The term “bot” has earned a bad reputation. We can thank spam bots — those irritating programs that spam online forums and WordPress sites — for bots’ undeserved status. However, when companies implement them properly, chatbots are great for both businesses and consumers.
For businesses, chatbots are a valuable, efficient, and cost-effective way to foster a relationship with current and prospective customers, while providing enhanced customer service. They’re also a great tool to boost revenue. Consumers benefit because they can get instant responses to their questions — no waiting for a representative to respond.
The term “bot” can refer to any sort web-based program that automates an interactive process like messaging or commenting. A chatbot is more narrowly defined as an app that interacts in real-time to customers or sales prospects. You’ve no doubt heard of AI (or artificial intelligence). Chatbots are simply a type of AI. Chatbots have become popular on company websites for customer support and pre-sales.
Since Facebook introduced chatbots, they’ve made it incredibly simple for companies to build and deploy them. What’s particularly cool about Facebook’s chatbots is that not only can they parse and understand conversational language, they get smarter from each interaction. That’s right! They actually learn from each interaction, thus why they’re considered a form of AI.
Chatbots provide value to both dispensaries and customers:
- Provide better (and more consistent) customer service: Chatbots allow you to ensure you’re not giving different answers or advice that’s inevitable with humans.
- Reduce customer service costs: Implementing a chatbot solution costs much less than paying staff. Even better, chatbots allow your staff to focus on sales rather than answering the same questions again and again.
- Give customers and patients a “virtual” in-store experience: Chatbots build trust with online customers and allow you to provide a more high-touch experience they’d expect with an in-store experience.
- Drive traffic to your website (and online ordering): Chatbots make it incredibly easy to link to your site and drive traffic to specific areas on your website. Just make sure you give them a great reason to visit your website. Nobody will respond to “check out our website.” It’s much better to drive them to a specific resource (or a promotion page).
Chatbots are still relatively new, especially in the cannabis industry. Most dispensaries aren’t using them yet, so your customers probably won’t know you have a chatbot solution unless you’re getting the word out. Here are a few tips on how to promote them:
1. Share a link to your chatbot on social media, email marketing, etc.
2. Get your customers using chatbots. Offer an incentive to try it out, like a special promo code for 10% off or a free pre-roll (subject to local laws, of course).
3. Incorporate personalized chat icons and pop-ups on your website. For example, you might provide a pop-up window with a prompt like, “Would you like to hear about our latest promotions? If yes, simply opt in on Messenger.”
Beyond dispensaries, chatbots are making a splash in the cannabis industry. There are already a number of cannabis ventures who are using chatbots in innovative ways, like for educating patients and consumers.
Here are a few companies to check out:
ABBI: Billed as the world’s first AI medical marijuana chatbot, you can find ABBI on Messenger (just search “ABBI”). This cool bot was developed by a team of cannabis doctors to provide patients with guidance on cannabis usage, including dose recommendations. They have a unique “Check Symptoms” feature to help patients find the right types of cannabis products for their symptoms or condition.
CannaBot: CannaBot helps patients and customers find dispensaries. The design is simple but effective. CannaBot leverages Messenger with Weedmaps local dispensary directory, allowing patients to place orders for delivery or in-store pickup
Chatbots are an exciting way to deliver more value to your customers. And now is the perfect time to implement a solution as it’s still new and the competition isn’t as fierce as it will soon be. It’s an interesting way to engage with your customers and enhance your digital marketing strategy!
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