Seth Bronstein

Why Chatbots Work: Tips for Top Customer Service

robot in speech bubble

Back at the start of computer AI, things were a little more clunky, and a lot more sci-fi feeling. But over the last 50+ years, since the time when the first chatbot name ELIZA was developed, artificial intelligence has definitely come a long way. 

What used to be simple question and answer-type computing has now evolved to something almost human-like. Enough to make some of us do a double-take at who/what we’re really chatting with. 

Did you know that 84% of customers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer experience? That can feel like a lot of pressure to get it right. So let’s get down to what makes a good chatbot, and how employing one can improve your brand image. 

What do consumers want from an AI Chatbot?

We as consumers can be quite fickle these days. New trends in shopping can seem to appear overnight, but can also quickly die out. Audiences can switch focus on what entertains them, where they find their news, and how they research brands and topics on their radar.

But not all is lost, because there are plenty of noticeable consumer habits that are predicted to last (at least in some iteration) for years to come. Things like monthly subscriptions, digital shopping, grocery deliveries—all amplified by the events of 2020—have become fast habits for many households. 

Consumers need a chatbot that can help them with these tasks. When a delivery doesn’t come as planned, they have questions about what they received. Many consumers look to chatbots as an updated form of a website’s Q&A, but others need support with more nuanced issues. 

Utilizing a system that can help with all of these things is key. Especially options that allow for a human customer service representative to be called into that chat as necessary. No one wants to be going in circles with automated responses that aren’t solving their problem. 

Do you have a chatbot incorporated into your site? The best way to know if it’s providing proper CX is to try it out yourself from time to time. How does it handle conversation? Did you get your answer in the least amount of steps? How easy is it to access a customer service representative? 

Facebook chatbots, and other social options

The other major thing to consider with chatbots, and really all customer service, is how they may differ across all the platforms your customers are using to interact with your company. Do you have Facebook or other social accounts set up? Does your website chatbot integrate with these channels? 

In addition to a chatbot service, it may be valuable for your company to utilize a dashboard-type service for the backend that allows you to aggregate all of the platform messages into one place. These types of services allow you to give a unified front.

Many of these aggregate platforms can save money by employing AI of their own. One computer system can organize chatbots and customer service representatives together, and determine what an incoming message needs before handing it over to the correct area. 

Although chatbots are computer systems ready to spit out planned answers, they can still play into how customers view your brand on a human level, just like the stat we shared at the start of this article. Chatbots can be used to save customers time, help them find answers more quickly, solve their problems, and move them along to customer service associates when needed. 

Choosing the right chatbot

As with most things, finding the correct chatbot platform depends on your needs. Website traffic, customer interactions and budget all play into how robust of a service your company should use. 

For larger companies and ecommerce sites, running several platforms with customer interactions, a premium service like Botsify is a good option. They can connect to multiple platforms to help customers in a variety of aspects to simplify customer service.

Another great option out there is Freshchat. This company provides multiple tiers of services, including a free trial, which can really be useful for a growing business. Every tier has slightly different levels of support, and can be increased as your needs grow without the trouble of changing chatbot companies. 

Chatfuel is a third, and possibly more cost effective option of the three. The benefit to this platform is they have a free option for those needing only basic support, but also options to scale up to paid plans if desired. 

How you utilize your chatbots may differ depending on your customer needs, but the one thing that should remain a priority: how your offerings can save them time and hassle, and keep their customer loyalty strong.

It’s 2021, Is Your Website Still ADA Compliant?

When building a website a lot of the focus goes to design, business needs and user experience. But beyond the things that are easily “seen” on a website, it is also important to think about less obvious needs, like ADA compliance. While it’s useful to consider compliance when building your website, it’s imperative that ADA solutions are monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure things are up to a standard that meets user needs. 

ADA Compliance Basics

Unless you work very closely in the world of digital ADA compliance it can be a tricky thing. The ADA basic standards say that a website needs to be accessible to people who have disabilities, including hearing, vision or physical capabilities. These things range from using properly contrasting colors to readable fonts to alternate text for images. 

The tricky part comes because of so many nuances to websites, and business needs, making it hard to know what does or doesn’t fit the standard.

