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What are bots and why might your business need them?

Are you a small business owner or sales manager who uses customer relationship management (CRM) software to keep track of your prospects? The way you do business is set to drastically change in the coming years with the rise of artificial intelligence bots.

Although bots have been around since the beginning of the internet, it's only recently they have come into more widespread use. It's the rise of mobile technology along with the increasing use of messaging apps which has seen investors pour millions into their research and development.

Advocates tell us that the future of customer service is about to be changed forever with the adoption of bots, while naysayers say they are simply another passing tech fad. Whichever is correct, it's important to learn more about chatbots and evaluate whether or not your business would benefit from using the technology.

An introduction to AI bots

Bots are programmes that are developed to mimic human-to-human conversation. Using a messenger-like interface, these bots carry out certain tasks when a customer sends information. This could range from asking a customer service question and making a complaint to ordering your products and sending their billing address.

Bots allow you to automatically provide your customers with immediate responses to their basic queries. They're gaining tractions and becoming hugely popular in messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, where there's been a rapid adoption of the service. 

From asking their favourite supermarket for recipe ideas to ordering freshly prepared pizza straight to their door, AI bots offer customers a speedy alternative to logging into a mobile site and navigating around to enter their information. If they get frustrated, there's always the option to include the ability to speak to a service rep.

What does this mean for your business?

After the initial success of chatbots within messaging apps, we have also seen the rise of their integration into CRM software packages.

In CRM, bots can be designed to ask your customer to enter their basic background information in a messenger-like interaction. Once your customer has typed in their details, such as a dedicated account number or home address, they can then be directed to a human sales agent or self-service page.

Allowing bots to interact at this stage means your account reps will have more time to create valuable and meaningful relationships with customers, rather than be bogged down with the admin side of CRM.

With more free time, integrating bots into your CRM strategy could also help you cut labour costs. While you will still need a customer service workforce that meets your needs, there's an increasing amount of job roles that could be made redundant in the future thanks to this automation.

AI bots have now reached a stage where they can have a real and engaging conversation with a human user. The bot ecosystem, while still in its early days, is becoming increasingly robust on a monthly basis. In the coming years, it's the business who are most willing and able to leverage this relatively inexpensive technology who will reap the benefits.