We've all seen the little chat icon pop up in the corner of our web page. And we've all likely groaned aloud or ignored it. But chatbots for small businesses are quickly becoming an essential part of the customer service experience - and a good one at that.
It’s no secret that most customers prefer to talk to a human being. But the reality is that only high-budget enterprises can afford 24/7 customer service staffed with people for whom English is their first language.
Chatbots are saving and making small and medium-sized businesses a lot of money. In 2021 alone, chatbots produced over $80 million dollars in sales.
A recent survey conducted by Tidio showed that 75% of companies have already integrated chatbots into their organizations and are satisfied with the results.
And nearly 65% of customers say they would prefer to use a chatbot rather than wait for a human representative to help them.
So, what is a chatbot, and how can it help your home services business?
A chatbot is essentially an automated computer program designed to engage and start a conversation with customers via text messages, voice commands, or both. The best part? Chatbots for businesses are cost-effective compared to hiring additional staff members to manage customer inquiries. And they’re hard at work around the clock, after hours, on weekends and holidays.
Learn how this technology can help your home services business today and start reaping the rewards tomorrow!
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots (sometimes referred to as talkbots, chatterbots, bots, or IM bots) are more than colorful icons on your computer screen; they are a powerful tool for businesses with limited resources. As opposed to live chat, where your customers are connected to a human representative of your company, chatbots are computer programs that use artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate human conversation and provide automated customer service.
Source: GoSite Websites and Messenger
Chatbots have come a long way since their hacky emergence in the 1960s. In the past, responses were slow, unintuitive, and often irrelevant. But modern natural language processing technology has improved them to the point where many can now understand and respond in real-time.
Today, these "instant messaging" tools are invaluable for businesses of all sizes, interacting naturally with customers to carry out simple tasks. Think providing product details, or responding to questions about orders and services.
What Are On-Demand Home Services Apps?
On-demand home service apps let customers instantly hire professional home services digitally — in other words, through an app. These apps are either:
- An existing on-demand home service app/platform (for example, Thumbtack)
- Built out for your specific business (which requires more of an investment)
How Does a Chatbot Work?
Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is a chatbot,” the next obvious step is to explain how they work. Simply put, these cute little bots are computer programs or apps that use artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP) to communicate with people in real time.
Because of this artificial intelligence, talkbots can recognize patterns in data, identify trends, and make predictions about future behavior. Natural language processing is an essential component of AI technology used by chatbots for understanding the meaning of text written by humans.
NLP algorithms allow bots to interpret user input in natural language so they can provide meaningful responses accordingly.
At its most basic level, a talkbot is an automated conversation partner. It responds to questions and commands using programmed algorithms that recognize specific keywords or phrases the user enters into the system.
Why Chatbots Aren’t Just for eCommerce and SaaS Companies
Historically, the term "chatbot" is often associated with trendy eCommerce or SaaS companies using robots to interact with customers and answer their questions. But what many are unaware of is that chatbots have become increasingly widespread among home services businesses too.
Chatbots offer home services companies a unique opportunity to enhance customer experience, while cutting overhead costs and improving efficiency.
As a business owner in the home services industry, your time is invaluable for multiple reasons:
- Oftentimes, you're directly linked to the service you provide, so you can’t delegate tasks to others.
- You have limited resources and a need to maximize efficiency.
- You want to make sure your customers are happy with their experience, but need to balance serving current customers with acquiring new ones.
By using chatbots, you can automate mundane customer service tasks that take up valuable time and resources.
Common Trades Business Challenges that Chatbots Can Solve
When it comes to customer service, home services businesses face a unique set of challenges.
First and foremost is the need to respond quickly. Home services often require urgent attention (whether because of emergencies, or simply the pressing nature of structural problems) , so customers expect quick responses from companies they hire for help.
But responding promptly can be difficult when you’re trying to balance multiple tasks at once. Chatbots provide a solution: by automating mundane customer service tasks like answering basic questions or scheduling appointments, you can free up time and focus on providing the best service possible.
Another challenge is that home services businesses need to be accessible 24/7, since customers may require help at any hour of the day. Think plumbers, electricians and others who are often called for emergency services. With chatbots, you can ensure that customer inquiries are answered even when your business is closed.
Finally, many home services businesses are small operations with limited resources and staff. Chatbots can help manage the customer service side of things without needing to hire extra help - a great way to cut overhead costs while still providing a high-quality customer experience.