Tools to Check Compliance 

There are a myriad of digital tools out there to assist in checking and keeping your website compliant. These are a few we use for different aspects:

  • WAVE: This application should be used on a regular basis. It provides a manual scanner plug-in on your browser that allows you to scan any website to check for compliance and callout where standards are missing. The benefit is that it simultaneously scans for errors while letting you evaluate the page yourself. 
  • JAWS: The acronym stands for Job Access With Speech, and is a screen reader which helps you view the website as someone with an impairment. This should also be done on a regular basis, but not necessarily as often as a manual scanner like WAVE. 
  • accessiBe: The benefit of a tool like this is that it works as an overlay to your current site. Basically it adds a button to the corner of your website that anyone can click on to help navigate according to their needs. When selected, the overlay will change your website to meet the settings chosen by the user. While this can be a benefit for companies who have restraints on their website updates, there are critics who say using it can make you a target for those looking to serve non-compliant lawsuits. 
  • Siteimprove or Pope Tech: Both of these tools work in similar ways. For monthly or annual fees they will automatically scan your site on an ongoing basis and alert you of any problems they come across. This is a great solution to keep an eye on a constantly-evolving website, but does not completely negate doing manual scans with tools like WAVE and JAWS. 

Accessibility Statements

Beyond checking that your website is up to ADA standards, having an accessibility statement on your site shows users that you care about accessibility and about them. It helps make your site more navigable as well.

A good accessibility statement should contain, at minimum, the following items:

  • A commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities
  • The accessibility standard applied, such as WCAG 2.1
  • Contact information in case users encounter problems

In addition, we recommend the following information be included as well:

  • Any known limitations, to avoid frustration of your users
  • Measures taken by your organization to ensure accessibility
  • Technical prerequisites, such as supported web browsers
  • Environments in which the content has been tested to work
  • References to applicable national or local laws and policies

When to Assess Compliance

Because websites are fluid, and can have small changes made all the time, most websites can’t be 100% compliant. The idea is to be as compliant as possible. This includes doing regular checks with the tools we listed above, and keeping communication lines open so that users can callout problems they may have. 

When problems arise, either from user feedback or regular scans, a plan should be in place that allows updates to be made within a 60-day window. Taking these steps helps ensure your website is a complaint as it can be at any given time.

How to Get More Views on YouTube

youtube tv

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google itself, and caters to 2 billion monthly users. This makes it the second most-preferred platform for watching among 18-34 year olds, with 70% of views determined by YouTube’s own recommendation algorithm. Sure, not everyone has the need to start a YouTube channel, but the numbers are pretty compelling if you want to get your brand in front of that audience. 

While search priority can be divided into two basic factors, engagement and SEO, there is a lot that goes into the YouTube algorithm to push videos in front of viewers. Understanding these needs can put into place a strong strategy for your channel, and help determine what videos should be created and shared for maximum return. 

Your audience & competition

One of the first things for any advertising platform is to define your audience. Although YouTube is no different in this aspect, because it is a social platform the landscape of competition can vary. 

Take for example a food brand. While they may be competing against other food brands during a TV commercial or magazine ad, on YouTube their videos are competing against thousands of professional cooks and at-home makers who are all vying for more viewers and subscribers. Researching and understanding every type of competitor for your business can help you understand what content is already out there, and what part of that engages your audience the best. 

Analyzing ranking & engagement

As we mentioned earlier, ranking can really come down to two things: engagement and SEO. YouTube wants to give fresh, exciting content to viewers that they’ll want to watch, and using a complex algorithm is how it is determined. While views is the top determination for their algorithm, followed by likes and subscribers, every element can play a part. Here is a breakdown of things to consider:

Engagement

  • Individual videos: While video views is the number one factor, YouTube also takes into account likes/dislikes, comments, video duration and estimated watch time. 
  • Full channel: Other factors include overall channel views, average views per day (channel and video), subscribers and channel comments. 

SEO/Technical

  • Keywords: Research should be done to ensure the best keyword match and amount for titles, descriptions and tags. 
  • Length: Length of any copy areas, including descriptions, tags and titles for channels and videos can also play a role in determining ranking.
  • Power in numbers: The number of domain links, embedded links, channel videos and days since publication are all accounted for in YouTube’s algorithm. 

Increasing subscribers & views

While video views are the most important factor for YouTube, for new players in the game other things need to stay in focus to get that viewership up. 

