Customer service automation through chatbot development


The recent surge in popularity of chatbots has led to more automation of various fields. One prime target for chatbots is customer service automation. Chatbots are already being deployed that can help consumers shop, book flights, make dinner reservations, and schedule their day, so why not resolve customer service issues? If you’re interested in automating some of your customer service efforts, the following information may be of use.

Chat log history is a must

To be effective, chatbots need to be accurate at recognizing what a customer is asking or trying to do when they initiate a conversation with the bot. They also need to accurately choose the best approach to go about answering the customer’s question, correcting their problem, or directing them to the appropriate live agent who can help them from there. Many companies who are developing chatbots are doing so without the benefit of access to chat log history. Chatbots utilize machine learning to teach themselves to be more accurate over time. Chatbot developers can input dozens of probable scenarios and hundreds of different ways that frequently asked questions might be worded but actual chat log history–real transcripts of actual conversations between customers and live agents or chatbots are going to be the most useful of all. By adding this to a chatbot’s memory bank, it will be more accurate.

There’s no such thing as a perfect algorithm, yet

There are all sorts of different algorithms out there to help chatbots more accurately assist customers. They all have different strengths and weaknesses but none of them are one-size-fits-all. The most advanced chatbots will still make plenty of mistakes because the technology to perfectly replicate live customer service agents simply isn’t there yet. The best you can do is carefully research the various chatbot algorithms that are out there and test them for accuracy according to what kind of chatbot you’re trying to develop. You’ll have to decide what’s most important to you in a chatbot when developing it because you can’t have it all.

Recognize the shortcomings

One of the the things that makes chatbot development so difficult is the complexity of writing a program that understands semantic relationships between words. Computers are good at recognizing patterns, word order, and keywords that might clue them in to what a human is asking of them. But they don’t have the common sense knowledge about how the world works that humans do. Even the simplest sentences can be difficult for chatbots because while it can easily access the definition of each word, it can’t take all of them together to understand the meaning of the sentence as a whole. AI researchers are gaining ground on this task but in the meantime, businesses who wish to use chatbots for customer service should have realistic expectations for what chatbots can and can’t do for them.

Chatbots aren’t a replacement for live customer service agents

It goes without saying that a need for live agents still exists and will for some time. Chatbots are best used in conjunction with these live agents. Let chatbots automate answering the simple questions and resolving simpler issues and direct the more difficult ones to the appropriate live agent.

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Source: venturebeat.   com/2017/07/01/the-reality-of-automating-customer-service-chat-with-ai-today


How to grow and retain your SMS marketing opt-ins



SMS is a unique marketing channel in that every single person you reach out to via that channel must first give their express permission for you to do so. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. It can be difficult to grow your database of numbers when customers have to take action in order to get on that database and it can be difficult to retain their permission when every text must include directions for opting-out. On the other hand, these regulations on text message marketing also ensure that the people you’re texting (and you are paying per text) are only those who want to receive them and are therefore more likely to act on them. Still, you want to grow your database and retain your opt-ins as much as possible, the following tips can help you accomplish this.

Offer real value

People won’t give you unrestricted access to reach them via text unless they perceive real value in doing so. The occasional 10% off coupon won’t be sufficient for the vast majority of customers. Value also doesn’t have to mean deals and discounts. Appointment reminders, shipping notifications, and advanced notice of restocked items are additional ways you can use text messaging to make life more convenient for those who opt in.

Integrate SMS with other channels

Registering a shortcode and keyword makes it as easy as possible for customers to opt in since all they have to do is text something like “SIGNUP” to a five- or six-digit number. It also makes it easier for you to advertise your SMS channel for customers. You can very quickly provide customers with instructions for opting in on your website, on banner ads in store, near the point-of-sales in your store, and across various social media platforms and other digital and print channels.

Don’t be annoying

It takes a lot of work to build your SMS database and almost no time at all to lose it. Smartphone users can be an impatient group and the moment they perceive that opting-in is more of a burden than it’s worth, they’ll reply to a text, “STOP,” and you are no longer allowed to text them. Texting too often or at inconvenient times such as weekends, holidays, or too early in the morning or late at night will result in more opt-outs. Also, if every single text is a promotional message, they may feel that you’re taking advantage of the relationship you’ve established to constantly push products/services on them. Promotional content should be no more than half of the texts you send.

