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Emerging Technologies
6 min

Let’s talk: Chatbots for professional services

by Vinu Krishnaswamy August 15, 2018
C

Chatbots are all the rage for B2C organizations. In the past few years, they have been used to improve customer service, enable target marketing and make simple tasks easier for clients. It may seem like PSOs have not caught up yet, but chatbots can be used for a variety of tasks to make marketing more effective in your organizations.

Are chatbots just a fad or do they serve a purpose?

Chatbots are the latest marketing toy, but they can also serve two key purposes:

Increase customer engagement

Chat interfaces are naturally more engaging. Millions of people are familiar with the interface and engage with it daily for personal communications. Recent data shows users engage with chatbots more than emails because they seem more personal and, if implemented correctly, give personalized information to the user when the user needs it. Response times are also reduced through chatbots for simple queries, which is key to creating client stickiness digitally.

Increase conversions

Conversions for PSOs may differ per business. They could range from signing up for a newsletter or downloading a whitepaper, to an offline transaction, like contacting a professional directly. Chatbots can drive users to these goals by suggesting them at opportune times.

For example, when a user has read a few articles related to a specific topic, a chatbot can ping them to ask if they would like to subscribe to a newsletter. The combination of understanding the user and suggesting possible actions is a powerful way to show users that you are engaged to their needs.

 

Where do we implement it?

Like with any new technology, it’s important to take small steps as you identify implementation opportunities. First, identify where you can use chatbots. Digging in to your analytics and customer feedback is key to identifying where on your website or applications a chatbot could be of use. Consider:

  1. A lead-in to search
    Search pages on PSO websites are complicated. They have a myriad of options to filter from and may overwhelm the user. A chatbot that allows you to type in a query, for example, “Find latest thought leadership in Renewable Energy” is simpler for the user to do, and gives Search the appropriate filters to get the user what they need. This may be a search on your website, your intranet or extranet applications. Intranets contain a lot of information where Search can seem cumbersome and irrelevant. A chatbot can alleviate some of these issues.
  2. A replacement for forms
    Chatbots are a great replacement tools for the forms that you want users to fill in. Forms are an important way for you to identify your users and their needs. Unfortunately, forms (single page or multi-step) see low engagement with users because they are sometimes long and cumbersome to fill in. The more questions and choices there are, the lower the engagement. Chatbots can improve the experience by asking pointed, relevant questions within a more natural experience, improving user engagement and data collection.
  3. Easy access to thought leadership guides
    PSOs produce great quality thought leadership guides that, until recently, were managed through PDFs and printed distribution. We have seen a growing trend of digitizing this type of content. Because these guides can be extensive and only some of the content may apply to a particular client, chatbots would be a great addition to for users to find what they need more easily. Users can find answers to straight-forward questions and be pointed to relevant resources without having to browse the entire piece.
  4. Your Careers page
    When targeting law students and younger professionals for a career with you, chatbots can come in extremely handy. A chatbot can help them search for specific opportunities based on their interests or answer questions about culture and company benefits in order to share relevant answers immediately.
  5. Facebook Messenger
    Facebook has released a chatbot platform that integrates with Facebook Messenger. Since most PSOs have a presence on Facebook, a chatbot created with Facebook Messenger could be a new way to engage with your clients already familiar with you. This also comes with a web plugin that you can embed in to your website.
  6. Personalized content
    When personalization is combined with chatbots, it makes for a powerful experience for your users. Learning your users’ behavior and providing helpful tips and resources through chatbots could give your users what they need at the right time, increasing engagement. A returning user can also be presented with information relating to their previous browsing habits so they can pick up where they left off. This is one of the more sophisticated applications of chatbots but can encourage high engagement and a stand-out user experience for your audiences.

 

How do we implement it?

AI implementations, especially with natural language processing, may seem intimidating, but some big players like Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Hubspot and Google have implemented platforms that do the heavy lifting for you. in fact, some bots don’t require any coding at all to put into action. Make sure to identify which AI purposes align best with your current digital strategy and work with your digital team to set goals and choose the chat technology to best fit your needs.

Chatbots will continue to evolve and become more accessible for marketers, so discover how you can make the most of this exciting technology to help your users take full advantage of your content and your brand’s digital experience.

Vinu Krishnaswamy

Vinu is the director of solutions architecture at One North, defining technical architecture for complex marketing/IT systems and products, acting as a technology consultant for clients and working with One North’s Experience Design team to define and implement solutions that will serve the client’s objectives now and in the future.

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