital world.
part two…why chatbots?
“The lines have now blurred between offline and online.”
Whatever you do on Facebook or your website reflects on the whole company. Spammy Facebook tactics. Few fans and few posts. An old fashioned or slow website. These things affect business. The problem is it may not be obvious online. We can measure our page views. But we probably don’t look at bounce rates too hard.
In the real world, a “bounce” is when a customer leaves almost as soon as they have entered your shop. Chatbots provide much more insight into these bounces. You have a chat history you can check.
What options did they check out? What questions did they ask? Did they see your offer? Whats their name? Where are they from? How old are they? What company do they work at?
All of the above is possible with a chatbot. Making your website conversational is powerful.
We want customers to experience amazing service and we want to empower independent and smaller businesses to provide it. Our service isn’t for the big corporation with a twenty person live chat sales team!
We want to create unique solutions. To really make a personal connection to the business we are building for. To understand their customers and how they communicate for the business.
part three…what problem are we solving?
Out of the four examples above – guess which page has a chatbot?! Now most customers don’t know about “bots” but they probably feel much more likely to reach out to a business that “replies instantly”.
“As a customer I hate having to wait.”
I hate waiting on the phone for ten minutes or having to call back a few times to get the right person at the right time.
I hate having to craft an email that takes time so I can get my problem solved or so that it reads well and I get a response.
I hate waiting hours for a response to a simple question.
I hate having to search a website scrolling through multiple pages, perhaps for an answer.
That seems like a lot of hate for an article that should be about goals and aspirations. But it’s worth framing it this way I think to understand the frustration that customers feel when they have an issue or a question.
Let’s look briefly at the frustrations emails and forms can bring about in the business world before I go all positive and show you what a bot can achieve for your business.
OK so that sounds harsh for something we all use a lot every day. In a world of different devices and software email continues to thrive as something that no one can own – something that works for everyone. It truly is an open platform.
But things have changed. Slack is taking over the business world and has garnered the title “email killer”. Messaging is instant and feels more natural than an email. Email has become a place of transactions and information. For instance when did you last receive an email from a friend outside of work or your partner?
Email also suffers from spam. There is so much crap marketing flooding inboxes worldwide. So much mass market emails. Nobody looks and goes “oooh lucky me an email from SAS!” Our inboxes are flooded.
So from a business point of view it can be tricky to get your message heard. Open rates hover between 10-20% in the marketing world. This is poor when considering the customer has opted in. It can’t all be your fault!
From a customers point of view, getting in touch with your business via email requires effort. They have too use a little time and mental energy to present a well written email that doesnt look rude or struggles to get the point across. Customers shouldn’t have to be authors.
I feel the onus should be on the business to help the customer. We can see how later in this piece.
forms are a hassle…
Forms are slightly better than email for businesses. They can see what page the form has come from > was it sales or support?
A good form provides qualifying options like selecting the relevant department or suggesting what information they should provide. Definitely an improvement on a blank email screen. Also the user can make their inquiry right from the website – no need to exit the browser and open their email client, copy the email address and then begin writing.
Forms usually ask for repetitive information. This never feels good. Nobody enjoys creating a username or password or filling out their phone number for the 100th time! Especially if it is a company you have already given a lot of your hard earned cash too.
Filling a form on a website from a mobile device whilst you are on the move (I mean – everyone is busy these days!) is not without is difficulties too. Forms can be ugly!
part four…what makes us different?
“Starting a company today means to build for the future.”
We cannot predict where the tech will be but we can predict that progress does not come by making things more stressful or awkward for customers.
I won’t go into all the technical details here (see our features page) but let me describe the power of bots for a business.
NO SPAM – Facebook has strict policies on sending messages through Messenger and many developers have had their bots deleted for aggressive marketing. If you want to read between the lines that means pounding the inbox with daily deals and “limited time” offers. Facebook are smart enough to know that if Messenger for businesses will work, you have to respect the inbox as your messages sit alongside those of friends and family.
NO REPETITION – Chatbots have memories and powerful ones when linked to Messenger. Your chat thread remains intact unless you delete it. It may be that one year ago you asked business x about a product for Christmas. That info will be right there when you have another question for them. Businesses can now build context and history through easily accessible chat threads. No more hunting around email folders for old messages.
1.3 Billion people are active on Messenger so you can be sure most of your customers use it. Moving sales and support inquiries from traditional email, phone, SMS and forms isn’t as big a deal as you think.
Its easy to get started. Click a button on a webpage or social media post. Search inside Messenger for the business name. Scan a code. It takes seconds to get started. No name forms to fill in. No emails to give. No waiting for an answer.
When designing a bot on Messenger we can focus on the things that that truly matter. The technical job of creating a messaging app that works at scale needs a lot of Krone to work effectively. With the Messenger platform already in place we can focus on the customer journey in an app they already know inside and out.
