Month: September 2017

Six things your customer service chatbot must be able to do



Chatbots are in the midst of a huge growth phase. Chatbot programmers and AI researchers are still discovering new ways to use them as well as things they can’t do. Chatbots are already a lot more useful and practical for the average small business than they were even just a year ago. One of the most popular uses is in customer service. If you’re considering developing a chatbot for your business’s customer service needs, here are six things you’ll want your bot to be able to do.

Use natural language processing to understand what people are saying to them

Early chatbots operated very similar to automated phone answering systems–the kind you encounter when you are forced to call a customer service line and listen to a series of options before giving responses. Deviate in any way from the exact wording and the automated system will have no clue what you’re saying. You don’t want your chatbot to operate in this way. Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of artificial intelligence research geared towards creating machines that can understand language so that it isn’t limited to responding to several predetermined questions or requests. Your bot needs NLP if you want customers to be able to speak freely with it.

Respond empathetically

One of the things people don’t like about interacting with chatbots is that they can be cold and impersonal. A live customer service agent can defuse a bad interaction by showing empathy and relating to customers on a personal and emotional level. While chatbots may not be capable of feeling emotions like humans, they can be programmed to use empathetic language which can still have the same calming effect on customers.

Offer a personalized customer service experience

Your chatbot will need to be able to remember second- and third-time users. If your chatbot has access to previous conversations it can recall a person’s preferences and personal information. It can address the customer by name without having to ask for it and can make the customer feel important and appreciated.

Stay consistent in tone and personality

Chatbots are unsettling for many people. A way to reduce the unsettled feeling customers might get is to make sure your bot is consistent in tone and personality. If it fluctuates between friendly and conversational to being very straight-the-point and robotic, people will have trouble getting into the experience of chatting with your chatbot and may prefer to get on the phone instead.


Your chatbot will make mistakes daily. Don’t worry about creating a perfect chatbot because it’s impossible. The best you can hope for though is a chatbot that grows more accurate with each mistake. Through machine learning, you can feed your chatbot hundreds or thousands of customer service interactions so it can pick up on patterns to better understand what leads to failed and successful interactions.

Ask for help

If people invest several minutes into conversing with your bot only for your bot to get stuck and not be able to help, they then have to get on the phone which is probably what they were trying to avoid in the first place. It defeats the purpose of using a message-based platform in the first place. So if you’re going to invest in a chatbot, make sure your customer service team is equipped with the tools to be able to take over a failed chat session. Make sure your chatbot is able to recognize and admit failure early enough in the process that customers don’t grow frustrated and give up before a live agent can assist them.


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Source: venturebeat. com/2017/09/16/5-small-changes-that-drastically-improve-chatbot-conversations/


How to take your business’s social media strategy to the next level




Social media marketing is changing every single day. New platforms and technologies are constantly being created giving marketers access to new streams of data that they can use to adjust their strategy. The way brands are using social media today is different from what it was even just one year ago and it will be different another year from now. The most successful social media marketers are those that embrace these new platforms and marketing tools and incorporate them into existing strategies to always keep improving. If you want to take your social media business strategy to the next level, then here are four tips you need to keep in mind.

Engage with customers

In the world of social media marketing, you’ll often hear the advice to do a lot more listening than talking. Social media is different than traditional marketing channels in that promoting your products or services is not the primary goal. Social media is about building brand awareness and opening up lines of communication with your customer base. As such, you don’t want to be putting so much attention into your promotional content that you’re not able to adequately listen to what your customers are saying to you on social media. But there’s something even more important than listening, and that’s engaging. Find ways to truly interact with your customers or potential customers on social media and you’ll be on the right track.

Use social media management tools

There’s no shortage of social media management tools that you can be using to track various metrics and better engage with customers. Which ones you use will depend on your particular strategy. Social media management tools can give your social media people a central dashboard where they can schedule the publishing of content, route inbound messages to the right person, and see what’s being said about the brand on social media.

