Leadspeak episode 7 - The rise of chatbots

Episode 07: The Rise Of Chatbots And How To Apply Chatbots To Your Business

It feels like chatbots are taking over the world, with some even questioning whether we have real conversations anymore. But they're booming for a reason. They deliver exceptional value (when built properly) to the users of these bots and for businesses, well they generate leads, sell products, enable customer support, and improve productivity...

In this episode, you'll learn what a chatbot is, what it's not, and the types of chatbots that we (as an agency) have built for our clients. I think you'll find some inspiration in here to build your own! 

We've included a transcript below in case you can't listen at this moment in time.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • What a chatbot is and, as important, what a chatbot isn't
  • Examples of different types of chatbots that will get your creative juices flowing.
  • Questions you need to ask before starting your chatbot journey.
  • A chatbot case study - how we blew away the traditional with a competition chatbot.

Links and resources mentioned in this episode:

Thanks For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us this week. Be sure to join us in episode 8 where we will have special guest coming to join us to talk their automated sales journey (here's a hint... it's a rapid growing SaaS business).

Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below.


Episode 07: The Rise Of Chatbots

[00:00:01] Welcome to the Leadspeak podcast. With me Alex Thackray.

[00:00:17] And welcome to episode seven of the Leadspeak podcast where we'll be talking about automate sale systems that you can build into your own businesses. Who am I? I am Alex Thackray, founder of Leadfreak. Where we build automated sales systems for many different business types. We want to pass on some of the expertise and knowledge that we have to you.

[00:00:39] So thanks again for joining us in this month's episode of Leadspeak. It's me Alex, and with me I've got Emma- hello. And today we're going to be running through chatbots - one of the more popular crazes within the marketing and business world at the minute and we're going to give you the ins and outs. We're going to tell you how it relates to the automated sale systems which Leadspeak focuses on, and then were going to run through some of the chatbots that we've built for some of our clients and how successful they've been. Sounds good to me. Yep, let's go.

[00:01:18] So I was speaking at a business leaders retreat about a month ago, and prepared this whole presentation around the buyer journey, customer acquisition cost, automated sale systems. I got an email about a day before heading up to do this speaking engagement and it was: Speak about the chatbots. Show them your chatbots. Talk about chatbots. Get your chatbots out.

[00:01:50] No actually, I was contemplating just scrapping whole presentation, and start it again just to talk about chatbots. They seem to be that popular and managed to blend into the conversation because they are part of automated sale systems but it was just funny to see that the market wants you to talk about chatbots. It's not you having to sell a chatbot. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yes certainly an easy sell isn't it? In terms of you know people already want them. It's not a case of you know trying to persuade somebody that they should get one which is good but I think we probably need to start with talking about what chatbots actually are for anybody who might not actually have heard of them yet.

[00:02:32] So give me a rundown of what actually is a chatbot, Alex? I think there's a common misconception that a chatbot is just a tool to automate a conversation between a user of that chatbot and the chatbot which is kind of speaking on behalf of a business. Because it's not just about conversations, it's also about automating tasks and workflows through this chatbot mechanism. In its primary form it might be to hold a conversation with a customer to hold that conversation with the prospect someone who's engaging with what you have to offer. Yeah but these can go really deep in terms of going from a conversation to a purchase, going from someone wanting a take away to ordering a pizza and the chatbot can facilitate that whole journey. So it's not really just that chat, it's not just about the conversation. So yeah a chatbot is a mechanism to automate a journey for prospects and for clients. And what you design that chatbot to do is ultimately up to you depending on your business.

[00:03:45] There are kind of two levels of chatbots for me. One is the rules based chatbot which is where you would define what that chatbot would do based on the inputs by the user so the user clicks on the button that says a certain something and the chat bot will respond. A user would enter an input field and a chatbot will respond. But it is based on rules so if that if within that input the word girl is included then the chatbot would pick up on that and say well the rule is if girl is entered into that chatbot, I respond back with x.

