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11 Ways to Use Chatbots to Offer Better, Quicker Customer Service

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When customers have a question about your product or service, they want it answered quickly no matter the time of day. Few things are worse than having a problem or question, then needing to access a website and wait several minutes for the next live customer support member to arrive in your support chat area. The same is true with support ticket platforms or emails… it shouldn’t be such an issue to have customer support times of less than an hour, if not instant. Chatbots could be the answer to this demand for lightning-fast customer service, if they are used correctly.

With social media and on-site support leading the way for many companies, chatbots are a hot, modern way to take your business to the next level. They offer real-time customer service to an audience that needs it. But how can you actually leverage chatbots within your business?

To stay up with the latest trends and advancements in chatbot technology, we asked 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council to share the best ways to integrate a chatbot on your site, or what they’ve seen while browsing through the internet and visiting various other sites.

1. Automate Common Questions

Try to automate the most common questions you receive into the messenger/chatbot. The more you are able to provide people with direct information, the better. Still, though, you should try to provide them with a direct line of communication to a living person, should they need that urgently.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

2. Give Them Simple Tasks

Though chatbots are useful, they should be used to complement your current customer service team, not replace it. Chatbots are best used to answer basic, routine questions and prioritize customer inquiries. Then, they should pass the more complex customer service problems to real staff members. This not only creates a seamless workflow, but it allows human employees to do their jobs better.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

3. Start With Really Good Research

Look at voice search analysis in your category. Look at site search data. Talk with your call center. Do keyword research. You want to figure out what your customer’s most important questions are. When executed properly, you can automate a lot of answers as many of your customers’ most pressing questions are direct and simple to answer.

Dan Golden, BFO (Be Found Online)

4. Treat Customers Like Real People

Treating customers as real people rather than numbers is always going to drive loyalty and, therefore, sales. Designing an intuitive chatbot that is able to answer a few basic questions can go a long way toward upping customer retention. We recently took a deep dive into our onboarding process and noticed that far too many users were downloading the app, but not enough were completing the registration process. We found out the main questions users faced during the registration process and adjusted our chat feature and tutorial accordingly, to much success.

Zohar Steinberg, token payments

5. Test for Quality Assurance

If your chatbot can answer your FAQs in a fast, intelligent way, you are good to go. You want to encounter any irritating misunderstandings, which have made chatbots unpopular in some cases, before your customers do. At least the bots can be on call at all times. If nothing else, an automatic response telling customers when you are next available will prevent them from feeling they have been ignored.

Derek Broman, Discount Enterprises LLC

6. Refer Customers to Your Portfolio

Automate your response to have customers call your office. That way, you can personally close the deal. Have your automation hyperlink to your portfolio and services so that the prospective lead has a good understanding of what you provide. In the meantime, you can personally close on the phone.

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

7. Offer Human Contact

Despite popular belief, many customers actually like chatbots. If they’re programmed well and provide valuable information in a short period of time, chatbots can be a valuable tool for any business. However, the most important thing in this situation is that interacting with a chatbot is a choice made by the customer. Provide the option for human contact so they can choose.

Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

8. Preload the Chatbot With Questions

I like to preload the chatbot with questions so I know that moving the prospect from one stage of the funnel to another will be a breeze. Once I have an understanding of what questions most people are asking, I can use those as conversation starters to understand the new prospects. When you leave it open, prospects may not know which questions to ask. It’s better to leave it closed-ended.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

9. Acquire Email Addresses

Have your chatbot ask the visitor for their email address to be able to follow up and convert them into a customer. Make sure the script cross-references your existing customers to keep your email lists segmented. This will ensure that you don’t email existing customers first-time customer coupons or the like.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

10. Analyze Data

One way to leverage chatbots to offer better customer service is to analyze the data gleaned from the conversation. You can use it to educate yourself on your customers’ habits and needs, and then integrate that data into business operations to improve customer service.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

11. Prioritize Customer Convenience

Chatbot technology has come a long way. For many businesses, it can be a way to better serve their customers. Improved service is the key. Though automating your business processes is usually a solid strategy, it can be tempting to take it too far. The primary goal is to give your customers the answers they need. It should be about their convenience, not only about streamlining or cutting costs.

Ismael Wrixen, FE International

Is Your Brand or Business Making the Most of AI, Automation, and Chatbots?

It’s only a matter of time before your business will need to start implementing these methods into it’s day to day operations. While you may not have made the plunge yet, it’s very likely that your competition has. Take a moment to visit your top competitors and see how they are using their websites, blogs, and social media to better engage with their audience and customers. Once you’ve found out what’s working well for them, be sure to consider these same options for your brand or online business.

