The days of having to be in the office all day are long gone. In today's world, it is much more common for a small business owner or side hustler to work from home or elsewhere.
But the problem is that especially when we're growing our small business or side hustle, we can't get anything done because we're "at work."
The solution? Automation!
In this article, we will discuss how Facebook chatbots can help you automate your small business, so you can focus on what matters most without being glued to your desk.
What is Automation?
Automation is when we can use technology to do tasks or processes in a business that other people would have to do manually.
Examples of these tasks could be taking orders, answering simple questions, asking for details for an appointment, reminding people of their booking--the list goes on.
Automation can help you:
Minimize cost - you won't need to hire as many peopleIncrease efficiency - you'll be able to do things fasterStreamline the work - a standard process can help keep things from being complicated
It's not just for big businesses: sometimes, smaller businesses are the ones who need the most automation help! We're still making our mark on the world, so we need all the help and all the time in the world.
Of course, automation is not a silver bullet. It is not a substitute for time, ingenuity or personal touch. The key word here is "helps." Automation will help you be more efficient and productive--but it does take some work at the beginning to set up.
So let's get started!
Step One: What Do You Need Automated?
It's important to first pinpoint exactly what you need automated. This will help you create achievable goals that will be of the greatest impact to your business.
There are many tasks that can be automated, and these can be very dependent on what business or side hustle you are running.
Criteria for Great Automation
If you're wondering what makes a task great to be automated, ask yourself these following questions:
- Does this task take a lot of "hands on" or manual time to finish, more than a couple of hours per month?
- Does this task happen a lot? A few times a month or even more?
- Is this task made up of 5-10 or more steps?
- Do you need to collect information from this task and does it involve multiple files (i.e. Word or Excel files, chat logs, bookkeeping records, etc)?
- If something goes wrong, is there significant cost to correcting it (i.e. it takes time to correct, it causes customer complaints, etc)?
- Is this task dependent on one or a few persons being available and is difficult to pass on if they are not around?
If you answered yes to many of the above questions, your task might be a great fit.
Examples of Tasks for Automation
If you need more help, here are some examples of tasks that do really well with automation:
- Taking orders from customers if your product list does not change frequently
- Taking your customers' information for booking appointments or delivery details
- Answering routine / simple questions from customers like pricing, bestsellers, sizing details, reseller information, etc.
- Assigning complex questions to the right staff/customer service agents
- Collating all your orders for the day to fulfill the next day
- Formatting your customers' information to be useful for your staff
- Coming up with a list of locations to be delivered to
- Monitoring order and delivery status for ongoing orders
- Sending your customers or mailing list participants your latest products or promotions
All these tasks might seem trivial enough since some of them might take only "minutes" to do. After all, it's fairly fast enough to take down someone's name, mobile number, and details, in order to secure their booking. It's fast enough to copy-paste a formula answer when someone asks for sizing details on those dresses you're selling.
However, these minutes add up to hours and days, as well as multiplied by the number of customers you're dealing with. Over a month, you might be surprised to find out just how much time you're ending up talking to customers just to take their name and details for appointment booking.
Step Two: Define Your Goals
It's important to set your goals before you start working on automating the task. This will help you figure out if you're doing well!
Are you looking to free up your time? Are you looking to be able to transition your staff to another role? Are you hoping to raise your customers' satisfaction by being able to answer their queries quickly?
You can't automate the task without first defining what you're trying to accomplish. For example, if your goal is to free up time for other tasks, then it makes sense that automating a customer service chatbot would be ideal because this will allow you to take care of more customers in less time.
Maybe you have a large amount of orders, and you aren't able to attend to everyone talking to you to order. That's a great sign that automation will be able to help you. An order-taking chatbot will be able to handle the majority of your online queries and orders, while you can focus on in-person or telephone orders.
Set your goals first so that you know what you need to do to achieve it!
Step Three: Set Up Your Chatbot
A chatbot is a computer program that uses text or speech interactions with humans to have a "conversation" or provide information. They are great for quickly automating certain tasks for your business!