[00:04:22] Okay, alright but in its absolute simplest essence, a chatbot is basically an automated computer program that will solve the problem for a customer. You just went straight off from what a chatbot isn't. And then went right into like the deepest stuff, but that's what a chatbot is isn't it? For anybody who doesn't know what it is, but you're right I think there are lots of misconceptions about what they do and what their actual purposes because there's all sorts things you can do. Yeah absolutely. Yes so I just wanted to get back to the basic on what chatbot is before you took it like half an hour.

[00:05:03] I just don't want to limit what people thought chatbot was. Because a lot of the materials you might read online talks about that conversational aspect. Yes. And if you view it in that way and you try and apply it to your business it's how can I automate a conversation between me and a prospect or a client, when actually what you should be thinking of is what journey can I put into this chatbot which removes other parts of the process as well. So if I apply it to that ordering a pizza example it's going from someone telling me they want a pizza and they want this topping and this topping and this topping, the conversation end, you send them to contact form and then they order pizza online, or give you a call - that chat bot now becomes a he wants a pizza, he wants this on his pizza, he's ordered the pizza, he's paid for the pizza, he gets his pizza delivered. Yeah. Job done, job done. Human involved.

[00:05:58] So I didn't want to limit what we thought a chatbot was. Yes. I've not really gone even to the more detailed run on this chatbot. Because you do get the AI. Because I stopped you. Yeah but there are AI based chatbots which the likes of Google are working on, which is you can type anything into that bot and it will respond based on what it has learned around that question you asked. Yes. That technology is still very small isn't it? So it's really rule based chatbots that - that's still a work in progress.

[00:06:27] So Google released a chatbot which could have conversations and it took, the chatbot took its responses from Twitter, and built this whole language for itself. Within 30 seconds it was the most racist thing on the planet. Why does that not surprise me? So they had to shut it down. So that's an AI type bot. Yeah. It learns from it's environment. Yeah. Which is much more Blackmirror rule based chat bots.

[00:06:59] You know just kind of programmed by a regular human being. That's what we're really going to be talking about in this episode. Yeah. But they can still - I mean, you know, they can still be really really good, and really really useful. But yeah to come back to what you said about different types of chatbot, even within rule based chatbots, I think there are two main types going from the informational which again is what I think a lot of people think when they think of chatbots is their customer service aspect of it. Yup. And then the actual utility which is ordering a pizza, booking doctor's appointments, booking a taxi, that sort of thing. So it's really deciding which type of chatbot and which function is the best kind of fit for your business really.

[00:07:51] Yeah, I agree. So if we just - there's a lot of let's say fanfair and attention on chatbots at the minute. But there's a reason for that. I mean if we just look at some of the success data of chatbots, Gartner says that the 85 per cent of customer interactions will be made without human involvement, and that's going to be primarily chatbot based. 80 percent of businesses want a chatbot by 2020. Again, there's this whole fanfare around it. 80 percent typical open rate of a chatbot message. It's around 80 to 90 percent. Which is very good. It's like e-mail when e-mail first arrived. And you got your first e-mail campaign issued by a company, you would open it because you don't get that many emails. Yeah.

[00:08:45] But it's not really surprising that businesses want chatbots, because obviously they remove a lot of the work. But I think the most interesting thing about chatbots to me is that customers actually want them as well? Yeah. It's not something that is being kind of pushed on them as a marketing ploy to get them to buy something, they're actually genuinely useful for the people on the other side of it as well.. which is why I think there's - or at least part of the reason why all this kind of hubbub around them is that they actually do improve businesses, services, whether it's customer service or whether it's you know - actually performing a function. So that's what's really exciting about them I think. Yeah.

[00:09:27] And again - I think for me there's a few reasons why that engagement is so high. One is new tech, so it is still in a word you know, novel. In a word I'm sure people wanna talk to a robot and see how well it handles the handles. They tell it to them. They give customers what they want at that moment in time so will be performing a function and they will just perform that function. It's not like they're going to be waiting on a phone call for half an hour because they've got a query to ask, that chatbot will instantaneously, if its programmed that way, to deliver the answer to that problem. Yeah, which is great for you know - from a customer service perspective this is that yes it's instantaneous and it will do purely what you ask it to do without any kind of bias or hidden agenda or it's much less likely to make errors if it's programmed correctly. And then for me as well, they're just convenient. They're on 24/7, and you can access at any point in time, it puts that convenience back onto the user rather than making myself available to the convenience of the company I want to speak to. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:10:54] Okay so you are getting more into specifics now for what types of chatbots there are, and what chatbots can actually do both for businesses and customers. And what are some different examples of different types of chatbots, how they can be used, and what specifically they can do.

