Bots – What Every Sales Leader Needs to Know – Now

Why you need bots

Bots. Just the words stir up fear and controversy.  Are bots the evil empire that will take over the human race? Or are they a tremendously helpful tool that can remove the redundant, repetitive tasks that our sales and customer service teams are asked to do every day, day after day, whilst keeping them away from the more creative, productive and stimulating work that they would like to be doing?

The truth is – you decide. You are leaving an impression with your customers and prospects 24 hours a day on your website. Consider this:

Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman is an expert in the psychology of judgment and decision, and his research has challenged assumptions of human rationality as a driver in economic decision-making.

He has said“Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept.”

No pressure there, right? Providing answers to your viewers when they want them goes a long way in leaving a positive impression, and to gaining new customers

Let me step back and define what I mean when I use the term ‘bot’.

“A Bot is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for  a human alone.”(via Wikipedia)

Bot technology and implementation has been evolving for several years already. You have most likely experienced one of them during your online experience.

First there were ‘Live Chat’ services like Olark, introducing viewers to the popup icon in the corner to ask a question. They work well, but required a live person to be on the other end of the computer to respond. For sales teams the challenge is your off hours, nights and weekends when many viewers are on your site. They are in a research and buying mode, click the icon, ask the question and then they see this:

Olark Later badgeEasier for the customer than sending an email but it kills the buying flow right then and there as they wait overnight or days for an answer.

Most of the time, questions your customers have are not new, probably having been asked hundreds of times. HINT: this is a strong indication that you should re-work your website to provide the answers to these questions more visible, eliminating the need to even ask.

But that is not always desired. There are industries which do not want to publish their pricing, either because there are many variables, or that it is a complex sale that requires sales interaction, or simply that they do not want to share prices that their competitors can see.

This is where the power of today’s bots comes into play.

Let me explain with a recent experience that can be used as a case study for the benefits of using a bot in the sales department.

I was having a problem with my mobile app for a social media app, a company and toolset that I recommend and have been using for years. One of the features on my iPhone app was frozen, not updating, preventing me from interacting with followers. 

I went to the company website and after tracking down the hard to find Support Desk link (in my opinion), I submitted a ticket explaining the problem I was having.  One day passed and no response. Second day passed and no response. This was during the middle of the week. The third day I had not heard anything so tweeted directly using the company hashtag. I got a response within half an hour, asking me to send my support ticket # to them via a direct message, which I did.

Within an hour, I received a clear, easy to follow step -by-step email to fix the problem, which I went through and got my app working once again. Problem solved.

Yes I was working again, but the frustration, and impression I had from this three delay fix to a simple problem was not positive.

Now let’s consider how this could have been a completely different experience if the company was using bots.

  • Go to the company website.
  • Click on the Bot icon.
  • Ask how to fix the problem I was experiencing.
  • Bot reviews my problem, identifying key words I had provided and sends me over the instructions for how to fix the problem.
  • Problem solved in less than 20 minutes with no delays. I am IMPRESSED with the service I have just received and tell others of my positive experience.

My tech problem couldn’t be the first time it ever happened. It has most likely happened thousands of times over the years. The answer is known and available in a FAQ on their site. This could have been a gold-star moment for them instead of 3 days of frustration with a product that I really like.

Should I care that I got my problem fixed by an automated bot, vs. a human? I really don’t care one bit, I just want my problem fixed. A bot would have been the difference-maker.

Let me address another concern about bots – sales people will lose their jobs.

I encourage my readers and audiences to “tech the tedious and redundant”. If your sales team is spending a large part of their day answering these tedious, redundant questions, then yes they will be put out of work. But IF you deploy a bot to do the tedious, repetitive work, how can you re-deploy your sales team to work on more meaningful work, proactively with customers in ways that only a human intellect can do? Think about the advantages in personal growth, career growth, Employee and customer satisfaction and overall profitability if your sales team is free of dealing with those types of questions.

If you are currently a sales person currently providing these services – it’s time to improve your skills and add value to your employer and your customers in new ways.

I hope I have got you thinking about how you could deploy bots in your business. There are many tools and services available to get started, whether a single entrepreneur or a large company.

To help get you started in this new thinking, I am hosting a live, informational web event later this month that will introduce you to several of these tools, many of which offer a free level to get started, along with upgrade paths for more elaborate functions. You will hear from founders of several bot companies, and learn the differences in their approach and strategy, providing you a good base from which to take the next step.

You know this is the future. You need to get up to speed and deploy as soon as you can to begin to see the benefits.

Register to attend this helpful live event and get answers to your questions and learn next steps.

I WANT TO ATTEND THIS EVENT
  • Just listened to a livecast with Mark Schaefer on Facebook, and he said that bots might just be better than humans for the customer service side of this conversation. When was the last time that you enjoyed a conversation with a human while trying to get your plane travel figured out, or your cable service provider or… Exactly my point Mark.

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