What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a dialogue system that aims to mimic natural language between a user and a business when interacting on an app or website. Communication can be text or voice-based with the purpose of solving user queries without the need for a human interface.
Chatbots are pre-programmed to answer common questions and respond to specific user input. Some chatbots remain fairly basic and offer limited (but useful) responses to simple user queries. Others are far more sophisticated and draw on the genius of AI and machine learning.
They can be programmed to answer FAQs, conduct surveys, confirm appointments, or guide a user to a resolution.
The result of this technical alchemy is a quick and simple communication tool that keeps customers happy and reduces stress on staff.
What Are the Benefits of a Chatbot?
Looking at the abilities of the chatbot, the benefits tend to jump out at us.
- Available for 24/7/365 customer service
- Instant answers to customer queries
- Channel customers quickly to the right person or department
- Reduced need for person-to-person interactions
- Frees up your staff for more proactive endeavours
Chatbots on WhatsApp
We like chatbots. They’re a brilliant tool bridging the best of call center service with instant messaging’s speed and convenience. Chatbots on WhatsApp take this technical marriage to the next level with a host of advantages which we’ll unpack in a moment.
Why Choose WhatsApp?
WhatsApp has shot to fame in recent years with more than 2 billion users worldwide at the last count. It’s still growing at approximately half a billion users every two years. Today it’s estimated that WhatsApp processes more than 750,000 messages every second.
Interestingly, statistics show WhatsApp to be a popular platform for people across all ages, from 15 to over 50s with surprisingly little difference in adoption rate. This makes it a viable option for pretty much every business out there.
With the bulk of your customers making use of this ubiquitous messaging app, it makes sense to leverage it in your business. Go where the people are, we’re told time and again. And this is exactly what over 5 million businesses have done so far.
How Do I Get Started?
WhatsApp has made it easy to get started with its chatbot system. They have also included several checks and balances that businesses must adhere to and they review companies regularly to ensure compliance.
Apply for a WhatsApp Business API
The first step is to either apply for the WhatsApp Business API yourself, where you will be required to input your company details or sign up with a Business Solution Provider for integration.
WhatsApp recommends that you work with a Business Solution Provider such as CM.com. When doing so you will find that your API request is more likely to be granted, and the approval waiting time is far shorter.
WhatsApp support states that you will require:
- A Facebook Business Manager account
- A verified business
- A WhatsApp business account
- A line of credit for your WhatsApp business account
Set up your WhatsApp account by inputting your phone number and business display name which is sent off for review and approval. Thereafter you will receive your certificate and can continue to the setup.
There is a self-help guide on the installation and setup of your account, however, the technical details are outside the scope of this article.
Once the backend is configured and working seamlessly, you can dive into the exciting process of programming your chatbot.
Designing a WhatsApp Chatbot
So, you know that it’s an awesome tool, but will it work for your business? To answer this question, we’ll look into the process of designing a WhatsApp chatbot. You can then see clearly how it would fit in with your existing systems.
Before jumping on the WhatsApp wagon, you will need to clarify your business goals and determine how WhatsApp will help you achieve them.
You will also need to establish who you will be talking to, what you will be talking about, and how you can help them. Do your users need help navigating a site or a procedure? Or are you assisting them in booking an appointment or reserving tickets?
This information will form the framework of your brand-new super-system and set the tone for enhanced customer interaction.
After that, you must define the following elements:
- What business areas will the chatbot operate in?
- What languages will you offer?
- Which systems will the chatbot integrate with?
- What security features will you have in place?
A chatbot is your business mascot and should reflect the culture of your company. Do you prefer an androgynous avatar, a picture of one of your team, a logo, or an animation? What do you think your audience would respond best to
Will their tone be friendly and casual? Or does your industry sector require a more professional personality?
These decisions will form the basis of the content that you write to ensure consistent and connected conversations. An important point to remember is that you must keep it simple and concise when it comes to creating copy for your chatbot.
Communicating by using the fewest possible words is essential; this is, after all, a chat.
Defining the Chatbot Conversation
Your Business Solution Provider will guide you in setting up the conversational parameters between your business and your customers.
Planned paths (rule-based) are among the most basic yet effective chatbot options made up of a simple question and predefined answer.
For instance, a conversation may look like this:
Bot: Are you an existing member?
Options: Yes | No
If Yes, Bot: Please input your membership number.
If No, Bot: Would you like to speak to a member of our team?
The answers to the questions provided will direct the user to the next stage in the flow. Interaction is quick and amazingly simple.
Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is a more complex system whereby your bot will recognise and interpret a user’s free text. AI features heavily in these cases, and when done right, can be an incredibly professional and conversational experience. Machine learning, an essential component in NLU, takes time to optimise.
Personalisation of messages is another feature to consider. Greeting a person by name or changing the greeting based on the time of day are examples of these options. Previously defined variables can be used to further personalise communication and can include information such as geolocation, age, or buying habits.
Data model integration allows bots to access additional data such as images from a product catalogue, variable opening hours, and more.
Whatever your decision, the limits and purpose of the chatbot should be immediately obvious.
The Voice of Tech podcast says of the chatbot, “It should be clear from the beginning what it can do and what it cannot do. Starting from what is usually called a ‘welcome message’, users should be provided with a series of ‘quick replies’ i.e., suggestions on where to start from.
They could be highly-hierarchical categories (e.g., the first distinction between Information and Help), more detailed subtopics (e.g., how to know your order's status, how to get a fidelity card, how to book a table, etc) or also a middle solution (e.g., orders, fidelity program, reservations).”