[00:11:12] So the first one for me and it's one that we use at Leadfreak very successfully is lead generation. We can interject into that customer journey at any point in time with our leadgen chatbot - where that chatbot specifically asks, and we will link back to empathetic marketing here, that chatbot asks you what your challenge is, so you speak to the chatbots specifically around your challenge, and then it books at the end of it - it books a meeting into our calendar, so we can have a strategy call with that person. So very cold prospects or wherever they are in that journey they can book a call through our chatbot. And that's primarily positioned on the headline of our homepage. You can find it. If you go to leadfreak.co.uk, that button will be there to book a call, and that will open up our chatbot, and it will start talking to her on our website.

[00:12:11] Great. It's like I don't know that it exists. Sounds good. I'll be sure to take a look at that. Yeah there's quite a lot around now actually some are getting quite high profile there's been a couple that I've noticed and so one is from H&M that kickbot. So basically it's a chatbot that helps you to find what you're looking for in terms of an outfit from H&M which is really cool actually because you can tell it what you're looking for. So if you're looking for like a red dress or something. But it will also offer you kind of add ons as well so it might suggest like some shoes that go with the dress or an accessory, and it kind of gets to know your taste as well so it'll kind of give you several kind of options of outfits and you have to say kind of which one you prefer.

[00:13:10] And from that, it kind of like learns what your style is say that it can make suggestions which is really cool because it's kind of that personal shopper feeling but without kind of the awkwardness of having like a human because you know obviously like a human sales assistant you know they're selling to you because they've got to make an upsell like they've got to meet targets whereas a chatbot is kind of - has no ulterior motive like it's just programmed to try to find new things that you like which is really cool and so there's loads and loads of different things that you can do with chatbots and this unlimited ways you could use them for your own business as well.

[00:13:52] I think for me one of the big ways that you can use a chatbot for business not it's moving not away from leadgen, but is customer support. For me is a really quick, easy, and cheap way to provide support to your customers who might have, you know, you might get asked the same questions again and again to clients and you can address those through through the chatbot. So ultimately your customer service capabilities potential is huge through through chatbots, without having the cost of having someone sat on a forum or someone sat on a live chat.

[00:14:34] Yeah, definitely..from a business perspective,it massively could increase like employee productivity. In terms of you know them not having to answer question after question after question, same question again again and again. A chatbot can do that and not complain about it and can do it it can do you know what we see like you know several hundreds of different customers at once as well rather than just kind of cycling through them so that's you know a really good way that that business can use them to not only kind of really help their customers, but also really help their business and their employees and everything.

[00:15:18] So thats why its going to be a double hitter in that sense and it really helps both. And again going back to its not just a business, it's not just the marketing department of a business pushing chatbots out these are like a reciprocal demand. It is demand from the user to have that convenience as well as it is a such a benefit to the business as well. Yeah, definitely.

[00:15:40] We're building some really cool ones at the minute. So we're building one for a national estate agency where we're going to start pulling in property portfolios into a chatbot based on what it is that that user wants to view, which is really quite clever. Yeah, sounds good. Because we're really going to do it in two different ways aswell, one is the more formal typical estate agency route and one is a bit left field, a bit of a new experience for those users. So really excited for that. Yeah yeah definitely.

[00:16:16] So how does this all fit in with the world of automated sale systems? Because obviously Leadspeak is is really about that. That's what we kind of focus on. How do chatbots fit in to that world?

