Chatbots for business are the single biggest disruptive force in customer service and sales, today, especially among small businesses and new market entrants.
The Best Chatbot Applications Increase Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty, & Lifetime Spend
This growth reflects the increased acceptance and adoption of chatbots for business regardless of industry.
What’s more, this increased use of ecommerce and customer service chatbots is raising the standards for online service experiences.
As a result, customer service chatbot and related technologies are a likely contributor to customers’ increasing preference for exceptional service even over product/service quality and price.
Going forward, chatbots for business will represent both essential investments for growth and key opportunities for gaining a competitive advantage.
Check out our full catalog of software listings to learn about different chatbot applications under the business essential category.
Otherwise, keep reading (or skip the 2 next sections) to find out more about our picks for the best ecommerce and customer service chatbots in 2020!
What Is A Chatbot Application
Put simply, a chatbot application is a computer program that simulates human conversations. Even the best chatbots for business are not true artificial intelligence (AI) programs, so they are incapable of creating nuanced answers to open-ended, undefined, and/or uncommon questions. As a result, they are (as of yet) unable to completely replace human customer service and sales representatives.
Nevertheless, the most popular chatbot applications are customer service chatbots and ecommerce chatbots designed for lead generation. Specifically, 41% of chatbots for business play a significant role in routing, retargeting, and closing sales, while another 37% are dedicated to after-purchase customer support.
That’s because contemporary chatbot applications are able to use either retrieval-based programming or machine learning to recall or generate responses to common queries. This makes well-designed chatbot applications ideal tools for simplifying and improving both business operations and customer experiences.
The Best Uses Of Chatbots For Business
Businesses within specific industries — like real estate, travel, education, healthcare, and finance — gain the most measurable profits from deploying chatbots for business operations.
Yet these businesses are definitely not alone in their use of chatbot applications (especially customer service chatbots). There are currently more than 300,000 customer service and ecommerce chatbots on Facebook, together sending as many as 8 billion direct-to-customer messages on behalf of businesses every day.
As chatbots for business become more advanced, the difference they make to both customers’ service experiences and businesses’ profits will only become more significant.
Already, an ecommerce or customer service chatbot can save up to 30% of a business’s operational costs and pave the way for bigger profits. That is because a well-programmed chatbot application can answer up to 80% of pre- or post-purchase customer queries, ultimately increasing sales by up to 67% and satisfaction (the best predictor for retention) by as much as 24%.
What’s more, the best chatbot applications can improve customer service response rates by 99% and reduce the per-query cost to the company from $15-$200 (for human agents) to $1 or less (for a virtual agent) .
Today, just 14% of customers would rather submit a support form and wait for a human response rather than interact with a chatbot application. Over half of all customers expect a business to be available for livechat service 24/7 (as the best chatbots are). This shows that customers are beginning to expect nearly the same level (speed) of customer service from human representatives as chatbot applications.
Businesses will soon need to use customer service chatbots just to meet (let alone exceed) those expectations.
It should be no surprise, then, that four out of five businesses plan to invest in some kind of chatbot application by the end of 2020, and up to 85% of all service interactions will likely involve one.
How To Pick The Best Chatbot Application For Your Business
That said, there are few objective measures for a chatbot application’s performance.
The speed and accuracy of generated responses, the number of programmable responses and queries possible, and the ability to customize the chatbot application are all critically important to how it impacts customers’ experiences.
Yet every business — and every business’ relationship with its customers — is unique. Consequently, making the right choice about which is the best chatbot application for your business requires weighing more than just the general functionality of the program.
Instead, you must consider your business goals and budget, your customers’ lifespan and engagement behaviors, and your own (or your employees’) time, knowledge, and willingness to program and manage a chatbot application.
Because chatbots are not yet true AI applications, even the objective best customer service chatbot will not prove terribly helpful if it is not well-programmed.
Likewise, even the fastest-responding ecommerce chatbot will not help increase sales, retention, or retargeting success if it deploys at inopportune moments in your customers’ unique lifecycle.
No chatbot application is a silver bullet, but well-designed chatbots have the potential to augment business success (for both small and enterprise businesses) based on well-informed customer service, sales, and marketing maneuvers.
The Best Chatbot For Appointment Booking & Other Integrations
Collect.Chat Profile on CuriousCheck : View all reviews from top review sites, compare chatbots, and receive best price.
Trial Period: Yes; Premium 14 day Trial
What makes it the best chatbot application to support scheduling and other customer service integrations:
Cost: Unlimited free plan – next tier starts at $50/month
You can see an excellent example of some of the best uses of this chatbot application right here on CuriousCheck. Go ahead and try it out!
