Navigating the New Normal with Chatbots
Bryce North

After being cooped up inside the house for weeks, many of us are raring to go back to normal. We’re tired of being stuck working from home or spending Friday nights on the couch, binge-watching Netflix episodes. We’re suddenly excited to do things we used to take for granted or even hate – like going to a crowded concert, squeezing into a packed subway train, or waiting in line to get a table in a buzzing eatery.

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But as we slowly transition back into our lives, we are also finding out that the world is not the same as we left it pre-lockdown. Suddenly, we have to observe social distancing, undergo temperature-checks, wear face masks, and do a lot of tasks virtually. Until all the uncertainty around Covid-19 is gone and a vaccine is approved, we’ve got to exist in the new normal.

For many businesses and organizations, this means adapting to changes in consumer lifestyles and demands. And one genius tool that’s making this transition easier for many is chatbot technology.

Going full-on digital

Because of physical distancing measures, the demand for online services has surged. Overall internet usage has increased by a whopping 70% during the pandemic.

Ecommerce stores and delivery apps have become more valuable than ever. Restaurants have to switch on takeout and delivery services to survive. Even industries like education, health & fitness, and events that typically rely on in-person interaction have all migrated online at least for the time being.

Artificial intelligence chatbots
But with this increased demand, one of the common problems is how to respond without sacrificing quality. With this pandemic, the majority of companies, big or small, are affected. If you don’t have the resources to adjust to this new normal, how can you continue offering excellent service, make sales, and retain customers?

Chatbots giving smaller businesses a fighting chance

Christian has been running a small dental clinic for over ten years now and even if it’s a solo practice, his active social media presence has made it one of the popular boutique clinics in their area. During the height of the pandemic, he decided to close the clinic for walk-ins and just accept emergency cases by appointment. He also started implementing additional safety measures like wearing PPE, disinfecting the clinic daily, and minimizing person-to-person contact during consultations.

However, one of the things that he struggled with is managing patient inquiries on his Facebook page. He said that from around 10 to 20 inquiries a day, he started getting more than a hundred messages daily. Before the pandemic, responding to the messages himself was not a big deal, however, the large influx of messages became overwhelming for him. He was worried about patients becoming dissatisfied because he could not respond to their messages immediately.

As he was not sure if he could afford to hire another employee just to manage these messages, a friend suggested that he try to use a chatbot service for Facebook Messenger. He was reluctant at first thinking that this is an expensive tool that he could not afford and that his business is too small to have one. Nonetheless, he gave it a shot and looked up basic chatbot services he could use.

Facebook Messenger Bots for Business
After installing a chatbot and having it for several days, he now says that it is a game-changer for his business. Even if the chatbot service he used was not very complex, it still helped a lot in filtering messages and sorting them out. He no longer had to reply to obvious questions like patients asking for opening hours or the location of the clinic. Patients can even book directly through the chatbot. It gave him more time to focus on messages requiring his immediate attention and at the same time provide a fast response to potential patients.

This is just one of the many ways chatbots can help businesses survive during these unpredictable times. The beauty of chatbot technology is that it acts as a great equalizer so even solo entrepreneurs can compete with big-time corporations. In the end, when the service is excellent, it’s the customer who wins.

Chatbots are more than just a trend

From being a trendy tech tool, chatbots have surpassed that to quickly become a necessity in these modern times. With more people consuming online products and services, chatbots will only continue to evolve and help improve customer experience.

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