Stay compliant with regulations

As already established, SMS is a highly regulated marketing channel and the regulations are updated from time to time. While most bulk SMS marketing platforms will ensure you’re staying compliant and stay on top of new regulations, it’s still a good idea to keep up on them as well since an infraction can result in a fine and repeated infractions could even lead to a lawsuit.

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Source: bdaily

The three biggest mobile marketing mistakes your small business can make

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Mobile is the future of advertising. With more than three-quarters of American now owning smartphones, it’s become the most effective way for businesses to communicate with and market to their audience. As businesses rush to keep up with the ever-advancing mobile technology, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. That’s inevitable. But these three mistakes are the worst of the worst and should be avoided at all costs.

Not optimizing for mobile

The year 2016 was the year mobile web traffic surpassed non-mobile web traffic. With each passing year, mobile web traffic will put distance between it and traditional web traffic. In short, more and more people are accessing the web on tiny screens as opposed to bigger ones. Despite this, there are still many business websites that are designed solely to be viewed on computers or laptops. This creates an unpleasant experience for people trying to access it from a tablet and especially a smartphone. Pinching, zooming, squinting, and waiting for slow loading times wear out smartphone users quickly and many will leave the website never to return again. Every day your website isn’t optimized for mobile is a day you’re losing potential customers. Not only do non mobile-friendly sites annoy customers, they’re more likely to be ignored by search engines like Google that utilize advanced algorithms to give preference to websites over others and one of the things they look at is mobile optimization.

Not using the SMS marketing channel

Of all the mobile marketing channels out there, SMS is the oldest and most effective and important. While some may see it as old fashioned and pass it up in favor of in-app advertising or even developing new apps, SMS marketing needs to be a part of your strategy–a big part. Texting is far cheaper than the cost to advertise in apps or to develop an app. It’s also more effective since 95% of all texts are opened and read within three minutes of being received.
Not allocating enough of your marketing budget for mobile
Mobile marketing needs to be getting the majority of your digital ad spending. Businesses will spend more than 100 billion dollars globally on mobile marketing in 2017. That accounts for just over half of all digital advertising spending. By 2020, mobile marketing will account for 75% of digital ad spending or more. Businesses are recognizing the power of mobile and any business that wants to keep up will have to do the same.

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Source: techworm .net/2017/06/3-brutal-mobile-marketing-mistakes-can-wreck-business.html


Five ways restaurant owners can use SMS to grow their business



Opening a restaurant is one of the most popular and challenging forms of entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s popularity is one of the reasons it’s so challenging. Restaurant ownership is a crowded marketplace and it can sometimes seem impossible to stand out when there are already so many restaurants offering every kind of cuisine you can imagine. Developing brand identity and finding something unique to offer is critical if you want your restaurant to thrive. Another good strategy to keeping your restaurant successful is to take advantage of the SMS marketing channel. Here are five ways a restaurant can do this.

Send special offers

Probably the most popular use for SMS marketing is sending mobile coupons or other deals to customers. This can be a great way to get more people through the doors during slower times if you do it right. The offer needs to be good enough to incentivize but not so good it will put you out of business if everyone comes to redeem it either.

Send reservation reminders

Missed reservations can really hurt your restaurant’s bottom line. Since 98% of text messages are opened (and 90% of those within minutes of being received) there’s no better way to send a reservation reminder that the recipient is going to see. Best of all, these SMS reservation reminders enable recipients to add the reservation to their calendar app by clicking on the date and time included in your text. This way they can get reminded again by their phone when the time of their reservation is near.

Create an SMS loyalty program

Just as punch-cards reward frequent customers with every ten visits, an SMS loyalty program can reward your frequent customers with exclusive offers that no one else can get. Make sure that at least a portion of the text messages you’re sending are exclusive to those who’ve opted in to receive your texts. If anyone can get the deal regardless of whether they’ve opted-in, then there’s less incentive to do so.

