Chatbot for Business: Complete Starter Guide 2021

Illustrator: Jana Pérez
chatbot for business

The concept of chatbots has been around for decades, though businesses and customers took some time to warm up to them. That’s hardly surprising since the first bots really weren’t that helpful. It took us some time not only to improve chatbot tech and learn how to truly leverage its potential. Hence, the experience and impact of using a chatbot for business today are much different from what they were five years ago. 

The adoption of chatbots for business has been hesitant. That is until a pandemic stormed through the world and turned them into irreplaceable assets. 

Today, more and more businesses of all shapes and sizes are reaching out to conversational solutions to streamline their processes and communications.

If you're representing a small or medium business that is considering adding chatbots to its workflow… If you're looking to understand the potential of what they can do for your business, discover how to apply them efficiently, or assess the weight of the investment, you’ve landed on the right page!

What is a Chatbot for Business, Really?

what is chatbot for business

I won’t bore you with the usual chatbot definitions. 

Instead, let me point the most important truth about chatbots and chatbot technology as it’s today: Chatbot doesn’t equal AI.

In the intro, I mentioned that a part of why bots became popular is that we learned how to use them. We understood that, unlike real conversations, chatbots have the advantage of a digital interface that can be used to enrich and streamline the conversation towards a specific goal.

Sure our understanding and use of artificial intelligence and natural language processing improved as well. But we are still lightyears away from creating software that will pass the Turing test and substitute humans altogether. Nevertheless, these advancements are mostly relevant to projects like Siri, Cortana, or Alexa.

Your business doesn’t need Siri to joke around and be your customers’ BFF. It just needs a way to collect data, offer support and do so FAST, without annoying the hell out of your prospects and customers. It requires a friendly, comfortable communication channel that provides efficient as well as instantaneous satisfaction.

Thus, in order to understand chatbots in the context of today’s business landscape, don’t think of them as artificial humans. 

Think of them as interactive digital interfaces that can help you reach your marketing, sales, and support goals faster.

Once you understand this, you’ll be able to use them to their full potential. 

Should Your Business Have a Chatbot?

chatbot for business

It’s undeniable the pressures of the pandemic put the spotlight on the automation advantages of chatbots. 

Hence the great boom of interest.

It’s important to note that adopting bots as part of your strategy doesn’t just need to be a question of, well, need, but also one of opportunity. After all, your business has survived without bots until now and probably can continue doing so.

Nevertheless, if you're after more than survival, chatbots, at the very least, do deserve your second thought. 

To resolve your doubts about whether or not you should have a bot for your business, ask and answer these questions:

What Value will the Bot Bring to your Business?

One of the common mistakes companies to do when adopting a chatbot is doing so for the sake of adopting one. Doing so for the sake of innovation, without really thinking of the actual value chatbot can bring to the company and its customers. 

Do you want to speed up lead response time? Increase pre-purchase engagement? Take volume pressure on your customer support team? Offer shopping assistance to increase conversion? 

If you're going to offer a bot, make sure it has a job and a goal to achieve and actually makes the brand experience better.

Do you Have a Specific Pilot Project in Mind?

Chatbot success stories usually start with a successful use-case-specific pilot. 

A pilot project offers an opportunity to test the bot’s potential as well as the reactions of your audience. Hence, instead of plunging headfirst into conversation-driven brand communication, take it one step at a time and ensure your foundation is not shakey. 

For example, you can deploy a pilot bot as part of a temporary lead generation campaign or use it as a support element during a specific feature rollout or system update. 

These tests will allow you to hone your bot design skills, weed out issues and make changes based on audience reactions. 

Is a Chatbot Right for your Target Group?

People of all ages are getting more and more comfortable with the use of bots. For instance, their application in the health industry during the pandemic inspired their usage among older generations. Still, some demographic groups are more likely to feel comfortable with using a bot than others. 

Though, age is not the only indicator that can influence the popularity of a bot. You need to consider your industry and use case as well. 

For example, in eCommerce retail, it’s becoming more and more common to complete the shopping transaction inside the conversation. However, this approach might not be welcome in situations where greater sums of money are involved or when more people are needed to approve the purchase, etc. 

