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Getting Started with Bread-And-Butter B2B Chatbots


Chatbots in B2B marketing - how to get going


Chatbots are currently a much hyped topic. Many companies and developers are searching for the ultimate use-case. Something to really start the chatbot revolution. So far, it has not been found. But the idea to use chatbots to engage with customers is very appealing.

The current situation

The idea behind chatbots is simple: build some computerized logic and connect it to some already existing  conversational platform. For example, a customer uses Facebook Messenger (or Skype, Telegram or even e-mail) to contact a business - and gets an answer from a computer program. A chatbot, that is.

Due to great technological advances in the last couple of years, these programs do pretty good in "understanding" what the user says. "Understanding" means  the program is able to extract some meaning from written language by processing it automatically. Add to this that programming the logic behind a simple bot is no longer rocket science either.

So the status is: the technological part of simple chatbots is taken care of. They are able to do some understanding of written language, they can be programmed by regular programmers and they can easily be integrated into chat platforms like Messenger, Skype and the likes.

It is now on marketing, sales, business people to find use-cases for these little fellows - even in B2B marketing. There are already some start-ups with innovative B2C (and some B2B) chatbots offering everything from financial services to medical consultation. Large brands have fancy chatbots for booking flights or sending interactive greeting cards. Non-profits use chatbots for legal counseling or crisis prevention. And that's great.

Finding simple use-cases in B2B

But how can a regular business or enterprises working in B2B make use of chatbots? I believe, it is through finding simple, easy to understand use-cases that bring an instant benefit to your customers. And once you have found them, just get going. There are not many really successful chatbots around yet, so now is the time to play with the idea and the technology.

Here are some use cases I consider worth looking at right now:

  • Customer Service: this is my favorite topic, because it applies to almost every business. Automate parts of your customer service - on your website, in social media. The same way it is already done in your phone system. Customer service chatbots do not require fancy (and risky) artificial intelligence. All they need to provide users with is quick access to the right information. Or a quick and seamless handover to a human colleague. This works as good in B2B as it does in B2C.
  • Conversational Shopping: ready-made tools like the Shopify chatbot allow shop owners to play around with shopping in a chatbot without a big investment in tech.
  • Landing pages: using chatbots on landing pages can allow website owners to implement a much better call to action than a regular registration form. Just add a simple, low-tech chatbot to give a visitor access to, for example, different contact forms or human contacts for different needs. The chatbot might even show content to the visitor that is not shown on the landing page. No huge AI needed, but this has a high potential to benefit the visitor of your landing page and increase conversion rates.
  • Product finders: a website product finder is typically a complex, not-so-fun to use web form. Why not use a chatbot to guide a user through the products you have to offer. This comes in especially handy if you have a large number of products to choose from and the normal search form has (too) many options. A product finder is more complex than the other use cases mentioned, but still no witchcraft is needed to build one.

Maybe these ideas can help you loose fear of the chatbot topic and get started with a Bread-and-Butter chatbot. Of course, the future will belong to very smart and very cool AI powered chatbots. But now is the time to start playing around with them. Some ideas will fail, but some will actually benefit your customers and therefore your business.