Get the right content to the right people

Outside of social media, almost all advertising is paid advertising. But social media is more diverse. While you certainly can pay to sponsor posts, there’s also earned, owned, and shared content that are free. There is a place for all kinds of content in your social media strategy. It’s a matter of finding the right balance. When you’re putting together a post, you need to consider your audience and objectives and decide on which type of content will be the best for that particular situation.

Find the right balance of human and machine

One of the most exciting things happening in social media marketing is the emergence of chatbots that can help to automate a lot of the business-customer interactions that take place over the messaging platform. Chatbots can be an excellent tool but they don’t replace the need for high quality social media people. Finding the right balance between human and machine so that your chatbot is helping and not hindering your social media strategy is of utmost importance.

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Which criteria to use when selecting mobile marketing tools and channels


In the smartphone era, a strong mobile marketing campaign is crucial to the success of every business no matter how big or small. But putting together that mobile strategy is easier said than done. There are dozens of channels and hundreds and hundreds of tools for tracking metrics and automating the advertising. You can’t afford the time or money to try them all so how do you pick which ones? Here are a few criteria that can help you decide.

Mobile marketing tools and channels should…

  • Be easy to use. Unless you have the resources to hire a full-time social media person, you should make ease of use a priority in selecting both mobile channels and mobile marketing tools. If the learning curve is too steep you’ll probably waste too much time trying to figure out how to use it and not enough time actually implementing and benefiting from it.
  • Be effective. This one’s pretty straightforward. A channel or tool should do for your business what it’s supposed to do. If you try out a new channel or tool and give it a fair chance, but it doesn’t help you achieve your mobile marketing aims, then there’s probably no sense in investing in it further.
  • Be Up-to-date. Some tools or channels may have been helpful at one time, but aren’t anymore. The world of mobile technology is advancing at an incredible rate so if tools and channels aren’t being regularly updated to keep them relevant, they aren’t going to be the best option for your business.
  • Offer value to your business. This is another one that might seem obvious but many businesses are using tools and channels simply because other businesses are using it and they just think they should as well. So ask yourself, is a given tool or channel offering you any tangible results? If it’s not doing anything of value for your brand, you need to consider why you’re investing time and money into it at all.
  • Have good customer service. This one applies to tools and not channels but you’ll find that many mobile marketing tools come with 24/7 support and others do not. It’s safe to assume that you’re going to run into problems or questions with any given tool so it’s important that you can get immediate assistance when these problems or questions arise so you can use the tool to its full potential.

SMS is a must

With so many tools and channels, very few are a must for all industries. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. But there is at least one notable exception: SMS. Short Message Service (or text messaging) needs to be a part of every mobile marketing campaign and it meets all five criteria above:

  • Ease of use. If you select the right bulk SMS service, SMS marketing is very easy since the service will automate the opt-ins and opt-outs. You only have to craft the message and set the time for it to be sent and the service takes care of everything else.
  • Effectiveness. The open rate for text messages is about 98% (90% within three minutes of the text being received). Click-through and redemption rates for special offers are about ten times higher than they are for email.
  • Up-to-date. Though the SMS protocol hasn’t changed hardly at all over the years, regulations on text messaging have and the majority of bulk SMS services have continuously adapted to be compliant with these regulations.
  • Value. The low cost per text, combined with the effectiveness of the channel means SMS is one of the most valuable mobile channels you can have in your arsenal.
  • Customer service. Select a service with a great reputation for round-the-clock support and SMS might be the best thing that ever happened to your brand.

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Six ways to grow your online business on a budget


Whether you’re a brand new startup trying to launch a business from home or you’ve got an established brand with a great online presence, it’s crucial that you keep it growing. Stagnation is the death of all brands from small startups to national chains. The following tips will help you build your online business without spending a fortune.

Make sure your website is optimized for mobile

The year 2016 was the year mobile web traffic surpassed traditional web traffic, and mobile web traffic is only going to increase the gap with each passing year. Already, more than half of your website visitors aren’t having a positive experience on your site if it’s not mobile optimized. Mobile optimization is inexpensive because the majority of website building platforms already have responsive design which does it for you.