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7 Reasons Why Cloud Computing in 2018 is So Important

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The market for cloud services is expected to nearly triple between 2015 and 2020. By the end of next year, it could be worth almost $170 billion. It is easy to see why, since the cloud has provided a much more cost-effective solution for storing data.

The cloud is playing a more important role in our lives every day. One of the biggest ways that cloud technology is changing our lives is by improving the scalability and versatility of online commerce and content delivery. Amazon and other large online brands developed cloud hosting services a few years ago. The solutions have become mainstream, as almost all hosting providers allow their customers to store their website data on the cloud.

Here are some of the biggest reasons that organizations are using the cloud for website hosting.

Massive scalability

The biggest benefit of cloud hosting is scalability. Neal Thoms at TechRadar shares a primer on the benefits of cloud scalability.

He points out that the cloud enables a seemingly infinite number of machines to connect and act as a single, centralized data server. Data for the same application can be distributed across various discs, which makes it much easier for organizations to increase storage space.

Expediting service delivery

After scalability, most organizations believe that cost effectiveness is the main benefit of cloud computing. However, there is at least one other benefit that is even more important.

Improving turnaround times for service delivery is a much bigger benefit for many organizations then reducing operational costs. Gartner published a case study on Easyjet that emphasized this point. Easyjet initially invested in cloud technology to reduce operating costs. However, they quickly realized that their new cloud infrastructure enabled them to deliver services much more efficiently.

Why does cloud hosting help organizations deliver services more quickly? They are able to simultaneously utilize multiple servers at once. With a traditional shared hosting service, all of the data would have been kept on a single server. The server would have a much more limited RAM., so it would face a bandwidth bottle neck after a certain threshold. The server would need to reduce its operating capacity, which would cause services to be delivered more slowly online.

This is not nearly as much of a concern with cloud hosting. The application can share data across multiple servers, so there is little risk of any individual server exceeding its capacity.

Very high uptime guarantees

Uptime is another major consideration for anybody that operates a website. According to data from Pingdom, the average uptime of all websites is 99.03%, which means that it is lower for sites that don’t use cloud hosting.

Some organizations may believe that an uptime of around 98% might be acceptable. However, that figure would mean that the site was down for over seven days every single year. If you operate a website that generates around $300 a day in revenue, a 98% uptime rate will mean that your site is losing over $2,000 in revenue each year.

Downtime is not nearly as much of a concern with cloud hosting. The average uptime for even the cheapest cloud hosting services is around 99.99%. This means that a website using cloud hosting service will only be down for around 52 minutes and 32 seconds over the course of an entire year. That would reduce the $2,000 in losses from the hypothetical business listed above to less than $10 each year.

Some cloud hosting services are so confident in their uptime, that they have actually started guaranteeing 100% uptime. Vultr is among them. If your site ever goes down, Vultr will give you an SLA credit.

Flexible privacy options

Privacy is another important consideration when choosing a hosting service. The levels of privacy that you need will obviously vary based on the nature of your website applications.

Some data is intended to be freely accessible to almost anybody with an Internet connection. If the goal is to share data with the world, then you will want a public hosting solution. On the other hand, some data needs to be very carefully secured. In these circumstances, do you need a much more private hosting option.

Cloud hosting solutions cover a wide range of privacy options. You can buy public, private or hybrid hosting for your website. A private cloud option enables you to use a hosting infrastructure made of both cloud and bare metal dedicated servers.  Private hosting is vital for companies that need to keep certain data very secure, such as companies that are subject to HIPAA regulations.

You have a lot of control over the privacy options of your hosting when you purchase a hybrid hosting service. You can insure that some data is heavily restricted, while other data is freely available.

Cheaper hosting costs for small scale projects

The logistics of cloud hosting are different from shared or dedicated hosting options. This is why there is such a strong debate about the cost effectiveness of cloud computing. Many experts argue that cloud services are intrinsically more affordable, while others have argued that they are more expensive.

Which set of experts is wrong? The answer is that neither of them are wrong. They probably have different experiences with customers of different sizes, so their perceptions are going to be different.

In order to make a cost benefit analysis of a cloud hosting service, you need to recognize that the pricing structure is not linear. Using cloud hosting for larger applications places more strain on a larger number of cloud servers. Hosting providers have a more difficult time distributing your resources across different servers as your website content and bandwidth increase. They are still able to accomplish this without compromising uptime, but they need to compensate by charging you at a higher pricing tier.

On the other hand, hosting smaller websites on the cloud is much easier. Since the hosting provider has far more resources to allocate your data to, they are able to offer much cheaper pricing for smaller websites than traditional shared and dedicated hosting plans.

