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 designed 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 to mimic human conversation.
They can be programmed to answer queries, FAQs, conduct surveys, confirm appointments, or guide a customer to a resolution.
The result of this technical alchemy is a quick and simple automated communication tool that keeps customers happy and reduces stress on staff.
What Are the Benefits of a Chatbot for Business?
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
- Guide 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 centre service with instant messaging’s speed and convenience. A WhatsApp chatbot takes this technical marriage to the next level with a host of advantages which we’ll unpack in a moment.
Why Choose a WhatsApp Chatbot?
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 of all ages, from 15 to over 50s with surprisingly little difference in adoption rate. This makes WhatsApp a viable option for pretty much every business out there.
With the bulk of your customers making use of the WhatsApp messaging app, it makes sense to leverage WhatsApp 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 with WhatsApp Chatbots?
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. WhatsApp reviews companies regularly to ensure compliance.
Apply for the WhatsApp Business Platform
The first step is to either apply for the WhatsApp Business Platform yourself, where you will be required to input your company details or sign up with a Business Solution Provider for integration.
However. WhatsApp recommends that you work with a Business Solution Provider such as CM.com. When doing so you will find that your WhatsApp Platform 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 with 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 your application is reviewed and approved, you can start using the WhatsApp Platform and dive into the exciting process of programming your chatbot.
Designing a Chatbot
So, you now know that a WhatsApp chatbot is 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 and explore the world of WhatsApp automation.
Before jumping on the WhatsApp chatbot 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 customers 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 WhatsApp chatbot operate in?
- What languages will you offer?
- Which systems will the WhatsApp chatbot integrate with?
- What security features will you have in place?
WhatsApp Chatbot Persona
A chatbot is your business mascot and should reflect your company's culture. 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 the tone of your WhatsApp chatbot be friendly and casual? Or does your industry sector require a more professional personality?
These decisions will form the basis of your content 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 WhatsApp chatbot.
Communicating by using the fewest possible words is essential; this is, after all, a chat.
Defining the Chatbot Conversation
Your WhatsApp 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:
WhatsApp chatbot: Are you an existing member?
Options: Yes | No
If Yes, WhatsApp chatbot: Please input your membership number.
If No, WhatsApp chatbot: 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 WhatsApp chatbot 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. These options include greeting a customer by name or changing the greeting based on the time of day. Previously defined variables can be used to further personalise communication and can include information such as geolocation, age, or buying habits of your customer.
Data Model Integration
Data model integration allows WhatsApp chatbots 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 WhatsApp 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.
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 WhatsApp chatbot will encounter questions that it can’t answer or human input that it won’t recognise. When this happens, make sure that your WhatsApp chatbot is programmed to accept defeat graciously and provide another useful option for the customer. 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 Platform 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 business contact details for escalation purposes.
- The WhatsApp chatbot may not be used for marketing or promotional messaging.
WhatsApp Chatbot Examples
Some pretty smart people out there are using WhatsApp bots to make a real difference in their business. Here’s some inspiration for you.
COVID-19 pushed the African airline industry to the brink, taking a heavy toll on millions of employees and bankrupting several airlines across the continent. In 2020 alone, Africa lost an estimated $7.7 billion in the aviation sector as restrictions were put in place by governments to combat the spread of the pandemic. Projections show that the aviation sector will take until 2023 or 2024 to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite the sector-wide circumstances that necessitated urgent and time-sensitive communication with customers, the Fastjet team realised the importance of investing in improved customer care that would result in a seamless travel experience. They focused on enhancing the airline’s systems to allow for agility and a people-centric communication strategy.
To bridge the gap between customer expectations and actual customer care, they needed a digital communication solution that would overcome the challenges and go the extra mile in maintaining customers’ trust – from the moment a customer books a flight to their arrival in a new destination.
“In conjunction with the chatbot functionality, WhatsApp has given us a powerful communication solution. It’s allowed us to support more than 68 000 customers and provide prompt consistent responses. We’ve reached our audience proactively rather than merely managing crises reactively," says Beverley Kok, General Manager of Customer Experience at Fastjet.
For Missguided, a chatbot was the first step in its journey to customer service automation. After its foundation, the company has rapidly grown into a multi-channel global brand, delivering more than 1000 new styles every week to millennial women.
During the first weeks, engagement with the chatbot on the help page was 65%. Fast forward 11 months and engagement with the bot stands at 80%. This high level of bot engagement has resulted in a reduction in contact and costs by 14%.
In creating a brand that encompasses everything it means to be a millennial girl on the go, every decision the company makes is informed by its customers. While the results prove strong, it is the data-driven approach taken that the Head of Customer Care is most proud of - “Every decision we made prior and post-implementation was data-driven. If you work data-driven, results will follow.”
Another great example is DHL logistics. Automation, digitisation, and data analysis enable DHL to improve not only the entire transport and delivery process but also the communication around it.
Customer Service receives inquiries from both shippers and recipients, from businesses and consumers. To streamline this process, DHL launched a Conversational AI Chatbot."
At the end of 2019, we started small with some basic questions and answers and expanded the project quickly. By starting small, you can take time to analyse the data. What questions are coming in? But also: how can we make the bot more intelligent? So not just a scripted bot, not just a standard answer, but include context, such as time. This way we can provide recipients with an answer in the right context. If you expect your package between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m., you'll get a different answer at 12:00 p.m. than when you chat at 1:30 p.m."
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 chatbot is also able to integrate with additional channels such as Facebook Messenger, offering a multi-channel user engagement solution to any business.
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 with your chatbot build 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 (scripted and ai chatbots) 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 bot 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.
Built-in live chat or AI easily handles 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 businesses 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. The bot can open support tickets for issues that require additional input and feed this information to all parties, logging all interactions along the way.
Integrating WhatsApp chat into a CRM removes the guesswork for businesses that 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 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% fewer emails since implementing its 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 Platform opens the door for a chatbot for enterprises, taking 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!