If you own a growing agency, manage a digital marketing team or struggle to find easy ways to communicate with clients, you’ve probably tried a half dozen systems to make your life easier. From messaging apps to shared calendars and project management interfaces, there are lots of tools out there that claim to make day-to-day interactions easier.
Chances are, you’ve found some of them simply don’t get what you want to do and don’t have the desired impact on communication, efficiency or team performance. Step forward the chatbot. There’s been a lot of buzz about bots recently — you might have heard the word “Slack” cropping up more and more- in business conversations, and we reckon they’ll be huge in the next 12 months.
Betawork’s Pete Rojas predicts Chatbots will mean more messaging and less apps in the future. That’s no small claim when you consider that research by Yahoo!’s Flurry concludes around 90% of mobile screen time is currently spent on apps rather than surfing the net. Rojas, though, is confident. He says, “Chatbots are a bet that we are going to be spending more and more of our time within messaging apps like WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Telegram, etc and that it will be easier to access the services we want via a bot within those apps than to jump into another app or use the web.”
Of course, changing processes and embracing change takes time in any agency, and getting coworkers and clients to switch from their apps or existing systems to a new chatbot service won’t happen overnight.
The good news is that there are lots of advantages to introducing this type of technology into your digital marketing agency. You can get staff and client buy-in and encourage a chatbot culture with a few carefully chosen (and very compelling) arguments. Here’s our case for using chatbot’s to improve your team’s performance and five ways your agency can directly benefit.
1. A Bot Can Automate Some Processes – Saving Staff Time
Matt Schlicht, CEO of Octane CI and founder of Chatbots magazine, is a Forbes 30 under 30 rising star. He says, “Bots are created with a purpose. A store will likely want to create a bot that helps you purchase something, where someone like Comcast might create a bot that can answer customer support questions.”
If you apply this thinking to your agency, you can deploy a bot to automate those annoying processes that eat up valuable time each day. Mundane tasks like ordering new stationary before supplies run out, booking meeting rooms or answering common questions can all be outsourced to a bot. For staff, this means more time to focus on more important core duties and less time on the niggling housekeeping and unimportant to dos that sap creativity and dull focus.
2. Collaborating with clients becomes easier and more efficient
Some agencies have already jumped on the bot bandwagon and use tools like Slack to reinvigorate client collaboration. Lauren Johnson spoke with R/GA for this AdWeek article and found the digital agency has decreased meetings by 30% since onboarding the majority of staff and clients to their bot system.
There will always be clients who prefer in-person meetings and situations where a chatbot just won’t be an appropriate solution. Likewise, there will be lots of instances where a time-consuming meeting could be replaced with a bot session. This reduces travel time, minimizes disruption to the day and means staff and clients can get more done in the same amount of time, leading to leaner projects and more efficient communications.
3. Decisions Are Made Faster, Leading to Less Friction in Team/Client Relations
We’ve all had clients who miss important questions on emails, reply to just a few queries or are simply impossible to pin down on the phone. Slow decision making can quickly derail even the smoothest of projects. Introducing a chatbot to speed up the process can quickly reduce both team and client frustrations. R/GA estimates decisions are made 30-40% faster on its client projects where Slack is used.
Instant messaging makes it much more likely that you’ll finally get client sign off or speed up slow moving projects because there’s no need to set time aside for a lengthy call or catch-up. Think about it. It’s much easier to find time to fire off a quick What’sApp message than it is to fit in a conference call. This same thought process applies to Chatbots and live messaging.
4. Bots Are Scalable
For team members responsible for customer service, bots can mean huge changes to live chat response times and customer satisfaction levels because the answers can be scaled to deal with queries simultaneously.
Venture capitalist Ben Parr is a big fan of bots with a key reason being their multi-tasking nature. He says, “They can communicate with thousands of people simultaneously, answering their questions or helping them with their problems. With messaging becoming the preferred form of communication for more and more consumers, it’s inevitable that they will want to deal with customer service via text, iMessage, Messenger, Kik, or whatever messaging platform they prefer.”
As an agency, you might not have thousands of people wanting to talk to you at the same time, but for the customer service requests you do have, bots can mean questions and issues are dealt with quicker. This could allow you to automate daily tasks, such as providing a certain person’s extension number, rather than have a team member go into the company phone list and manually search out the details.
At the same time, a chatbot could also be assisting someone else by giving directions from the client’s location to your office for a meeting. It could provide relevant parking and public transport information and even send a link to Google Maps.
Faster responses mean better client experiences, less manpower and cost savings.
5. Internal Communications Can be Centralized
You know how it is. A deadline shifts on an important client project and you send a quick email to the team or post a note up on the project board. What if the email doesn’t get read or the note is missed? A chatbot can be used to keep your team on the same page. The team leader can message everyone instantly about the new deadline, and send a reminder as a meeting nears. The message window pops up and is much harder to ignore than an email that often gets lost in your inbox. The whole team is now back on the same page and the project back on track.
Centralizing internal communications can help to reduce friction within teams as well as enhancing relationships between members of different teams, to bring the whole agency together.
What Do You Think?
Have you already started to use Chatbots at your digital marketing agency? What challenges have you been faced with and what benefits have you observed? What’s putting you off if you haven’t yet been sold on the advantages?
Share your thoughts and comments with us below – we’d love to hear from you!