We use this chatbot application because it provides industry-leading support for companies that require service booking/scheduling. It is also excellent for businesses that offer complex products and services that cannot easily convert to an ecommerce listing.
What’s more, as far as ecommerce/customer service chatbots go, it has a robust capability for integration with other apps and plug-ins. For example, we use it in combination with Calendly for booking appointments, though it can also integrate with popular calendar applications (like Google Calendar). Collect.chat can also pair with interactive quizzes, email marketing automation tools, and other lead generation and retargeting tools.
Pros: Modern design with easy drag-and-drop builder; numerous integrations; logic jumps available; high-quality templates available for popular industries. Collect.Chat is extremely affordable there’s even a free version with up to 50 responses a month.
Cons: The only con we could find is the free version does not enable access to using logic jumps for responses…but it’s literally free so not sure why you’d complain.
The Best Chatbot for Shopify
2. Octane AI
CuriousCheck Octane AI Profile: View all reviews from top review sites, compare chatbots, and receive best price.
Trial Period: Yes; free; 14 days
Cost: Plans start at $9/month
What makes it the best ecommerce chatbot for businesses using Shopify:
One of the best chatbots for Shopify, Octane AI easily integrates with Facebook Messenger and comes with a full complement of advertising, retargeting, and customer support tools. Unlike other available chatbots for Shopify, Octane AI has proven, measurable results; adopting this ecommerce chatbot can double a business’s return on its investment in the application.
As an intentionally-designed chatbot for Shopify stores, it can increase open rates for retargeting emails by as much as 80%, facilitates abandoned cart recovery, and leads to 5x more recovered carts. What’s more, the average order value of customers engaged by this ecommerce chatbot increase by 25%.
Though Octane AI is the top-rated chatbot for Shopify, it can also easily integrate with other online shopping platforms. Consequently, this is not just the front-runner among chatbots for Shopify; it is likely among the best available ecommerce chatbots, period.
Pros: With overwhelmingly positive reviews, businesses’ experiences with Octane AI as a chatbot for Shopify tend to be categorized by fast, effective customer service and onboarding.
Cons: Limited customization and especially translation options make this ecommerce chatbot difficult to use for businesses serving primarily non-English speaking customers. Other chatbots for Shopify also may not lean so heavily on their integration with Facebook, making Octane a non-ideal choice for an off-Facebook brand.
The Best Chatbot For Customer Service
CuriousCheck Chatbot Profile:View all reviews from top review sites, compare chatbots, and receive best price.
Trial Period: Yes; free; 14 days; no credit card input required
Cost: Plans start at $50/month
What makes it the best chatbot for customer service:
This chatbot application features an intuitive building platform stocked with customizable, ready-to-use templates. This makes it easy to build a custom chatbot for your business in just a few minutes, with no coding needed.
Users need few technical skills, as Chatbot offers one-click integration with some of the most common (and other easiest-to-use) applications out there, including Mailchimp, Facebook Messenger, Hubspot, Slack, and Google Sheets.
Also unlike other ecommerce chatbots, Chatbot provides detailed data analytics options. It also offers a unique and easy-to-use “training” process that empowers users to use the data gathered through the chatbot application to help the program learn how to better respond to customers’ queries.
Pros: Very easy to use and get started (especially using one of the available templates) so long as you find the chatbot building platform intuitive. Easy-to-view data analytics as well as established avenues to put data to good use.
Cons: Advanced data analytics are only available with pricier plans, making some of the best features of this ecommerce chatbot inaccessible to small businesses on tight budgets and new-market entrants.
Using The Best Chatbot Application For Your Business Can Make All The Difference
By the end of 2020, service experience will be the greatest point of differentiation (and competition) between brands in every industry. What’s more, at least two-thirds of customers judge the quality of the service they receive on the speed of the response, rather than the accuracy of the answer.
This preference for rapid, real-time responses is so strong that nearly one-quarter of customers will abandon a purchase or choose not to make a second one if the service they receive is too slow. Many businesses are responding to these changing consumer expectations by deploying ecommerce and customer service chatbots, which are intentionally designed to satisfy customers’ need for speed.
Because of this combination of consumer preferences and competitor behavior, adopting a chatbot for business support will soon become the only way to provide satisfactory service experiences and stay competitive.
Really, the question is no longer whether or not you should adopt a chatbot for your business, but which chatbot application should your business adopt? If the chatbot applications discussed here do not quite fit your business needs, check out our full catalog of software listings to learn about other available chatbot applications.