Automation is changing the way business gets done online. Advanced software that only a few years ago would have been out of reach for most companies is now being widely adopted by businesses of all sizes. One great example? Chatbots.
Chances are you’ve encountered chatbots in your day-to-day experience. Maybe you’ve chatted with one during a customer service inquiry, or used a personal assistant on your smartphone.
AI-driven chatbots are becoming a popular choice for software developers looking to create intuitive application interfaces, and today there are chatbots that can qualify leads, run bookkeeping tasks, and a whole lot more.
How Do Chatbots Work?
Chatbots are built using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that engage with users without the need for human guidance. These interactions might be anything from checking bank balances to circulating content on social media. Chatbots can also be used to help businesses automate important bookkeeping tasks, removing human error and saving business owners time.
Chatbots process inputs through a series of data and language processors, in which your bot cross-references key segments in the text against a collected knowledge base to “understand” the message sent by a user.
Importantly, most chatbots are designed to learn from the data they receive, rather than just perform pre-set functions. For example, an accounting chatbot will notice that you log receipts from a particular vendor a certain way, then set rules when you make a similar purchase in the future. In time, the AI that runs your chatbot will automate most tasks without human oversight, and provide valuable insights that can be used to guide strategy.
How Can Chatbots Improve Business Outcomes?
Customer service chatbots can help answer the most common inquiries, then automatically escalate more complicated problems to human operators. These chatbots are popular for companies with a lot of customer service traffic, like credit card companies and airlines.
Websites often contain thousands of words worth of information housed in dozens of verticals, subpages, blog posts, and so on. Most people will quickly scan a page for the information they need, then leave that page if they can’t find the answer.
Chatbots can help customers find their way to the right information. For retail customers, having an intrepid tour guide can make the buying process more enjoyable, not to mention more efficient.
Running a business requires a lot of rote organization and logging. Many business owners spend several hours per week getting receipts organized, tracking expenses, and following up on invoices. In recent years, the emergence of accounting bots has helped automate these processes.
Popular accounting software like Quickbooks features simple AIs that set rules for regular purchases to minimize the amount of time spent categorizing inputs. Other platforms, such as Botkeeper, offer more robust AI solutions that can automate most manual bookkeeping tasks. Versions of these platforms are available for free for small businesses. Automated bookkeeping can help cut business spending on accounting services in half.
Chatbots do more than just converse with your customers; they can be valuable lead qualification and sorting tools.
For example, let’s say “Chet” comes to your website. Your chatbot asks Chet an introductory question, then follows up with a question tailored to his response. After a few interactions, your chatbot can get an idea of where Chet is in the buyer’s journey. This information is then transmitted, along with Chet’s contact info, to the right salesperson for the job.
Apple’s Siri is perhaps the most widely adopted bot software, with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa following close behind.
Rather than providing a list of results for your search query, these personal assistant bots give you a definitive answer based on what they think you’re looking for. For marketers, there’s a big incentive to get your content into that top slot, especially as voice-activated search grows in popularity.
A lot of companies try to use chat features that connect directly with human operators. They quickly find that this tactic doesn’t scale well. Human beings can only manage so many tasks simultaneously.
Chatbots are available 24/7 for several customers at once. For companies who are looking to expand operations with limited space or budget, chatbots can help fill the gap. They can take on tedious organizational tasks, such as bookkeeping, to expedite and automate complex processes without having to hire expensive contractors.
Learn more about accounting chatbots.