Ask a mentor – chatbots for business

The information in our Ask a mentor article series is designed to help businesses better understand some fundamentals on each topic. It is not designed as a comprehensive resource or toolkit.

Chatbots are AI-powered virtual assistants that stimulate human conversations and interactions. They are reshaping business dynamics and the environment in which we operate.

Chatbots and other AI assistants can be helpful business tools that can assist with customer interactions, automation, drafting content, collecting feedback, brainstorming and web optimization.

Learn more about Chatbots for business from our Mentoring for Growth (M4G) mentors:

Watch our chatbots for business webinar where M4G mentors provide information, tips and resources to help you understand the fundamentals of chatbots and how they can be used in your business.

Amber Porter—M4G mentor since 2021

Amber Porter (M4G mentor since 2021)

Amber's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. If you are using chatbots to produce content for SEO then tread with caution as they are still new and not thoroughly tested in terms of how search engines like them when compared to human written text.
  2. Remember that chatbots have bias, the same way humans do. So, when utilising the tool for brainstorming sessions – it's best to use them as a starting point rather than the gospel truth.
  3. There is more than 1 type of chatbot so understanding which one is suitable for what purpose is important.

There is a wealth of opportunities to streamline systems and processes with the use of chatbots. In sales and customer service roles, a chatbot can reduce wasted staff time dealing with FAQs that can easily be added to a chatbot and installed on a website.

Installing chatbots on websites to answer general questions for your clients can aid in improving your perceived level of customer service. It can also filter users into the correct contact boxes (e.g. existing client versus new sale opportunity).

Connect with Amber on LinkedIn.

Angie Martin—M4G mentor since 2021

Angie Martin (M4G mentor since 2021)

Angie's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. Clear 'purpose and use case': Before implementing a chatbot, define a clear purpose and specific use case. Determine what tasks the chatbot will handle. By focusing on a specific purpose, you can ensure the chatbot's effectiveness and that it provides a seamless experience for users.
  2. Natural language processing (NLP): Choose a chatbot platform that incorporates strong NLP capabilities. NLP allows the chatbot to understand and respond to user queries in a more human-like manner. This enhances user engagement and minimizes frustration. Ensure the chatbot can handle variations in user input and provide relevant, accurate responses.
  3. Human handoff and escalation: While chatbots can handle many tasks, there will be instances where a human touch is required, especially for complex issues or personalised interactions. Implement a smooth handoff process that seamlessly transfers the conversation to a human agent when necessary. This prevents user frustration and maintains a positive customer experience.

Adaptation to changing trends: The field of chatbots is constantly evolving with advancements in AI and natural language processing. Having a clear understanding allows you to adapt to new trends and technologies, ensuring your business remains competitive.

Risk management: A lack of understanding can lead to miscommunication or errors in the chatbot's responses, potentially damaging your brand's reputation. A thorough grasp of chatbot operations helps mitigate these risks.

Integration with existing systems: Understanding how chatbots integrate with your existing systems and workflows is crucial to ensure a seamless implementation. It prevents disruptions and ensures a smooth user experience.

Customer feedback and improvement: A strong understanding of chatbots allows you to gather and analyse customer feedback effectively. This feedback helps you identify areas for improvement and refine the chatbot's performance over time.

Differentiation and innovation: Businesses that embrace technology like chatbots can differentiate themselves in the market and demonstrate a commitment to innovation. Understanding chatbot capabilities allows you to create unique experiences that set your business apart.

Connect with Angie on LinkedIn.

Brett O'Connor—M4G mentor since 2023

Brett O'Connor (M4G mentor since 2023)

Brett's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. Own all your own digital assets, including your Facebook Business page.
  2. Use the free automation in Meta's business suite before considering a chatbot.
  3. Have real conversations with real customers, then duplicate that into your chat.

To save small business time and money on ads that don't work because they don't have an effective marketing conversion strategy. If the chatbot ask the right questions, it shows you understand your customer's needs and helps build long-term raving fans.

Chatbots are just 1 of the many tools, that can also use AI, but if you don't get your business basics right first, not even a bot will work for you. If you can't tell me 5 of your best customer's names, then a chatbot is not for you. Avatars don't buy from you, people do.

Connect with Brett on LinkedIn.

Dave Cane—M4G mentor since 2021

Dave Cane (M4G mentor since 2021)

Dave's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. Seriously consider implementing chatbot of some sort as many people can't or don't want to pick up the phone to call. In many cases it is easier for a potential customer to ask a question via Chat.
  2. Have the chatbot collect name, phone and email details for your records.
  3. Chatbots can guide customers to the correct sales page to buy when they are ready to buy, 24/7.

Which type of chatbot depends on the business type and the expectations of prospective clients.

Connect with Dave on LinkedIn.

Jo McKee—M4G mentor since 2021

Jo McKee (M4G mentor since 2021)

Jo's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. Ensure you're familiar with the privacy requirements of the region you're active in.
  2. Use a simple platform and keep the flow simple. Make it entertaining and add a bit of character if your brand permits that.
  3. Ensure the data you capture is responsibly stored and take it off the chatbot platform and into your own data warehouse as you collect it, so that you have the backup.

Chatbots can provide an extremely engaging channel for your customers to interact with your brand and are extremely versatile. Think beyond FAQs and 24/7 customer support – for example, you can use them to survey customers or build lists before a product release.

The sky is the limit – if you comply with the policies. We love making chatbots with lots of images and gifs to bring them to life. We make sure people know they're interacting with a bot, but it's surprising how much information people are willing to share that is very helpful to a business in learning how to serve their customers. And don't dismiss an audience because of their age – we found an audience of retirees loved interacting with a chatbot!

Connect with Jo on LinkedIn.

Mark Jones—M4G mentor since 2023

Mark Jones (M4G mentor since 2023)

Mark's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. Research client needs to find out what information they regularly seek.
  2. Be explicit in your message (response) consistency.
  3. Make it easy for people to engage you further.

Understanding chatbots and their potential applications can empower business owners to leverage technology effectively, leading to better customer experiences, streamlined operations, and improved business outcomes. If used correctly, they empower the business owner to focus their time and energy on other growth areas of the business.

HubSpot Chatbot: HubSpot offers a user-friendly platform that includes chatbot functionality along with other marketing and sales tools. It's known for its ease of use and integration with other business processes.

When choosing a chatbot platform for your small business, consider factors such as ease of use, customisation options, integration capability with your web platform (e.g. WordPress), pricing, and any specific features you need that align with your business goals.

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

Mark Metzeling—M4G mentor since 2021

Mark Metzeling (M4G mentor since 2021)

Mark's top 3 tips – chatbots for business

  1. Customise it to your business.
  2. Ensure it is trained properly.
  3. Minimise bias.

It can substantially increase efficiency and lead to greater profit generation.

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.