Can you Integrate the Bot into your Systems?

When contemplating whether or not to get a chatbot for business, integrations should play a crucial part in making that decision. 

Chatbots are at their best and most useful when working in tandem with your marketing, sales, or customer database. It’s this connection that allows them to collect data so efficiently and personalize interactions in real-time. 

Having a bot operating independently is likely not worth the effort. For the conversations to have a purpose, they need to be wired into your CRM, customer order or payment history, past queries, etc. 

If you decide to get a chatbot for business, this question will inform your choice of the best chatbot software

Are You Dedicated to the Idea?

Like every new system, creating and adding chatbots to your workflow will require a learning curve and experimentations. Sure, bots can deliver exceptional results across customer journeys, but capable bots don’t grow on trees. They’re built with diligence and dedication.

Your team will need to learn to work with the bot among their ranks. They’ll need to learn to understand it, maintain it and improve it. 

Any successful automation you achieve on your first try can be improved and become even more impactful through observation, analysis, and targeted updates. 

What are the Benefits to a Business of Using a Chatbot?

I’ve already covered the benefits of chatbots extensively from customer, employee, and business standpoints in a previous post. However, it’s always good to highlight the general top five low-hanging fruits of implementing conversational marketing

  1. Real-time Data Collection & Distribution: Thanks to the interactive nature of conversations and the power of integrations, bots have the unique ability to collect and export pertinent data instantaneously to one or more software applications or databases. 
  2. Real-time Personalization: As quickly as they can collect and export the data, they can also use it to personalize the interactions or use the integrations to retrieve past data to do the same. 
  3. Response Speed: First, bots allow you to crush your response speed by resolving issues automatically without human intervention. Second, enabling users to manage their time better by assessing their problem and directing them to the right department/person or by allowing them to book a meeting/call if necessary. 
  4. 24-Hour Availability: The most popular advantage everyone knows about is that chatbots never sleep and can serve their use cases tirelessly regardless of volume,  which brings us to...
  5. Scalability: Thanks to the essence rooted in automation, bots make it easy to scale without putting too much strain on your marketing, sales, or support teams as they fend off a large chunk of the over volume, letting only the complex customer issues and highly qualified leads through to your human employees.  

How Do you Use Chatbots in Business?

Chatbots can serve your business on two main fronts: internal (employee-related processes) and external (customer-facing operations).

Internal Applications

While the conversational approach is best known for its customer-facing application, it can be extremely helpful in streamlining your internal processes:

Recruitment. Using chatbots for recruitment might not be your first thought, but its advantages are endless - especially in a recruitment climate where many applicants apply indiscriminately for any position without properly reading the requirements. Bots can help you efficiently process and assess applicants, allowing you to only deal with the qualified ones. From the applicant’s perspective, you are also improving their experience (shortening response time; personalizing the process) and so have a greater potential of attracting quality talent.

If this use case piqued your interest, check out our no-code recruitment bot tutorial!

Onboarding. After you catch and reel the talent in, you need to get them settled and trained as efficiently as possible. While the bot is not likely to cover all training, it can be a useful source of information on company culture, operational docs, team members, and their roles as well as a booking tool for training sessions and onboarding meetings.

HR. Trying to name all internal use cases one by one would make this article unpleasantly long. So, let me sum it up all under HR. You can create a bot to have a friendly way for employees to submit vacation requests, organize and inform about company events, collect employee feedback through conversational surveys or even offer judgment-free automated support on more sensitive topics. Your imagination is the limit!

External Applications

You are probably more familiar with customer-facing chatbot applications, among which the customer support use case is the most widespread. Though, reducing bots to support assistants would be an abomination as they are capable of wreaking the best kind of havoc along the entire conversion funnel and customer journey:

Marketing. The expression “conversational marketing” exists for a reason. There is a myriad of handy ways to employ bots to boost and streamline your marketing efforts, including:

  • Using chats to collect leads;
  • Creating conversational lead generation quizzes;
  • Qualifying prospects in real-time;
  • Inciting customer engagement through conversational quizzes and product promos.