[00:16:30] I think it fits in two ways. One is it's across the board. You can view a chatbot as you can an email as email is a communication platform with a contact. Chatbots are also a communication platform with your users. Some of the certainly the platform that we use to deliver Facebook chatbots is you can broadcast messages to your chatbot audience to get them to then engage back in with your chatbot. So it gives you the ability to communicate into someone's smartphones from that platform. Much like you will be able to do with an email. Yeah.

[00:17:16] So yeah, communication platform is one that it fits into the online sales system so that can fit at any point in that journey. Where you would employ email, you can now employ chatbots.

[00:17:30] The second one for me is as a way to deliver value. Because these chatbots are really quite clever in what you can build into them to deliver value. So we would deliver incremental amounts of value across that value journey, across that automated sale system, and we can actually deliver that through the chatbot. So if it's a download right at the beginning of the journey we can deliver the download through the chatbot followed by the indoctrination series that we would generally employ. We can deliver video content, we can send them links to access all the things, we can sign them up to webinars and deliver webinar reminder messages throughout before that webinar kicks off. All part of what that system might look like right now and we can also then link it through to calendar booking so we can book those prospects to book a call as part of their journey. So they can fit both ways and in many different ways as well. Yes.

[00:18:33] So basically they can be used all the way across that yeah. In its simplest form again, yes. It can fit anywhere within the automated sales system. Great.

[00:18:47] So let's now talk about how our beloved listeners can implement their own chatbots for their businesses. Wow. Okay. Yeah. Because I think it's really important to talk about it from a practical perspective from other people. So well and good - us talking about how they can be implemented into automated sale systems. Yes but I think the real question people are asking or one should be asking is how they can use chatbots within their business because pretty much all businesses can make use of chatbots now. It's not a case of would it be useful? It's more of a case of how one could be useful. So the number one thing is is really going back to knowing your customers. So you have to have a really good idea of who your customers are so that you can know what kind of main kind of key thing you can do for them is using a chatbot. So what problem can you solve for them what do they want answers to immediately. Because once you know that, that will kind of give you the reason for you having a chatbot and that will kind of give you the function of your chatbot basically.

[00:19:56] I think in the initial period when you start this chatbot journey you want to really quite specific what that first one does because obviously these are things that get developed over time. You want to focus on the quick wins. So what can you deliver through chatbot relatively quickly that is going to deliver the most value to the people you want it to - Yeah, exactly and keep it really specific as well as one key task or one key kind of piece of information that your chatbot will provide basically 'cause like you say you keep building on them they're the kind of thing that take continual work to get right and you can add to them and create new ones or whatever, but you want to start really simple to make sure that you do a really really good job or your chatbot does a really really good job of doing one thing rather than it tries to do several things and is massively frustrating because it doesn't really work.

[00:20:53] Yeah so action for our listeners. What do your prospects, what do your customers need in that first instance that you can deliver lots of value through chatbot. Is it booking a meeting into your diary, is it answering the same old questions that they seem to be emailing you every day.

[00:21:16] The next thing to think about is where are they. Where are your customers - on what platform? So what that does is - it changes on what platform you might build a chatbot on how you would interact through that chatbot with those users. Yeah. Because there's no point in building a chatbot that works on a platform where your customers don't hang out online basically. Because it might be easier. Yes exactly. You know it's great to have one on Facebook, but if they're not on Facebook then there's no point in having it. Same thing with you know all sorts of things. Absolutely. So where are they. Where are your customers and where are they going to be located.

[00:21:53] We talked, we mentioned earlier about the convenience factor of chatbots. So what would. What they're able to do is to hold that conversation without them taking them away from the platform they are on. So bear that in mind when choosing where you want to put this chatbot. Yeah, so yes for that to work you want your chatbot to be on the platform that your customers are already on you know you don't want them to have to download an app or a messaging platform - just to interact with your chatbot. Because they're not gonna want to do that in the first place. So they'll quickly gonna lose interest in it. It has to be somewhere where they're already hanging out basically.

[00:22:32] And also you have to really know, really really in-depth, even more so about your customers than than some of the other things we've spoken about even in terms of you know content marketing and all that stuff to a certain degree. You really need to know chatbots how, how your customers actually speak, because it's a conversational platform. So your chatbot needs to understand your customers problems and questions in the way that your customers face those questions as well.