Things like paid media, contests, website embeds, links from other social platforms or partnerships can all help push viewers to your videos without YouTube’s algorithm helping out. Once on your channel or video, it’s good to crosslink to your other content with end cards and thumbnails; or simply asking viewers to comment, like and subscribe can increase viewership organically. 

Another important aspect is to stay engaged as a brand, to really build a community with your viewers. Viewers and subscribers will notice if you’re always asking for comments but never giving responses in return. 

Here are some questions to ask to keep engagement top of mind:

  • Do we have a face for these videos?
  • Are we communicating with our audience/asking for feedback in comments?
  • Do we ask viewers to like/subscribe?
  • Are we talking about future content to get subscribers coming back? 
  • Have we found partnerships with other channels/influencers? 
  • Are we consistent with content/showing things subscribers want?

Nurturing engagement requires developing a community of loyal return visitors, meaning that strategy and questioning should be constantly reassess. Top YouTubers don’t stay at the top without keeping attune to their audience needs, analyzing their channel and video analytics, and making changes as needed. Keeping on top of these things will help your brand presence grow on YouTube, keep subscribers engaged, and help the platform share your content with new audience members.

How to Find and Reward Loyal Customers

A graphic representation of customer loyalty, using a present, heart and magnet.

Loyalty programs for CPG brands are nothing new to marketing, but adding strategic digital aspects can be one of the greatest ways to reward your biggest fans. And in turn these loyalty programs can create a solid customer base ready to connect with your brand in a positive way.

There are some well-known loyalty programs out there, that operate on the simple process of offering coupons in exchange for shopping data. Think about past programs like Campbell’s Labels for Education, or the currently running General Mills’ Box Tops, which reward customer loyalty by giving to schools. There are also third-party programs like SavingStar, which give coupons and offers to frequent shoppers.

While these are great ideas on their own, taking a full strategic approach on how to best acquire, connect, and grow customer loyalty can really bring your brand forward.

Seek Strategic and Ye Shall Find

Customer data can come from a variety of places, from product giveaways to user-generated content to deep-dive info sessions. What works best for your brand really means taking a look at what your customers want, and giving them something of value in exchange for information. Knowing what is valuable to them in the exchange is as much strategy as any other part. If the barrier to entry is too high (think long survey) you risk losing potential customers, but if it’s too low (only asking their name) you may not get the information you need to really connect.

The Chance to Make a Good Impression

A common first data step is to gather a customer’s email address. This is relatively easy for someone to give, and produces an opportunity to communicate and gain more information later.
Frequently brands gather info but don’t use it properly. There are so many opportunities to connect with a group of people interested in your brand or product, and all you need to do is set up a series of automated emails to send them.

These emails can be scheduled to deploy based on certain criteria (new sign up, if they opened or clicked on a previous email, etc), and should always be used to give your brand the best foot forward. Use these emails to connect with users, help them get to know your brand, and set expectations of what they will gain from future emails.

Monitor, Reach, Repeat

Collecting information can come from the customer without them doing any further work. Data can easily be pulled based on who opens emails, clicks links, returns to your website. And this statistically-driven data can be used to find lookalike audiences: potential customers that are highly likely to connect when they find your brand.

In addition to increasing your audience through lookalike advertising, monitoring engagement can help your company update and increase reach to those you are already communicating in. Insight can drive future ways to engage even deeper with your customers. Would they be willing to share demographics, interests, or places they shop in exchange for other rewards? This information will give you insight on where products can sell, what to promote and how to speak to customers.

Reward Customer Loyalty

As we stated in the beginning, people are willing to give more to a brand if they know they’re getting something in return. Focusing on the exchange is important at the start, but it can be equally important to remember as a long-term plan to keep customer loyalty.

When you know more about a customer you can connect on a stronger level, and you will be provided with small opportunities to surprise and delight your audience. Birthday emails are maybe the most well-known tactic for brands, but it’s equally as nice to send special offers or simply tailor the email messaging to their preferences. For example, a food brand could do a survey about lifestyle and diet preferences, after which they are able to send out emails tailored to different subscribers.

Customers these days have very strong opinions about companies. They think about the connections they make and they want to feel good about their choices in more aspects than just the brand’s offerings. Loyalty programs can drive sound data for your company, and allow the messages you want to not only reach the loyal customers, but build on that loyalty for stronger brand connections.