Ensuring better content delivery for global customers

An organization’s challenges are going to depend on the size of its global footprint. Some organizations have websites that cater to people in a specific region. This means they can easily ensure the fastest content delivery and best user experience by purchasing a hosting plan that uses a server in those parts of the world. Companies that reach customers all over the world will find it is much more difficult to satisfy them with traditional hosting solutions.

Cloud hosting platforms offer content delivery networks. They make sure that the customer is connected to a server near their location, which ensures that they can receive the fastest possible content delivery and the lowest risk of downtime.

Greater confidence among prominent customers

Prominent customers that subscribe to online services are going to have much higher expectations than your average website visitor. They are paying a premium for services, so they are going to insist that they have very reliable experiences.

While you could theoretically meet their needs with a VPS or even a dedicated hosting service, that may not be enough. The perception is also very important. They are going to feel more confident in your online service if you emphasize that your website uses cloud hosting.

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New Decentralised Lead Generation Methods with Snovio

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Once upon a time, there was just one television channel. If you wanted to watch anything on TV, this was the only channel available and you were at the mercy of the broadcast schedule. The only thing you could watch at 4 pm on a Thursday was whatever they were airing then. Times have changed, of course, and it’s hardly unusual to have access to literally hundreds of channels through a regular cable subscription, not to mention on-demand and the nearly limitless possibilities of online streaming. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

In many ways, the art and science of running a successful business today is similar to that. You’re literally overwhelmed by the amount of information available at your fingertips and the real challenge is separating the signal from the noise. When it comes to lead generation, how can you discover the right people quickly and efficiently? This is where the email finder from Snovio comes into play, but the platform itself continues to evolve beyond that.

Find the Right People Faster

Before we get to some of the more recent developments from Snovio, let’s explore its core service.

With Snovio, you are armed with a multi-faceted tool that has been designed specifically for lead generation. Fueled primarily through the free Chrome extension, the access and interface it offers makes it very approachable for just about anyone. Snovio will go wherever you go on the web, so when the opportunity strikes to nab a prized lead, you can do that in just a couple of clicks.

Snovio email finder works by allowing you to grab email addresses of prospective leads and contacts as you make your way around the Internet. This includes finding email addresses on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as company webpages and other websites. Using the Snovio Chrome extension, you can nab these contacts and nurture the leads as you see fit. Finding anemail address is the first step, but Snovio also works as an email verifier to ensure that the messages you send to these retrieved email addresses won’t bounce.

Features for Finding Information

When you are browsing your way around LinkedIn you can do a “bare search” on the professional social network. When you land on the profile of someone of interest, you can use Snovio to uncover their email address. There is also the Prospect Search tool that strives to find “just the profiles you are seeking.”

Snovio extends this capability across a number of other possible scenarios. For example, the Domain Search tool helps you uncover the names, job positions and email addresses of people associated with a certain web domain. You can also explore the database of company information collected and curated by Snovio to find even more contacts.

Better still, you can get started on Snovio with their forever free plan that provides you with 100 credits each month. If your needs outgrow it, monthly plans start as low as $19 for 1,000 credits, $49 for 5,000 credits and beyond. These credits can be used for verifying LinkedIn emails, performing domain searches, doing bulk domain searches and much more.

Snovio Marketplace

You may have heard of Snovio before and you may have even used their Chrome extension before, as they’ve been around for about a year now. Just recently, in the first quarter of 2018, Snovio launched a blockchain-based marketplace that further amplifies your lead generation possibilities.

The Snovio Marketplace is compelling because it extends beyond the already extensive Snovio database of contacts. If you haven’t found just the right person already (or you don’t have the time to perform the search), you can post your specific request with the number and parameters of the prospects you’d like to get on the Marketplace. Once posted, other users can build up a list of contact data for you in exchange for SNOV tokens. That’s the cryptocurrency supporting this decentralized, blockchain-based marketplace.

You can purchase SNOV tokens using your regular credit card or transfer funds from your Ethereum (ETH) wallet. It’s up to you to set the reward sum in SNOV tokens, knowing that a higher reward will likely attract better and faster results. When you get the results you want, they can be validated and the reward can then be released to the contributor.

Go Direct With Snovian.Space

With the Chrome extension, you tap into the remarkably impressive Snovio email finder and database. With the Snovio Marketplace, you tap into the collective knowledge of a growing number of Snovio contributors who want to fulfill your more specific requests for particular contacts and leads. Going one step above that is Snovian Space, which also uses the SNOV cryptocurrency.

While the Snovio Marketplace is designed so that contributors help you unearth the contact information of prospects, Snovian.Space allows you to make a more direct connection with the prospects themselves. Similarly to the Marketplace, you post a request for a particular kind of contact that you’re looking for, offering a reward in the form of SNOV tokens. It’s a token airdrop. If you prefer, you can use other ERC20 tokens for airdrops too.