Find out all you can about your audience

You’ll waste less money trying to find a marketing approach that works if you just take some time to get to know your existing customer base (and your ideal customer) better. Find unobtrusive ways to get information from customers along the way. Start small by asking for an email address or phone number and get permission to email or text. Offer small incentives in exchange for personal info like birthdate, gender, and age. Short surveys after purchases are a great way to obtain this kind of info from customers.

Invest in SMS marketing

Mobile is an increasingly important aspect of digital marketing and there’s no better place to start with mobile marketing than SMS, or text messaging. Text messages only cost a few pennies per text so it’s one of the most affordable digital channels out there. Add to that the fact that you’re only sending them to people who’ve opted in and that 90% of your recipients will open and read your text in three minutes or less and you realize how cost-effective SMS marketing is.

Create engaging content

You can diversify your marketing efforts by launching a content marketing campaign. Content marketing is different from other marketing efforts in that the primary goal isn’t to make sales, but rather, to create awareness, drive engagement, and generate leads that may one day become loyal customers. Content marketing can be as simple as adding a blog to your company website and paying a freelancer to post two or three articles a week too it. If your brand is committed to producing high-quality content, potential customers will seek you out.

Segment and personalize

Using the information you obtain from following the advice in tip number two, you can segment your audience by age, gender, interests, or other criteria and provide more personalized marketing for the various segments. Segmentation and personalization of your marketing efforts is cheaper in the long run since you won’t be wasting money sending ads that aren’t relevant to the people you’re sending them to.

Build a strong social media presence

The great thing about social media is that it’s free to create a business page and you get a lot of free advertising in the form of followers who share your posts where their friends and family can see them. Once you’ve gotten started and are seeing success, you can invest in paid advertising and a full- or part-time social media person to maintain your various social media pages.

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Source: nuwireinvestor.  com/10-tips-growing-online-business/


Ten uses for chatbots you’re about to see a whole lot more often



When the idea of chatbots was first envisioned, chatbot programmers and tech bloggers claimed it was going to revolutionize the way brands and customers interacted with each other. Actual growth of the chatbot industry wasn’t able to keep up with the hype leading many to believe that chatbots were just a fad that would soon disappear completely but 2018 is beginning to look like the year that chatbots will really start to live up to the hype. Here’s a look at ten industries that will see a shake-up as a result of chatbots in the coming year.

Customer service

An industry that’s already starting to see an impact as a result of chatbots is going to be further impacted in 2018 as more companies deploy customer service chatbots. These chatbots will handle answering frequently asked questions as well as getting preliminary questions out of the way to get an understanding of the nature of the problem, pulling customer information, and routing them to a chat with a live agent.

Data gathering/analytics

Because short text messages sent over SMS or other messaging platforms are less invasive than phone calls, expect chatbots to be used by companies for the purpose of data gathering whether that’s short cusotmer satisfaction surveys, or requests for information that they need like contact info or demographic info.


Anyone who has ever visited an urgent care clinic or emergency room can attest that wait times are a huge problem in the healthcare industry and treatment is often subpar as doctors and nurses rush from one patient to the next to make sure everyone gets seen. We already know that artificially intelligent computers are more accurate and more efficient when it comes to analyzing scans and detecting diseases. Chatbots will soon be used in the healthcare industry so that people can contact a bot, enter into some back and forth question and answering, and get recommendations on what to do next whether that’s over-the-counter medications/treatments or scheduling an appointment with a specialist.

Personal coach

Personal coaches, whether for health/fitness, finance, or any other area are a prime industry for chatbots since they’re adept at asking questions, recognizing patterns, and forming an understanding of who you are as a person and what your interests and tendencies are. Chatbots can pull from all of this info to customize a plan to help you reach your goals, whatever they are.


In the hotel industry, there are many tasks that a chatbot concierge could assist with to free up human concierges to focus on more complex tasks. A chatbot concierge could assist people in booking hotel rooms, finding nearby food options based on people’s preferences, and requesting additional amenities such as extra blankets or pillows.


