How You can Engage and Retain Customers with AI

This piece was specially written for the Tony Robbins blog by technology entrepreneur and artificial intelligence expert, Ben Lamm.

Anyone who runs their own business knows that customers are everything. They’re the backbone of a successful company, and they can be the most difficult to keep happy. Achieving real customer satisfaction is part of the thrill of entrepreneurship, but it’s also one of its great stressors.

I previously wrote about how AI can help your small business. AI is becoming more affordable, accessible, and easier to implement, and as it becomes more feasible for small businesses to incorporate, entrepreneurs are realizing how valuable the technology can be. From website building to copyediting, AI can serve as your jack of all trades. But perhaps the biggest difference that AI can make for your company is through the way you interact with customers. AI can help you achieve higher quality customer engagement without requiring any more of your time.

Engagement 24/7

Just as your business now requires a social media presence so that your customers can find and contact you, AI interactions will soon be must-haves for your company. Customers are coming to expect quick and automated information when and how they need it. Most customers expect near-instantaneous responses to their query, and they want the option to connect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That demand is not something that can be easily met by most small businesses manually.

Still, if you’re like most business owners, you’re probably hesitant to hand over customer satisfaction to an AI. You live or die by your customers, and automating those engagements seems dangerous or crazy. I get it. But the truth is, your customers more than likely want an automated response to their questions, especially when it’s convenient, accurate, and always available. As long as their question gets answered, or their problem is resolved, the how doesn’t matter to customers.

In fact, the 2018 State of Chatbots Report found that 69% of consumers prefer chatbots for quick communication with brands. By implementing an AI chatbot in your small business, you speak to this majority and better serve you customer needs — answering their simple questions and making connections 24/7, and communicating through the channels they actually prefer.

The New Engagement Ratio

Some small business owners would love to be able to incorporate an AI chatbot. They just don’t think it’s possible at their company’s stage. However, despite what you may believe, you don’t need a huge website to take advantage of this technology. Facebook proved this when they enabled business owners of any size to utilize their Facebook Messenger automatic chat option.

It’s estimated that people exchange 2 billion messages with businesses over Facebook Messenger alone every month. Add to that potential Twitter or Instagram direct messages, SMS texts, and other channels that your customers will inevitably adopt, and you’ll see customers are eager to interact with their favorite businesses. The number of messaging app users in the United States will reach almost 150 million this year — over 45% of the population. The truth is, if you’re not a part of these conversations, you’re missing out on potentially transformative customer interactions and impeding the growth of your own business.

Of course, you can’t be expected to manage all these potential channels. The good news is that you don’t have to, and your customers don’t even necessarily want you to. A recent Gartner report declared that 85% of customer interactions will be automated by 2020. This is invaluable time saved for you and your customers. After all, the other 15% — that is, the 15% which cannot and should not be automated — is where you need to be dedicating your energy. These are the interactions with the real potential for upsell and the opportunity to deepen brand loyalty. Without the aid of a chatbot, you run the risk of losing these conversations amid the noise of simple questions.

Chatbots that can answer customer queries, solve easy problems they may have, and know how to escalate a situation to a human when needed are necessary for businesses today. They allow you to direct your focus on moving the customer needle, not just addressing the same customer questions.

Your New Customer Success Agent

AI can help you become competitive and improve retention. By answering customers’ questions, making them feel welcome, and generally serving as the automated, always-on brand rep every small business needs, AI ensures your customers feel heard. In turn, this enables your business to grow.

Every entrepreneur I know is hungry for growth, so let AI help. With how far the technology has come, AI is now something your business can get started with today, without major investments of time, money and expertise. Your customers don’t have to know how easy it really is..

About Ben Lamm:

Ben Lamm is a serial technology entrepreneur dedicated to making the impossible possible. He builds intelligent, disruptive software companies that help the Fortune 500 innovate with breakthrough technologies. Ben is the co-founder, Executive Chairman, and CEO of Hypergiant, the office of machine intelligence. Previously, he was the co-founder and CEO of Conversable, the leading conversational intelligence platform acquired by LivePerson, the founder and CEO of Chaotic Moon Studios, the global creative technology powerhouse acquired by Accenture and Team Chaos, acquired by Zynga.

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