Sales. The sales team can harvest its own set of conversational advantages from use cases like: 

  • Introducing and explaining product features;
  • Scoring leads and directing them on a tailored customer journey based on that score in real-time;
  • Booking sales calls and demo sessions;
  • Transferring the hottest leads to live agents instantly without a moments delay;
  • Looking up and recommending products;
  • Processing transactions,

Customer Support. While this chatbot for business application is one of the most known, many businesses fail to realize the extent of opportunities in customer service beyond FAQs. For instance, bots can be employed to: 

  • Acts as a front line to answer all the FAQs, assess and classify  the rest of complex queries, and redirect them to relevant live agents (or allow them to book a call);
  • Serve as a post-purchase how-to guide (how to install, how to assemble, how to activate, etc);
  • Collect feedback and reviews in a friendly and comfortable way on a channel most natural to the customer;
  • Handle sensible matters such as refunds and cancellation automatically but with a high degree of personalization, limiting customer frustration.  

How Expensive is a Chatbot for Business?

There is no universal price for a chatbot solution. It will all depend on your needs and preferences. In general, there are three key decisions with a significant impact on the final cost:

AI vs. Rule-Based

The first major decision to make that is likely to impact the price is choosing between an AI bot or a rule-based one. 

AI bots use natural language processing (NLP) and so allow for more human conversations. On the other hand, rule-based bots offer a more structured user experience. 

NLP bots are usually more difficult to design and can be more expensive if you decide to outsource the job.

Code vs. No-Code

You would be surprised, but these days it’s possible to build a bot without coding (even an NLP-based kind). 

Even seasoned developers often simplify their work by using low-code tools. It speeds up production and makes maintenance a much more pleasant and achievable feat. Obviously, the more no-code you go, the easier your life will be… as well as cheaper since no-code empowers you to do much of the chatbot development and maintenance yourself - or at least without hiring expensive experts. 

3rd-party vs. In-House

The third decision to consider is outsourcing bot development to an agency or doing it yourself. No-code chatbot builders (like Landbot) democratized access to conversational tech and enabled non-tech professionals to create their own bots. They allow you to keep the development in-house and under control without hassle. 

Naturally, using an agency is likely to cost a bit more, but it will also save you time and reach your goals faster, especially if you are new to bots. The price difference might not even be that great if the given agency is using a no-code tool to create it in the first place (e.g., we work with a lot of agencies who create landbots for you!).

The Cheapest or the Most Costly?

A bot doesn’t need to be expensive to be functional and successful. Hence, don’t fall prey to the notion that the more you pay, the better the result. 

No-code, rule-based chatbots designed in-house are the most economization option, one that also gives you the greatest degree of control. Even if you are after a complex bot, you can still opt for this with your team taking care of the conversation structuring and your developer of the more complicated integrations or calculations.

It’s important to consider your strengths and weaknesses and well as your needs and requirements. For instance, if you are under time strain, hiring an expert can be quite helpful. 

Chatbot for Business Examples

Just to spark up your inspiration, here are a few examples of handy chatbot-for-business scenarios:

Product Showcase (Landbot)

The bot embedded on our home page instead of the usual hero image serves a self-service product demo where you can test the experience in several different use cases:

Lead Generation Quiz (Innermost)

A nutrition eCommerce called Innermost created a conversational quiz to help you assess your health and wellbeing while collecting valuable data they use to personalize further experiences. The campaign was a huge success, with over 19k quiz completion and over 5k new leads!

Lead Scoring Bot (Landbot)

Once again one of ours… the bot on our pricing page, is a great example of a scoring bot that assesses the lead’s potential and determines further actions based on the interaction. Conversational ads can too provide inspiration when it comes to taking leads into your lead scoring bot. While the user experience is simple and straightforward, in the back-end the bot is carrying out calculations in real-time.

chatbot for business example

Chatbot for Business Templates

Curious to see and test bots in more business scenarios? 

chatbot templates

Then check out our free chatbot template library that allows you to interact with the bots you can easily and quickly adjust to your own brand and use case!