While chatbots won't wrap your packages for you, they can talk to your customers, answer their questions, take their orders, and more. It's like having your own personal assistant working for you 24/hours a day without the need to pay someone else!
You can set up your chatbot on your own, but if you're a busy business owner it might be easier to hire someone else to do it. A provider like Chatbuddy will have the expertise you need to translate your requirements into a great automated chatbot.
The important thing here is to make sure your chatbot is positioned to achieve your goals. Focus on one thing first before trying to do everything else. This will help you make sure your chatbot is working as intended.
Important Tips For Integrating Your New Chatbot
- Think of your chatbot as an extension of your team. How will this new team member work with the rest of your business? What will be its primary tasks? If your chatbot will be taking customer orders online, who or where does it send the orders to?
- Make sure your team is introduced properly to your chatbot. For example, if you're setting up your chatbot to book appointments, make sure your staff has access to the appointment logs, so they can check when your customers actually come in.
- If you're working on a customer service chatbot, make sure you check with your staff on the most frequent questions and problems that they encounter. This will help you figure out what questions your chatbot can handle and which will be best to hand off to a human agent.
- Just like any new staff member, your chatbot is part of your business. The words it uses and the tone of its voice depends on you! Think about how you'd like your customers to experience your business, and give your chatbot personality.
- If you're using any computer or online tool to help you manage your business, look into possibly having your chatbot interface with them. This will help minimize the work involved for you, whether it's in moving information over or re-training yourself and your staff.
Step Four: Launch Your Chatbot
The time has come! Your chatbot is ready for prime time. Are you ready?
Is your staff trained with how to interact with your chatbot for the tasks they need to do?Have you given your chatbot a personality?Do you have a launch plan?
Your launch plan doesn't need to be complicated. In truth, you can just turn that chatbot on, and you won't have to worry about anything!
But chatbots can be great for marketing and improving customer experience. After all, you're expanding your business, so you can serve your customers better!
You can use the launch of your chatbot to drive more sales or bookings. Highlight that customers won't need to wait too long to have someone take their order.
For customer service chatbots, promote the fact that the chatbot will be able to answer their questions 24/7 this time. Of course, assure them that a human agent will always be around if their question is complex.
Letting your customers know that you have a chatbot is a great opportunity for them to rediscover your brand. Don't lose this opportunity to make a great impression!
Step Five: Monitor Your Chatbot
Naturally, you'll need to come back to your chatbot every so often to see how well it's doing. Remember those goals you set up earlier? Go back to them and see how the chatbot is doing with meeting those goals.
For instance, if your goal was to get more leads by using a Facebook Messenger bot, you could see what percentage of people are messaging you and the amount of quality leads you're getting.
If you're looking to handle more orders, check if you're doing better than when you were taking orders manually. Check in with your staff if needed; they may have valuable inputs on how well your chatbot is doing.
See if there are too many instances of your customers opting to talk to human agents instead of your chatbot. This might be a sign that your chatbot isn't trained enough to handle your customers issues. If this is the case, don't worry! Just retrain your chatbot and things will get better.
Automating one process in your small business is just the start. The more you automate, the better your business will be. After all, you'll have more time to focus on things that matter to you and the business.
Try different chatbots to see which ones are best for your customers’ needs. For example, if one of your customer segments is based in a specific province or has a certain language preference, perhaps they might appreciate a chatbot for them.
Your chatbot should also grow over time. Monitor how well your chatbot is meeting your customers' needs. Can you cut down the steps needed for your customers to reach their goal? Or are there words or phases your chatbot is using that your customers get confused with, that you can change?
Finally, if your first goal is performing well, you can start expanding your chatbot's tasks to other things, too. This way, your chatbot can continue to grow as your business is growing, and meet your needs at the same time.
There are many benefits to automating your business using a Facebook chatbot. There is no one-size-fits all approach so make sure you dedicate time and research in order to find the best option for yourself!
It's easy to get started with automating your business. Just pick a specific task and an achievable goal, and go from there. You'll find that you've got a great automated helper for your business in no time!