Does Your Business Need a Virtual Agent?

Virtual AgentIf you’re a business owner, adding a virtual agent to your company’s website is something you might want to consider. When employed effectively, a virtual agent, or what is commonly referred to as chatbot, can bring you more customers and increase sales. In this post, we’ll examine some examples of effective strategies for using chatbots to help you reach your business goals. Keep in mind that current chatbot technology is quite limited. As described in our previous post Sweet Spot for Intelligent Virtual Agents, chatbots are designed to respond to a very narrow range of questions and inputs. It’s therefore best to target your chatbot to a few specific areas of your business that prospective customers are most likely to inquire about.

Given these limitations, how can you employ a virtual agent to increase sales and help grow your business? How can a chatbot engage visitors to your website and deliver new customers? Let’s look a two different business examples where intelligent virtual agents might be used effectively.

Blue Rooster Diner

Blue Rooster Diner is a local eatery that’s been in business for over forty years and is known for it’s delicious comfort foods. The owners of Blue Rooster add a chatbot to their website. They design a chatbot character that looks like a blue rooster and they train it to answer two areas of possible questions: the menu and the diner’s rich history.

When visitors come to the Blue Rooster website, they’re invited to have a chat with the blue rooster himself, the diner’s virtual mascot. After greeting the visitor, the blue rooster is able to answer questions about any menu item, explaining how it tastes, how it’s prepared, the ingredients, and so on. The rooster can even call up photos of various dishes. In some cases, the rooster is able to suggest a dish based on information from the visitor about what types of food they enjoy.  For folks who are ready to place an order, the rooster can walk them through the process of ordering online or phoning in a to go order. The rooster might also remind visitors to try one of the diner’s famous desserts.

The blue rooster mascot is also able to share information about the diner’s long family history. If visitors ask about the owner and about how the diner has changed over the years, the rooster has compelling little stories to engage the visitor and further entice them to visit the diner soon.

Great Bay Plumbers

Great Bay Plumbers is a family owned and operated plumbing business. They serve clients in a local area and thrive on customer referrals and great customer service. Great Bay adds a chatbot to their website that focuses on communicating to prospective customers how important customer service is to the business. The virtual chatbot appears as a professional looking young lady. After greeting prospective customers who have found the Great Bay website, the chatbot answers any questions they may have about all aspects of the company’s service. She lets them know that they guarantee to arrive at the client’s address within ten minutes of the appointment time, or there is no charge for the service call. She also tells them about money-back guarantees on work and parts, points to recent customer reviews on third party review sites, and describes the experience of the Great Bay staff. Visitors to the site are impressed and reassured and are motivated to call for an appointment.

We’ve offered these two fictional examples  to provide a taste of how you might leverage chatbot technologies to enhance your business. We expect the appearance of virtual agents to become increasing prevalent on the web and in smartphone apps over the coming decade. Getting in on the ground floor of this opportunity could put you ahead of your competition.

In future posts, we’ll look at the process for creating and operating a customized chatbot that can support you and your business goals.

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