Source: SMB Group
How and When to Manage Chat Messaging Directly
That said, although automation of customer service can be convenient, it isn't always the most effective approach. Depending on your business model, personal management of certain inquiries is essential in providing a superior customer experience.
You can set up answers and instructions for routine questions and problems, which will inevitably handle half (or more) of the questions you’ll get from customers online. Thousands of home services owner-operators are already using chatbots to book customer appointments, send estimates, request payment, and more.
That said, more complex issues usually require your (or your team members’) direct assistance. Thankfully, chatbot technology can quickly escalate an issue to you if they meet certain criteria.
For instance, if you run an HVAC business, you probably want to be involved in any conversations about complex repairs or emergency situations. On the other hand, if you're a landscaping company, there's no need for you to directly respond every time someone inquires about the price of a service - that's a job a chatbot can do perfectly well.
The most common usage of chatbots for a home services business is handling inquiries when you're out of the office, like late at night or on weekends. Having a chatbot to direct customers to the right page or provide basic information helps ensure you have a funnel open to capture sales even when you're not available.
What about hiring someone to do this for me?
Don't get us wrong: you can certainly hire a person to chat on your behalf, too. But chatbots are often a more efficient and cost-effective solution. And if hands-on, white-glove service is what you insist on providing, one customer service agent can oversee hundreds of chatbot conversations and intervene should any customer need help.
They can provide a similar level of customer service without having to pay a team of agents salary or benefits, as well as provide 24/7 availability with no breaks or days off.
Here are some pros and cons to hiring versus using a chatbot:
Hiring: Pros include having a live person to interact with customers and the ability to customize conversations. People can handle more complex questions and intelligently use other resources to help customers. Cons include high overhead costs, limited availability, and more complex training needs.
Chatbots: Pros include 24/7 availability, low cost of ownership, and less time spent on mundane tasks. Cons include potentially “robotic-sounding” messages that lack human touch.
Components of an Effective Chatbot Platform
So, when it comes to deciding on the best chatbots for small businesses, what features should you look for? Read on for some ideas.
1. Round-the-clock customer service. A bot platform should provide customers with 24/7 access to your business, allowing them to contact you anytime – day or night.
2. Positive customer experience. Customers should always receive a positive and helpful response from their talkbot interactions.
3. Accessibility. The IM bot platform must be accessible across multiple devices and platforms, including desktop, mobile, web, etc., for maximum reachability.
4. Personalization. Chatbots for businesses should be able to personalize conversations based on user preferences to create a unique experience for each customer interaction.
5. Ease of use. A good bot platform should be easy to use and intuitive to give customers a seamless experience when using it.
6. Security. The talkbot platform must prioritize customer security to protect their data and privacy from any potential threats or malicious actors.
7. Analytics. Chatbots for small businesses should provide insights into user behaviors to help you better understand your customer base and optimize your services accordingly.
8. Ability to learn. A good IM bot should be able to learn from customer interactions over time, allowing it to become more intelligent with each conversation.
9. Knows when it needs help. Chatbots should be able to recognize when they need human assistance and seamlessly transfer the customer to a support representative if needed.
10. Integrates with other services. The platform should integrate with other services like email, SMS, calendar applications, etc., to provide customers with a comprehensive suite of features and capabilities.
11. Automation. Talkbots are designed to automate mundane tasks and free up your staff’s time to focus on more important work.
With the right components in place, your home service business can leverage the power of AI to automate specific tasks and create a more personalized service that customers will appreciate.
5 Benefits of Chatbots for Home Services Businesses
By now, you should understand what bots are and what you should be looking for if you're teetering on the edge of using one for your home services business. Let's make them even more appealing by discussing how chatbots for businesses can give you an edge over your competitors.
1. 24/7 Availability
One of the main benefits of using an IM bot for your home services business is that you can provide customer support virtually 24/7. Chatbots for small businesses can respond instantly, meaning customers don't have to wait in line for help or wait days on end for an email reply. This helps improve customer satisfaction and keeps them coming back!
2. Instant Responses
Talkbots can be programmed to understand specific questions and issues, allowing them to respond instantly whenever they're asked about your business's products or services. This eliminates any delay in responding to customers' queries while ensuring they have the information they need when they need it.
Chatbots allow you to customize your customer experience by including personal information and preferences in their responses. For example, if a customer has placed an order with you before, the bot can provide them with updates about their order status or any other relevant details that may be helpful. This helps build trust between customers and your business and can increase loyalty over time!