Make table reservations easy

Text messaging is the preferred method of communication for younger generations who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with calling up a place of business, including your restaurant. You can deploy a chatbot via SMS that allows customers to make a table reservation by simply sending a text to your chatbot. The easier you make it for customers to make a reservation, the more reservations you’ll get.

Gather feedback

Many receipts nowadays have instructions for going to a website to offer feedback in return for some deal during a future visit. These tend to be ineffective because it involves too much work for the customer. A better way is to send a text (if they’ve opted in) a day or so after their visit to your restaurant asking them to participate in a very short survey (three or four questions tops). Since you initiate the survey and they know up front it’s short and they get something in return, you’re going to get more feedback which you can then use to improve your restaurant.

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Source: modernrestaurantmanagement  .com/how-restaurants-can-benefit-from-sms/

How to get more opt-ins for your SMS marketing campaign


SMS marketing differs from most other marketing channels in that you have to obtain each recipient’s permission before sending that first text. Consumers don’t have to sign up to see commercials during the favorite television programming nor do they have to agree to receive emails with promotional messages. But businesses can face fines and or lawsuits if they aren’t compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which includes the requirement that they obtain permission before texting. This presents a challenge to business owners or marketers because they can’t just go out and buy a list of phone numbers and start texting away. But anything worth doing is hard and businesses can be rewarded big for putting in the effort to build a sizable phone number database for an SMS campaign. The following tips will help you accomplish that.

Register a shortcode and keyword

One of the most common ways to get consumers to opt-in to receive promotional text messages is to get them to send the first text. Instead of setting up a standard cell phone number which is ten digits, you can register a shortcode which is a five- or six-digit number. This makes it more likely for consumers to send that first text because it’s easier for them to remember a five- or six-digit number than a full ten-digit one. Through a bulk SMS platform, businesses can also select a keyword that acts as a signifier that that customer wishes to opt in. So instead of a customer texting “I want to opt-in” they can text “CUPCAKES” or whatever keyword you choose that fits with what your business provides. You want to make the opt-in process as simple as possible if you want lots of people to opt-in.

Offer a good incentive

The promise of future deals isn’t always enough to get people to opt-in. They need to see an immediate benefit like a small freebie or a coupon that’s too good to pass up. An introductory offer can be a great strategy but if the initial offer is too good and future offers aren’t, you can find yourself getting a lot of opt-outs as customers feel misled about the value they were getting in return for opting in. That first offer has to incentivizing enough to get opt-ins without setting too high a standard for future deals.

Advertise your SMS campaign

Now that you have a shortcode and keyword setup for simplifying opt-ins, you need to display that information all over. If you already are doing email marketing or print mailing, display the shortcode and keyword prominently along with a call to action: “text ‘____’ to ###### to receive [your opt-in offer here].” If you have a brick and mortar location where customers come in and shop, place opt-in directions by the point-of-sale (typically the cash registers). If you have online sales, have a place for customers to place their phone number and a box they can check if they want to receive text messages. This can be paired with complimentary order status and shipping updates via text as well.

Don’t stop trying

Never stop building your phone number database. No matter how good your SMS campaign, you will get opt-outs so they minute you stop pushing for opt-ins, your database starts to shrink. You can continuously experiment with new incentives and keywords and new ways of advertising your SMS campaign to see what works.

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Source: vanillaplus   .com/2017/06/20/28056-grow-text-message-opt-ins/

Why your business needs a Facebook page and how you can make it successful


If you’re one of the many Facebook users using your personal profile instead of a Facebook page to promote your small business, you’re actually violating one of Facebook’s terms of service: “You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.” Even if it wasn’t in violation of Facebook’s terms of service, you still wouldn’t want to do this. That’s because a Facebook page offers a number of advantages over a personal profile.

Facebook pages allow administrators of the page to see how people are interacting with the page to gain valuable insight into how they can make their page more effective. Facebook pages also provide administrators with various tools to help potential customers connect with them. Now that you’re convinced that you actually need a dedicated Facebook page for your small business, here are some tips for making it better.