Some people say that building a bot has a lot more in common with writing a movie script than building an app. We have to engage the user through conversation, something that comes with high expectations.
But where there are difficulties they are opportunities. Have you ever felt that your company lacks a little personality? Do you feel like you are just blending into the background on Facebook with another update about a new price or product. Hint: some emojis in an email title won’t double your open rates.
A chatbot can be a beige neutral with no emotion. It can be purely transactional like your banks website. Or it can be your ambassador – your mascot. It can put you or your best employees personality on display 24/7 bringing good humour and kindness to the table. It can use your most successful sales pitches or your best explanations. The choice is yours.
Language is difficult. Its so much more complex than we all realise day to day. Look how difficult it is for Siri to understand the simplest of our queries. Part of the problem is they have a general goal.
Building an automated conversational solution for your business means we can be hyper focussed on your common questions. And we can train and go forward and continue to give your bot more intelligence. Natural language processing is biased towards english. We want to specialise in the Norweigan language and the local slang to help power businesses.
Support and help enquiries are important to get right for any business. Nothing kills sales than bad word of mouth reviews.
part five…in the real world
“Local businesses often struggle to market effectively.”
Social media has helped here but the scrolling behaviour in these apps means that a view, a like or a click perhaps arent as valuable as you think. Advertising to the many costs a lot of money.
With a bot you can advertise one to one. For example lets say you run a health and beauty shop. You probably know what to expect off a Facebook post or a email to fans and subscribers about a new product in store.
But lets say this is a product teenage spots or mens beards. With a good bot you could send a personalised offer to your customers that are either have beards or a teenagers! Combine 90% open rates, make it shareable and you could really get the message spread.
You dont spam them with a message that says “NEW TODAY! Nivea face cream only 399kr for the first week”. You market to them conversationally. First you ask for their permission and offer value.
“Hei Karine! Hope you had a good day – we have some exciting product news for teenagers…
want to hear it?” Tap yes or no or unsubscribe
“🕺🕺🕺kult! Nivea are excited to ship us some supplies of their new face cream. We wanted to let you know before it goes on sale next week. Have a great night! Mvh Health Store x
Links to a face scrubbing guide and a product info link are subtly added to the end of the message.
Think how personalised this feels versus finding something in a social feed!
And the best part. This is all done automatically, all pre planned through the bot. Instantly able to handle all of the follow ups or requests to buy. Your goal with the message might only be to create interest rather than a purchase. Millenials hate to be sold to in a drect fashion. Do make them say yes or no. Just keep them thinking about the value you provide
Bots are your opportunity for your company to get your message heard. 1 to 1. Dont be at the mercy of a feed and an algorithm!
part six…the unbelievers
“New tech always meets opposition.”
A new habit to learn. A new interface to get comfortable. Something different for my customers. No historical examples. So to avoid any doubts that we aren’t riding the waves of “creators illusion” lets look at common rebuffs to chatbots an explain them in a little detail.
- But I dont get enough traffic to Messenger?
Some Facebook pages, even with thousands of likes, don’t see many incoming messages – customers still use traditional methods. If you are worried about building abot that doesn’t get used there are some great solutions to promote it. The first is to make it easy for customers to get started with the bot instead of traditional ways. Include a “send to messenger button” on your support page, on your email footers and promote in social posts. You can use physical scan codes in store to get started with a conversation or even just share the URL link!
2. My customers don’t use Facebook!
Messenger has now been made an individual app that you can use without a Facebook account. So customers that want to chat with you can still download the app and get started. With 1.3 billion active users Messenger is probably on more peoples phones than you realise!
3. My customers are too old for bots!
Although chatbots are a new and emerging technology, part of the buzz that surrounds them is the ease of access. If you can speak you can use it. A well bot doesn’t require lots and lots of typing. It’s a natural way to communicate. All but the oldest of customers send SMS messages. A bot can be similarly easy to use. Also Messenger is available on the desktop inside the web browser!
4. I don’t want to give up control / I like personally dealing with messages
An effective bot is designed to compliment a businesses sales or support efforts not to replace the human element. We are a long way from having human level intelligence automated! As a small business owner we feel that our identidy is tied to everything. Some customers aren’t looking to connect, they just want their problem or question answered as fast as possible!
The job of the bot is to
a)provide instant conversational solutions to repetitive enquiries
b)route complicated requests to the right person and provide contextual help
c)make business communication more effecient and time effective
5. What if the bot is wrong or unhelpful
Thanks to futuristic movies some consumers expectations of what a chatbot can do are rather extreme. It should be made clear at the start what your chatbot skills really are. But in the case of mis understanding there should always be helpful backup solutions in place. It’s important to always have the option to link to human support.
6. Is this something else to cause me more work or manage
Time is a valuable commodity. A quality chatbot should streamline your business communications, reduce repeat queries and delight customers. It can be edited or trained regularly or at specific intervals to ensure its achievong its goals.