4. Cost & Time Savings
Using a talkbot for your home services business is cost-efficient as there's no need to hire additional staff members to answer customer queries around the clock. Additionally, it can save you time and energy by taking the burden of dealing with customer support off your shoulders and allowing you to focus on other areas of your business instead.
Source: Juniper Research and Perfectial
4. Business Growth
Lastly, using a chatbot can help drive more sales by providing personalized recommendations based on customers' buying habits and preferences. This helps increase conversions and encourages customers to come back for more! Additionally, chatbots for small businesses can be used as marketing tools to promote new products or services that may interest them.
All in all, having a talkbot for your home services business is an efficient and cost-effective way to provide customer support, increase conversions and drive business growth. With the right chatbot in place, you'll be able to take your home services business to the next level!
How Home Services Businesses Can Leverage Chatbot Software
IM bots are an invaluable tool for businesses in the home services industry. Because they are designed to mimic human conversations, they can help businesses automate customer service tasks while engaging potential customers.
Let’s dive deeper into how chatbots for small businesses can make life easier and dramatically improve your bottom line!
Offer Instant Customer Service
Imagine how much time you could save if your business had someone available 24/7 to answer customer queries. With a chatbot, this is possible! An AI-powered bot can respond immediately to customer inquiries about your services or products. This helps to create a more personalized customer experience and can even lead them directly to the place where they can book a consultation.
For example, let’s say you own a home business that offers plumbing services. When someone visits your website, they will be greeted by your chatbot, immediately asking if they need assistance with anything.
The customer can then ask questions about what kind of plumbing services are offered or how much it would cost for specific jobs. The bot could provide an instant response and even direct them to where they can book an appointment with one of your technicians.
Engage Your Potential Client as They Browse Your Services
Chatbots are incredibly useful for engaging with customers when they land on your website. They can ask questions and provide helpful information about your services, allowing them to find what they’re looking for quickly.
This helps to create a more personalized customer experience and encourages people to return in the future. For example, if someone visits your website looking for electrical services, your talkbot could recommend certain services based on their needs or direct them to where they can book an appointment with one of your technicians.
Source: GoSite Messages
Answer Frequently Asked Questions About Your Services
Chatbots for small businesses are great for quickly answering customers' common questions regarding their services. For example, if you own a cleaning business, your bot could provide detailed answers on when and where you offer cleaning services, what types of products you use, and any special offers you may have.
This saves time for both the customer and your staff, as they don’t have to answer each inquiry individually.
Lead Them To Where They Can Book a Consultation or Schedule a Service
Chatbots can also be used to guide customers through the process of booking a consultation or appointment with your business. After answering their questions about your services, bot software can prompt them to input their contact information so that an employee from your company can get in touch and schedule an appointment.
Source: GoSite Messages and Booking
This makes it easier for customers interested in what you offer but do not know how or where to book a consultation. For example, a lawn care business could use chatbot software to answer customer questions about their services and then guide them to the “Book an Appointment” page of the website.
Create Personalized Experiences with Chatbots
When you employ the personal touch with your customers, you create a unique and emotional experience that keeps them coming back. Chatbots for small businesses in the professional and home services sector do just this.
With the right programming, you can use your bot to create personalized experiences for each customer who contacts you. Here’s how:
- Greet customers by name. Your chatbot can be programmed to greet customers by name when they start a conversation with you. This simple gesture shows your customers that you value their business and care about providing a personalized experience for them.
- Remember previous conversations. You can program your IM bot to remember previous conversations with customers. This allows it to pick up where the conversation left off, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time a customer contacts you.
- Provide tailored suggestions. Your chatbot can be programmed to provide tailored suggestions based on a customer’s past interactions with you and their preferences. For example, if a customer has expressed interest in particular products or services, your talkbot can also offer personalized recommendations for similar items they may like.
- Automate repeat transactions. If your business offers services that require repeat transactions, you can program your chatbot to remember the customer’s preferences and automatically complete the transaction for them. This saves customers time and effort, making it easier for them to do business with you.
By employing a bot in your professional or home services business, you can create personalized experiences for each of your customers, which can help you build relationships with clients while simultaneously streamlining processes and increasing efficiency.
Why Not Try Website Chatbots from GoSite?
By now, you should have a strong understanding of how chatbots can be used to help small businesses in the professional and home services sector. Chatbots for small businesses are fantastic tools that can make your customer service process easier and faster, while freeing up valuable time for employees or other tasks.
With GoSite's chatbot, you can instantly engage with your customers and respond to their needs at any hour of the day. Additionally, you can customize your responses to handle any query, small or large, and quickly filter out prospects that are interested in working with you.