Once the request is released, people who fit your specifications and parameters can indicate that they’re interested in being contacted by you. They are rewarded directly with SNOV cryptocurrency for providing their contact information, and you get the lead that you desire. It’s win-win for everyone in a decentralized infrastructure that can theoretically be scaled infinitely.

The scale extends well beyond the “shared connections” you have on a platform like LinkedIn offering you the ability to connect with people directly. Instead of going through an intermediary advertising system in hopes of connecting with the right prospects, businesses can pay these contacts directly by way of offering SNOV tokens. It’s much more transparent and ultimately more effective.

The Future of Snovio

Snovio has come a very long way in a relatively short amount of time. The core database, accessible through the Chrome extension, is already an extremely powerful lead generation tool. The introduction of the Snovio Marketplace and Snovian.Space provides new powerful solutions to the same fundamental challenge all businesses face with: finding the right people quickly and efficiently.

Moving forward through Snovio’s timeline, we can look forward to a proprietary mailing list module, email tracking, data enrichment, a form builder, live chat, lead scoring and even content AI. They’ve got a lot in the works, giving us just a glimpse into the potential of what can be achieved with Snovio.

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GDPR Rules, Fines and Compliance – What You Need to Know

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As most business people know, taking care of sensitive and personal data of customers is of the utmost importance. Failing to do this could see you getting on the wrong side of your customers and the wrong side of the law – and the penalties can be severe. In the past, the Data Protection Act has provided regulations and guidelines to help businesses to implement data protection policies. However, this is now changing with the introduction of the GDPR.

How will this affect your current business and email marketing efforts?

The biggest question is always what needs to be done next to make sure you are compliant. iContact answers this easy enough with the following statement from the site:

The good news is, if you are already following email marketing best practices and asking your subscribers for permission to join your email lists via a subscription form on your website or requiring the subscriber to tick a box on your ecommerce site (and you can prove this ), you are well on your way to GDPR compliance.

Just like CAN-SPAM came out several years ago, and caused a big fuss, GDPR will likely do the same but everyone (and all of the major solution providers) will make compliance process quite simple and direct.

In order to ensure you do not end up being penalized as a result of failing to implement these new regulations properly, it is important to keep up with the latest developments. Businesses that do not follow these new regulations, which are due to come into play within a matter of weeks, could find themselves facing serious consequences. These regulations are all linked to how data is handled by businesses and it is important for all businesses, large and small, to get to grips with them.

Just like any new laws and regulations that are about to go into place, they have some hefty fines lined up for anyone looking to be made an example of. Imperva has a nice write-up and infographic on the new laws, and their associated fines as well. As you will see from the infographic below, the fines associated with the GDPR are quite high… with maximum fines hitting the $22 million range! In short, prepare your business now, or pay the price later on!

Fortunately, the government has already put a lot of information online about the GDPR, so those with lack of understanding can make sure they do their research to find out what needs to be done. Furthermore, specialist experts from specific industries are being taken on so that businesses can turn to someone with expertise in their specific industry in order to ensure they are following the new regulations to the letter.

One thing to remember is that your business does not have to be located within the EU in order to be tied to these regulations. The regulations also apply to businesses that are not in the EU but that sell products and services to others that are in the EU. Therefore, make sure you do not ignore these regulations just because of the location of your business, as you may find that they also apply to you because of the location of your customers.

How to Prepare for the GDPR Going Live on May 25th, 2018

As fun as it is to read up on all of these new laws and legal jargon, it’s much more exciting to watch a short video that breaks it all down. Not only will you learn more about what GDPR is, but you will also discover eleven things you need to make sure you have in place before May 25th hits and the law goes into effect.

An even better and more detailed resource on how to keep your business safe and compliant is this Forbes article on how the GDPR will affect advertising and e-commerce. With nearly all websites, blogs, and online businesses collecting emails, data, or placing cookies on their visitor’s computers, this is something we all need to be aware of.

How to Stay Up to Date with the Latest GDPR News

Since the new regulations are only just coming in, there may be some teething problems to begin with. This means that there is a chance there could be some changes and adaptations to begin with. In order to ensure you continue to implement the regulations properly, you should keep on top of any chances and developments. You can also hire the services of experts to help you get to grips with the GDPR as well as to help keep you informed as and when any changes are made.

With the introduction of the new regulations, all countries within the EU can benefit from the same data protection laws, which can help to make things much fairer and far easier to understand. Having different sets of rules from one EU country to another could be confusing and frustrating for both customers and businesses. Experts believe that these new regulations will help make things far easier to manage and understand as well as ensuring fairness across all EU countries.

However… only time will tell, and it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out after GDPR goes into affect.

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