I’ve been known to make a lot of jokes about the rise of the machines and the Terminator franchise when it comes to the current uptick in AI-generated and ChatGPT content. At first, it bothered me. We’re trying to learn how to use chatbots and other tools that could supplant us.
Being replaced by a machine never feels good. But then, I thought about the creation of the wheel. Were there people who complained about using it because their jobs of carrying things had been replaced? Probably.
Change is hard.
But if that change allows you to become more efficient, why wouldn’t you? We all have more to do than there are hours in the day. And there are some things that simply don’t need your touch. You could be saving time, money, and aggravation.
Still not sure about using AI and chatbots to streamline efficiencies in your chamber? That’s to be expected. How many of the following hesitations do you (or your board) have?
Most Common Chatbot and Technology Adoption Hesitations
When you hear the word “technology” or “technology trend” you probably either get excited or look for the nearest exit. Early adopters thrill at the idea of something new that can make them more efficient and are generally willing to work out the kinks in the process.
But there are sometimes reasons to sit on the sidelines and wait.
- Steep learning curve (or fear of one). With every new technology, there’s something to learn or work out.
- Cost. New technology is often more expensive (at first) than it is later down the line. There is often a training cost as well. One exception to this has been the AI chatbot auto-generative systems. Many of them are free (currently).
- Resistance to change. Change is hard. Lots of unknowns. It’s easier to stay where you are, doing what you know.
- Implementation downtime. No one wants to stop what they’re doing to implement new tech because of the time required both in implementation and learning. It’s difficult to pick an ideal time to make a switch.
- Fear of failure. When you try something new it could fail. Again, no one wants this especially if they spearheaded the project and believe they will be blamed should something go wrong.
Now that we’ve covered why people are hesitant to implement new tech and learn how to use chatbots and other forms of AI, let’s talk about why this doesn’t apply to the newest trend. Chatbots are past the hype and considered to be in the early majority stage of the Technology Adoption Lifecycle, especially for business customer service usages. It’s time for chambers to get onboard to save hours of time, money, and frustration.
No, really. Promise.
What Is a Chatbot?
Chatbots are used a lot these days. It’s likely you’ve already used one today if you’ve visited a non-chamber website. A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate human conversation powered by artificial intelligence.
Chatbots originally found their fame in a customer service application and those uses can be very powerful for a chamber.
How to Use Chatbots to Serve Your Chamber Members 24/7
Unlike the helpful person who sits at your chamber’s front desk, chatbots are always available. They don’t eat, sleep, take breaks, or have family obligations. They can’t get frustrated, they don’t feel annoyance or fear or impatience and they will not stop until someone gets the information they need. They can answer the same questions over and over on a continual basis to multiple people at a time.
Wouldn’t you like to free up yourself or another staff member from having to answer the same questions day in and day out?
If you learn how to use chatbots, you can streamline your chamber’s daily tasks. Here’s what you can do with them to start saving time and effort.
Address Commonly Asked Questions
What are the most common questions you get at the chamber? Instead of answering the same things over and over, you can install a chatbot on your website to answer common questions like:
- How much is membership?
- How do I join the chamber?
- When is the next event?
- How do I get tickets to xyz event?
- How do I schedule a ribbon cutting?
- What is the chamber’s position on xyz?
- Who’s on the board?
- How do I join the Young Professionals Group?
While you might get tired of answering the same questions over and over and over again, a chatbot never will. It will never get tired or bored or frustrated. Plus, it’s available 24/7. These seemingly quick questions eat up a lot of your time both time on phone (or email depending on how they decide to ask you for the information). It also takes significant time to figure out and get back to what you were working on before the interruption.
Simple, common information requests shouldn’t have to wait on someone who’s available to take a call or respond electronically. If the asker has to wait for an answer they may decide not to act on whatever their interest was. Not a big deal if they just wanted to know what time the parade is. But a HUGE deal if they wanted to join and you make it hard for them to do it. By the time you are, they may have reconsidered. Purchases are largely governed by “in the moment” thinking.
Collect Member or Visitor Feedback
You can also use chatbots to get feedback on the chamber from site visitors as soon as they start to leave. That way their experience is fresh in their mind and they’re already on site anyway. It’s a less disruptive solution if you want to know what they think about your website or services. You may even be able to use some of the feedback in testimonials or reviews.
Chambers can use chatbots to recommend events based on other interests. For instance, if someone signs up online for an event designed around networking, the chatbot is there to suggest or remind about the following networking event. This can also be used if you sell products or services as well.
Improve Customer Engagement
Chatbots can help chambers improve member engagement by providing a more personalized and engaging experience. Instead of using the search button to find their answer, visitors can have a conversation about their needs and find exactly what they’re looking for, whenever they want it no matter what day or time.
Why Chatbots Make Sense for Chambers
While a lot of technology starts out very expensive and becomes less so over time (remember the cost of large screen TVs when they first emerged on the scene?), chatbots are very affordable now at about $50-100 per month.
If that sounds expensive and outside of your chamber budget, consider the following:
- How many hours a month do you (and your staff) spend answering frequently asked questions or creating and collecting survey results?
- What do these individuals make an hour?
- If hours per month X hourly wages plus taxes, insurance and workers comp = < $100, then it’s a bargain.
Secondarily, the chatbot is available on evenings, weekends and “way too early in the morning.” That means you’re less likely to spend mornings and Mondays returning messages and answering questions that could be answered by your chatbot. And, as mentioned earlier, if someone wants to make an emotional purchase or needs an immediate answer to their off-hours questions they won’t be frustrated by waiting on an answer. That’s worth a lot in the member satisfaction department.
The investment, start up, and learning curve are small on chatbots. With many businesses adopting them, they’re becoming the expectation for quick answers. Chatbots are a lot more intuitive and engaging than a search feature and likely keep vistors on the page longer, which also helps with “time on page” stats and search results.
Overall, chatbots offer a number of benefits that can help chambers improve customer service and experience, reduce costs, improve member engagement, and increase membership sales. Learning how to use chatbots is no longer just for big tech companies and airlines. It’s becoming a mainstream part of internet users’ daily experience.