Chatbots are incredibly versatile, but they remain bound by the rules that they are built on. They cannot do it all.
Therefore, bear in mind that your chatbot will encounter questions that it can’t answer or human input that it won’t recognise. When this happens, make sure that your bot is programmed to accept defeat graciously and provide another useful option for the user. The last thing we want is to place our customers in a loop of repeated questions with no solution.
Perhaps offer a human operator’s contact details or invite a team member into the chat to take over.
Things to Remember
- Businesses can only send out conversational messages to their customers once they’ve opted in.
- It’s important to note that the WhatsApp Business API requires that your chatbot hands off to a human as part of the flow. This can be done by transferring the chat to an agent or by providing contact details for escalation purposes.
- The WhatsApp chatbot may not be used for marketing or promotional messaging.
WhatsApp Bot Examples
Some pretty darn clever people out there are using WhatsApp bots to make a real difference to their business. Here’s a sprinkle of inspiration for you.
A hub for learning, sport, and fun for kids, operates a rule-based chatbot for their users. Their chatbot provides comprehensive information and gathers data on new leads; an awesome two-pronged approach.
Without leaving WhatsApp, you can:
- Learn about dates, locations, and activities of the holiday camps on offer
- Make a specific birthday party request
- Update your child’s info
- Become a referral partner
- Learn about and arrange sports coaching lessons
- Be transferred to a human employee when the conversation requires it
Another great example is SnapTravel, a travel agency that has made the leap into natural language processing within their chatbot.
Making use of AI to understand and respond to user input, SnapTravel behaves almost as well as a search engine.
Customers input their requests in their own language and the smart and sensitive bot reads and filters the information to provide the most accurate and personalised results.
With technology advancing as quickly as it is, the chatbot possibilities are endless. Once you understand what’s possible, you will find that adding a WhatsApp chatbot to your stable of platforms is an exciting no-brainer.
Rich Products Corporation Africa
Well-known food company Rich’s together with CM.com developed a self-service chatbot for direct engagement with WhatsApp users.
The CM.com chatbot is also able to integrate with Apple Messages for Business, FB Messenger, Viber, Telegram, Twitter and SMS, offering a multi-channel user engagement solution.
What Are the Best Chatbot Tools to Use?
Your Business Solution Provider will be able to assist you with choosing chatbot tools, but it is good to know what’s out there. Again, this understanding will assist you in building your own bot when you see the incredible features available.
Influencer Marketing Hub has a great article listing a host of WhatsApp chatbot tools and their features and is well worth a read. These tools below stand out as great choices.
CM.com provides a chatbot that is enterprise-ready, easy to implement, code-free and offers more than just automation:
- The low total cost of ownership
- Different user profiles
- Data privacy
- Easy maintenance
- Rich features
- Integration with popular messaging channels
WhatsApp Chatbot Integration
One of the most beautiful things about the WhatsApp bot design is that it integrates seamlessly into the spaces where it matters most. Take a look.
WhatsApp Chat on Your Website
Live chat has been available on websites for several years, but WhatsApp chat has taken this essential service to new heights. Website integration is a simple affair, routing any communication on the site to WhatsApp on a laptop, smartphone, or desktop.
Automated replies or AI easily handle the out-of-hours messages, steering them if necessary, to a human who can contact them in the morning. Your customers can’t ask for much more than that at 11 pm on a Thursday.
Actually, customer routing is a big deal and when done right, it removes the frustration of being shunted from one department to another. Customers answer a few qualifying questions via the bot and end up exactly where they’re meant to be.
WhatsApp Chat and CRM
Merging WhatsApp chat with your customer relationship management software is a match made in heaven.
Some companies have already integrated WhatsApp chat into their call centre, sales, and support software. Agents can pick up conversations from the bot which are relevant to their department and assist immediately, having all the customer information at their fingertips. Bots can open support tickets for issues that require additional input and feed this information out to all parties, logging all interactions along the way.
Integrating WhatsApp chat into a CRM removes the guesswork for businesses who would previously have had no way of identifying a customer. With a CRM in the picture, your team knows exactly who they are interacting with and can prioritise them accordingly.
Join the Move to Conversational Commerce
WhatsApp chat, when managed correctly, will undoubtedly slash your team’s communication overhead. The time and effort it takes to manage the human element of your business, that is, keeping your customers happy, is greatly reduced with the smart use of WhatsApp chatbots.
Some statistics offered up to tell us that:
- WhatsApp chatbots allow companies to answer customer inquiries 60% faster than by phone or email.
- Over 61% of customers prefer to communicate with businesses on WhatsApp.
- More than 65% of online shoppers want to use WhatsApp for service or assistance.
- Women’s Best has reportedly reduced the processing time of inquiries by 50% and its customer care team now receives approximately 70% less email since implementing their chatbot.
- BMW Munich says that around 3000 of their 3800 daily inquiries are answered by their chatbot.
Therefore, if your competitors are making use of the wonders of AI and have an engaging, personable chatbot available at all hours to answer questions or book appointments, how will that impact your business?
It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?
WhatsApp Business API opens the door for enterprise businesses to take their customer service to the next level of awesome. Working with our team allows you to move effortlessly into the realm of Amazing Businesses as we handle all the technical aspects, setup, and data compliance.
This frees you up to manage your business and your team in this magical new space where customers are always happy, and your service team loves their job!