Companies are already using chatbots to assist online shoppers by offering product recommendations and assisting with online checkouts. Chatbots will soon be used to follow up with customers who made in-store visits and can provide in-store customers with additional info about products not printed on the label.

Personalized news

Chatbots are already being used by people to get personalized news stories delivered right to them. They can tell the chatbot what topics they’re interested in. But soon personalized news chatbots can be even more helpful. They can deliver local news stories that might be relevant based on your location and can even time the delivery of the news according to your schedule, for instance, waiting until your lunch break or after dinner to deliver the news of the day according to your preference.

Personal assistant

Personal assistant chatbots will be great for internal use within companies to facilitate better collaboration between departments or employees within departments. They can coordinate calendars and set up meetings or reach out to HR or IT for employees when the need arises.

User engagement

Website-specific chatbots are already being used by many companies to help their customers navigate their websites. They initiate a chat session when visitors seem stuck. Expect more companies to utilize these kinds of chatbots. In 2018, the majority of the websites you visit may have a chatbot that is there in the background to help you find what you’re looking for.


A handful of banks have already deployed chatbots but expect the rest to catch up in 2018. Banking chatbots can tell you your current balance, help you transfer funds between accounts, make bill payments, or set up recurring payments, transfers, or direct deposits without having to visit the bank’s website or open up the bank’s mobile app.

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Source: knowstartup.   com/2017/08/10-amazing-chatbot-applications/

No, chatbots aren’t stealing jobs, but they are making those jobs more enjoyable



Perhaps the most successful area in AI research currently is chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that simulate a conversation with a human. Through machine learning and natural language processing, these computer programs can understand to a degree what people are saying to them and they can formulate responses that are intelligible and appropriate within the context of the conversation. What makes chatbots such an exciting area of study within artificial intelligence research is that it is a practical area of study and one that already has real-world applications and implications. Businesses are already using chatbots in a number of important ways and one of the biggest uses of chatbots currently is in customer support.

Not everyone is excited at the prospect of chatbots being used in the customer service industry and some are claiming that chatbots will take the jobs of customer service agents. Ironically, these complaints are mostly coming from people who don’t work in the customer service industry. And the majority of those who do (80%) say that they’d welcome chatbots into their customer support team and that chatbots would improve their job satisfaction. For a better understanding of why that’s the case, consider the following points.

Chatbots reduce the mundane

Imagine you work in a customer service on a live chat team. Would you prefer that 90% of the questions you’re asked consist of the same five or six questions or would you prefer to tackle more challenging questions that require you to really exercise your brain to help resolve them? And here’s a follow-up question, would your work day seem faster in the first scenario or the second? If you’re like most people who work in the customer service industry, you’d prefer the second scenario. Assisting in answering the same handful of boring, easy questions day in and day out is mundane. It leads to decreased job satisfaction. Chatbots eliminate this by fielding the easy questions for customer support agents so only the more challenging and unique situations make it through to the human customer support staff.

Chatbots make customers happier

When customers encounter a problem or question, they expect a quick resolution when they turn to the brand’s customer service team for assistance. You can probably imagine quite easily (because it’s happened to you more than once) a situation where you initiate a live chat session with a customer support team and have to wait for several minutes to get beyond the automatically generated message telling your your question has been received. When a live agent does come on to assist you, there are still long gaps between communications because he/she is trying to balance several interactions simultaneously. Your customer service interaction with that agent starts of on the wrong foot and only gets more strained from there. Chatbots eliminate this problem by reducing wait times and freeing up live agents to give more attention to the more difficult situations that chatbots can’t resolve. Customers are happier right at the start because of prompt service and the chances of a successful resolution increase substantially.

Happier customers means happier customer service agents.

We’ve come full circle. Chatbots make employees happier and more productive because they make their jobs less mundane. This in turn makes customers happier because they don’t have to wait as long and they’re dealing with friendlier support staff. And happier customers in turn makes customer service representatives even more effective because they aren’t facing an uphill battle in dealing with an upset customer right from the start.

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Source: entrepreneur.  com/article/299237