[00:23:04] So you really kind of have to to know really deep what kind of language your customers are likely to use and how they want to be spoken to - say that you know, you can have that kind of as seamless as possible conversation between a customer and your chatbot which is really interesting actually because it's not really, I think chatbots they sound like they're really technical and they are to a degree but actually in terms of the actual building software that's out there where you can build chatbots it's not actually, you know you don't have to know how to code or anything for a lot of them. You have to really know about the art of conversation so you have to be able to build those conversations and kind of second guess and interpret how that conversation will go for it to be successful. It's not a kind of a technical question, it's more conversational which is really interesting.

[00:23:58] As our Creative Director that challenge of having, writing copy that is conversational rather than writing copy that might be used in blogs, used for selling pages used across the website, is that a challenge? How difficult is it to write in that conversational mode?

[00:24:20] It's difficult to an extent - it becomes easier the more you know your customers I think. But I think the reason why chatbot conversation is such as level up is that obviously in a blog post, you're writing conversationally because you want it to appear more as a conversation. You know than just you kind of doling out a load of information. But whereas with a blog post, you're writing without a conversation necessarily happening. With a chatbot you have to figure out how you think somebody would respond to what you say and then how you would respond back to that. So you kinda have to make up the whole kind of conversation in your head and know exactly how your customers are going to respond to that. Which is the big difference I think. So it's always difficult to make sure that you're speaking in the right tone of voice.

[00:25:18] But obviously if you do your customer personas and you know your customers really well it becomes a lot easier and when you kind of find your voice as well that chatbots is just that it's just that whole new level basically.

[00:25:30] So I don't think there should be anything stopping you from starting that chatbot journey. It is accessible as a technology. Yes definitely. For anyone to start to identify how they might deliver value through chatbot. So just to round off this episode I think we should probably give some examples of the chatbots that we've experienced and we've built. Yeah. Just to show what is possible, and some results- inspiration yeah.

[00:26:03] So I think one that I'd go back to again and again because for me it was one of the first ones we did and it really highlighted the success that a chatbot could have was, one of our clients they are a steak restaurant. And every year they run this annual burger design competition for their menu. So the winner gets a free meal for him and all his friends. Then the burger goes into the menu for the remainder of that year. So the initial system was that this competition is advertised on social, and it's advertised on the website. You go to the website, you read the rules, you email you're design of the burger through to this restaurant, and then they would collect all these responses. It was very clunky.

[00:26:51] It was taking a user from many different platforms. It was really putting the onus on the owners on the user to be really really desperate to win this burger design competition. Yes. I mean you have to be a real burger fan to go through this whole journey, and we just - So we just redesigned the whole thing we just said look this can all be done through a Facebook Messenger chatbot. Mm hmm. So we pulled it across.

[00:27:20] We created an ad which linked, automatically opens messenger and kickstarts the whole competition chatbot. We took the user into the kitchen and the restaurant, and we were conversing as if we were the chef. Yeah it was a really good conversation wasn't it? I think any sauce with that that sort of thing which made us much more interesting way to enter competition and so much easier. Absolutely . So we had images for inspiration about what different ingredients we went. We took people through a 10 step ingredient adding conversation because it was up to 10 ingredients and then, at any point after two ingredients they could bow out of designing in their burger 'cause it was perfect. They then got to name their burger and submit their contact details.

[00:28:10] You know we went from - in the same time period that they ran the email site - email based competition where they had six entries over three weeks, within three weeks with the chatbot. Same ad spend, no difference there. We had 112 entries. It actually - it was almost too much work for the restaurant to actually review all these designs but it just shows how successful that was. Yeah definitely. Yes that's awesome.

[00:28:38] We didn't win. We entered a Leadfreak burger but we didn't win. I wasn't aware of this burger, I would have won if I had done that. And it's making me really hungry because it's about lunch time now. Yeah. All I want is a burger.