Stay active

If you aren’t regularly creating new posts or responding to people who comment on posts or write on the page’s wall, it’s not going to show up in people’s newsfeeds. If you don’t regularly check in your page can eventually be made invisible to Facebook users. People who “like” your page won’t see activity in their newsfeeds regarding your page and they may forget all about it. If you can’t dedicate the time, you may want to consider someone part- or full-time to manage the Facebook page and other social media accounts.

Provide good content

Content marketing is inextricably connected to social media marketing. People “like” and “follow” your business’s page because they get value or enjoyment out of the things you’re posting. To gain and keep a good following for your Facebook page, it’s not enough to regularly post stuff, it has to be good stuff that offers real value to your target audience.

Provide varied content

You can use your Facebook page for more than just text and photos. Try experimenting with producing and sharing video content to your Facebook page. You can also use your page to share polls, gather feedback or insight into your customers, and hold contests or giveaways.

Pay attention to metrics

The number of “likes,” shares, and comments you’re getting on the things you post are good indicators of how well-received your posts are. But there are other metrics as well. You can use various tools that are included with having a Facebook page to see user activity on your page. Use this in combination with the previous suggestion of sharing various kinds of content to see which kinds of posts create the best reaction.

Use the profile photo, cover photo, and “about” section to your advantage

Using generic, boring photos for the profile or cover and neglecting your “about” section are big mistakes. These are often the first things people look at when they stumble upon your page. Your profile picture can be your company logo or a picture of a popular product you sell. Your cover photo can include text such as a call to action. Your “about” section is a great place to introduce potential customers to your business in a memorable way.

Help people find your Facebook page

Use existing marketing channels to build a following. SMS (or text message) marketing is an especially effective channel since the majority of the time people spend on Facebook is via mobile app and not desktop computer. You can occasionally send out a text to your customers that links them to your Facebook page. You might consider offering some kind of incentive for people who “like” your page.

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Source: business2community  .com/facebook/need-facebook-page-7-tips-improve-01846421#KJVRzbhgbejbfSvY.97

Four benefits of sending text messages to customers


With each year that passes, more Americans are preferring to communicate by text than by any other channel. Businesses are taking notice of the growing popularity of text messaging and are choosing to utilize this channel to interact with their most loyal customers. Here are four benefits that can be gained from having a text message marketing campaign.

It boosts your brand’s image

While this may seem like a small thing, simply having an SMS campaign shows customers that you’re savvy and stay on top of trends. That goes a long way in making your brand more cool and trustworthy in the eyes of your customers, especially younger ones. If you’re using SMS to create a loyalty program, it also shows customers that your brand is one that really takes care of its customers by giving them special treatment. That’s going to keep loyal customers coming back.

It’s affordable

The cost to send a single text is anywhere from .015 cents to .095 cents depending on where you live and which bulk SMS platform you’re using to send text messages. That’s much less expensive than sending print mailers and while it’s more expensive than bulk email campaigns, the overall cost effectiveness is still better for SMS because of the higher open-rates that you get with sending text messages. Texts are nearly five times as likely to be read compared to emails.

It’s convenient

SMS marketing is convenient for you as a business owner. By using a bulk SMS platform, you can write out messages in advance, set a time for the text to be sent, and the rest is taken care of for you. SMS marketing services automate opt-in and opt-out processes to efficiently manage the database of phone numbers you’re texting and to avoid any violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It also makes it easy to look at various metrics to see what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to the types of messages you’re sending to your customers.

Not only is texting more convenient for you, it’s convenient for your customers as well. Texts are unobtrusive unlike a phone call or voicemail and customers are free to read the text immediately, or whenever they feel like it. Since they’re always limited to 160 characters, you don’t have to say much, and your customers don’t have to read too much.

It’s effective

Finally and most important, SMS marketing gets better results. In addition to an open-rate that’s nearly 100%, more than 90% of text messages are read within three minutes. That immediacy combined with a higher click-through rate (the percentage of recipients who actually click on any included links within the text message) translates to more conversions. The average conversion rate for a text message is around 8% while you’ll be lucky to see 2% of email recipients converting on the same advertisement.

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