Ever since social media changed the paradigm of digital marketing and advertising, marketers have learned to set their sights on the next big trend. Over the next few years, it’s predicted that one of the main disruptors in social media and instant messaging will be chatbots.

What Is a Chatbot?

Chatbots are online or offline bots programmed to give automated and adaptive responses to improve the customer experience. Of the variety of bots now deployed on the Internet, the most common type would have to be the simple scripted bot – designed to give pre-defined responses to questions it receives.

Recent developments have also seen the emergence of intelligent bots that use AI to learnfrom the responses they’ve received and adapt to in future encounters. These are mostly gimmick bots, the likes of which include Cleverbot and Replika– emotional support chat bot.

Why Chatbots Are the Future

But the real reason chatbots are poised to disrupt business communications is because of the rise of messaging apps. According to research by Business Insider Intelligence, the top four messaging apps—WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, and WeChat—have surpassed the top four social networking apps—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn—in terms of daily usage.

There is an opportunity for today’s small businesses to futureproof their organizations by integrating chatbots into their customer support systems. Even now, brands like LEGO, Marriott, Lyft, Sephora, and MasterCard are already reaping the benefits of chatbot technology. Below are a few reasons why chatbots matter for small businesses.

  1. Round-the-Clock Presence

Chatbots will be there for your customers when you can’t be, which is most of the time. Your business won’t always be open and you won’t always be available to engage with your customers online. The thing is: customers may have questions or concerns at any time of day – even when you aren’t available or ready to respond. This means you need to be able to respond to them before they lose interest or end up sailed away by a competitor. Unless you have an abundance of publicity materials plastered all over your brand’s page, this is where your chatbot fills the gaps.

Some businesses may opt to assign human individuals to settle customer concerns online, normally as a step towards scaling up your business operations. While live support is only capable of handling a maximum of four conversations at a time, chatbots can engage with and entertain limitless customers at the same time.

  1. More Effective Customer Connection

Businesses have the challenge of establishing and maintaining connections with customers in the hope of producing loyal regular ones. For the longest time, our answer to this has been email marketing. This strategy wasn’t all that great during its prime and has steadily dwindled in impact through the years.

The practice of reaching out to customers with a chatbox, on the other hand, is only growing in access and effectivity. Despite the similarities between email and chatbot marketing, there is a massive disparity between the ways people interact with these messages – while only 34% of marketing emails are opened by their recipients, chatbots boast an 84% open rate.

  1. Their Possibilities Are Endless

Given that a chatbot is just a bunch of code and pre-defined responses to certain conditions, they can be programmed to do just about anything. This includes sending customers important attachments, online map links, catalogs, menus, and many more.

Smaller businesses with simpler operations are set to see success in using chatbots to complete specific business functions. For example, Chatbotslife developed two bots: one for a hair salon page and another for a hypothetical restaurant. The hair salon bot allowed customers to book personal appointments through it, saving human employees the time and effort for tending to such a trivial function. The restaurant bot makes life simpler for those looking to get take out by calculating the price of the total bill for you.

  1. Your Current and Future Customers Prefer Them

Younger buyers are as critical as customers can get. Having gone through the dark period for online shopping when everything seemed unreliable, millennials have learned to better scrutinize what they consume and encounter online. This segment of buyers is fond of asking several questions about a product they intend to consume, and chatbots have endlessly proven themselves to be up to the task.

Despite their name, chatbots offer benefits that extend way beyond simply responding to queries from customers or improving the way you communicate with them. They’re set to revolutionize how you deal with and improve on the customer experience and even basic business operations, and you would be wise to begin investing in the development of a chatbot for your own online pages.