[00:28:53] We've already touched on you know that the simplest of meeting booking chatbots that we've got at Leadfreak. And basically that's why it's was so we ask the problem basic question of what's your biggest challenge so that we can converse with you around that problem. Going back to that empathetic marketing, look back at the previous podcast episode because we go right into depth on empathetic marketing and how important it is and then books a meeting. So it's pretty simple straightforward but you know it works.

[00:29:21] Yeah and it's just so much quicker in it's instantaneous isn't it rather than emailing for a meeting time or talking on the phone and set to two calendars to find something that works for both. It's such just an automatic completely easy way of doing it and it just removes all those barriers to people actually bothering in the first place and then obviously it from a business perspective or an employee perspective takes off that kind of admin involved in answering phone calls manually searching and calendars confirming time. For me and certainly in managing that calendar it's a case of having to go backwards and forwards with someone. There's only a certain number of rapport that can be built in that process before it becomes a frustration. Yeah, exactly. No one likes to be in the back and forth meeting organizing. Yup, exactly.

[00:30:10] I've also touched on it in terms of the event registration. Any event registration whether it's - we've built one for webinar registrations. Where you would sign up to a webinar, it logs you into the system, and then you get your reminders before that webinar kicks off and then you get the link through to the Webinar. But if you amplify that, you can do that for any event. You can do it for a conference event. So you sell a ticket through a chatbot. You then get reminders and promotional stuff before the event actually happens.

[00:30:41] You book an appointment at a doctors - you can get your reminders, confirm that you are going to be attending before the appointment actually takes place, anything regarding appointments and events. You can have an excellent chatbot which is going to really cut down on that human work at least that's involved. Yeah definitely and those ones are even reasonably simple to build aren't they? It can make a really huge, really kind of quick difference to both your customer service from a customers perspective and also in terms of hearing productivity or your employees productivity as well.

[00:31:17] So most businesses I think often you know most businesses that deal with customers in any way will have some sort of booking that they need to do. So it's a really good. It's a really good way of taking care of that. And then like we mentioned before we've built a few chabots now which is you know just value dropping.

[00:31:37] You go through a sequence. You sign up through a campaign, you go through a sequence of conversations talking about your problem and you know what solution you're trying to find and then the chatbot will drop on a daily sequence - almost like an email - a daily email. But you can do it a daily chatbot drop with a video - which educates your leads as they move through that journey. And at each point in time, you can move across to booking a one to one session.

[00:32:10] And obviously we've done the Ecom chatbots which is you know being able to buy through chatbots. Yeah. It really like personalizes it doesn't it? You don't have to like scroll through page of products looking for the one you want. You don't have to scroll through a page of F.A.Q's looking for your specific question. You literally tell it what you want or ask it what you want to know and it will just be right there rather than you having to kind of scroll through a generic list of everybody's problems. Every single product that you'd want to buy which you can bring that back to almost empathetic marketing in the sense of you're purely solving your customers problems and making it personal to them as well.

[00:32:54] Which is why chatbots can be so effective I think because it's not necessarily, They're massively massively helpful to businesses in terms of you know improving your reputation and improving your productivity but it's really about the reason they do that is because it gives your customers what they want and that's the whole point of it really. It really is personalization at scale.

[00:33:22] I think again just to finish off the one thing I love about chatbots is just how creative you can be with it. It's like nothing is out of bounds with what you could do. Yeah if you can hold that conversation on a one on one environment, you could almost pull that conversation into it.. Yeah yeah. It's a really exciting exciting technology. Yeah it is. I mean we've given a few examples of how we use them and what you can do for your own businesses but we could just go days and days about what ideas can come out with this. It's such an excellent and exciting - but yeah the possibilities are completely endless, aren't they?

[00:34:00] So I think that just about rounds it up for chatbots in this episode of Leadspeak. Yeah I think so. Make sure you join us next time, we're going to have a special guest on the podcast - a special guest. We're not going to tell you who it is - make sure you tune into our social media pages. So it's Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram. You'll find us there. And we'll be announcing very soon. Sounds good to me. Very exciting. Well guys thanks for listening, and we will speak to you very soon. Bye bye.

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