The chatbot marketplace might not be too crowded yet but it soon will be. Companies of all sizes are beginning to recognize the value that chatbots offer and are rushing to deploy their own. If you want your chatbot to be noticed and used, it’s going to need to stand out. Here are ten things an effective chatbot will need to have.

Good natural language processing

Without some good natural language processing power behind your chatbot, it won’t be able to understand what people are saying to it unless they use the exact wording you teach it to recognize. Human speech is complex and there are hundreds of ways to word the simplest sentences. So there’s lots of room for your chatbot to fail if it can’t determine meaning from syntax.

Proactivity

Chatbots are still new technology and many customers won’t think to reach out to your chatbot. Your chatbot is going to have to be proactive and able to initiate conversations with customers.

Integration

Your chatbot will need to have access to relevant information and may need to be able to assist customers with completing purchases depending on what you’re using it for. That means your chatbot will need to be integrated with social media platforms and ecommerce tools.

Simple, well-defined features

If you try to program a chatbot to do too many things, it will fail spectacularly at all of them. Chatbot programming is very complex so you’re better off developing a chatbot that handles only a few simple and well-defined tasks. At least at first. Later on you can add more features while ensuring that it doesn’t become less effective at doing what it was programmed to do initially.

Ability to deliver on promises

A chatbot that can’t do what you claim it can do is going to do more harm than good. If it fails at 50% of customer service interactions, it’s going to hurt your brand and tax your human customer service agents who will just have another thing people are calling in to complain about.

Logical structure

Think about how customer service interactions progress naturally with a human. You want to mimic that experience with your chatbot. You don’t want to overwhelm customers by having your chatbot present a list of options right up front. Instead you want it to ask the right questions and progress logically down a certain path to accurately help the customer.

A fail-safe

You don’t want your chatbot to get stuck in a cycle. For instance, if your chatbot goes down the wrong path, either because of a mistake on the customer’s part or a failed attempt at natural language processing, you want it to be able to back up a step, or, if necessary, transfer the customer to a live agent that can assist over chat.

Predictive capabilities

A good chatbot will keep improving over time. It will learn from failed interactions and begin to pick up on patterns so it can predict what a customer is getting at more quickly and provide faster assistance.

Personality

One of the trickiest things about programming a chatbot is programming it with a personality. Psychologists have been studying personality for more than a hundred years are no closer to understanding what it is and how it develops not to mention that everyone has different preferences when it comes to personality. Your goal should probably be a bot that’s pleasant and helpful but overall neutral in the personality department.

Frequent optimizations

A chatbot is not something you set and forget. It will need constant monitoring and fine-tuning. By regularly releasing updates and optimizations for your chatbot, you’ll ensure that it gets better and better at assisting your customers.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: entrepreneur.com/article/297707

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The concept of texting was first conceived in the early 80s as a second generation cell-standard that would allow users to send short messages in text form. It wasn’t made available to the public until a decade later in 1992. The first text message was sent at a party organized to celebrate the occasion. The message: “Merry Christmas.” Today, trillions and trillions of text messages have been exchanged by humans. While virtually every other aspect of mobile technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in that time, the SMS protocol is virtually unchanged with many cellphone providers still limiting text messages to the 160 character limit. Messaging apps like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook’s Messenger, Whatsapp, and WeChat (China’s most popular messaging service), on the other hand, have evolved quite a bit and as a result, for the first time since SMS was introduced, the number of texts being sent is on the decline.

Many people are moving their text-based communications to messaging apps because they support many features that aren’t included with the SMS protocol. Now, the cellphone industry’s biggest players are teaming up to reverse this trend by introducing a new text message protocol: Rich Communication Services, or RCS.

What is RCS?

For quite a while now, mobile phone users have been able to use SMS to send photos, videos, and even short video or audio files. But the evolution of SMS has stalled there. RCS looks to change that by introducing more multimedia and group chat features to the old SMS protocol. One major upgrade that RCS would offer is that users would be able to send and receive text messages over the internet even if they don’t have cell service. This is something that iPhone users already have by default since the default text message protocol for iphones is Apple’s iMessage. While many apps support this, it isn’t always convenient since all parties involved in a group conversation must have the same app. A person who doesn’t have an iPhone can’t participate in a conversation via iMessage and a person who hasn’t downloaded What’sApp wouldn’t be able to send and receive messages via that application. RCS, on the other hand, would be a new standard that works across all mobile phones. Features would include the ability to more easily create and edit group chats, the ability to send higher quality photos and videos via text, the ability to send and receive read receipts, and indicators to let text senders know when a recipient has received their text and when that person is typing a response.

The hangup

Creating a successor to the SMS protocol requires participation of all the major providers and not all of them are on board yet. SMS is still extremely popular despite the recent decline and many still don’t see the need for RCS. Still, RCS seems like an inevitability as messaging apps continue to take over the market share of text-based messaging.

Implications

RCS has huge implications for mobile marketers who will soon have at their disposal many more features to incorporate into text message marketing campaigns. The ability to send readable receipts via text as opposed to links to online versions, for instance, will be a huge improvement. Access to more multimedia options will allow marketers to provide customers with a more media-rich experience than the medium currently allows and that experience will be made more immediate since media can be embedded right into the message itself instead of having to include links that people may or may not click on.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: digitaltrends.com/mobile/what-is-rcs-messaging/

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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (or TCPA) was passed by Congress in 1991 to protect consumers from annoying telephone calls they didn’t wish to receive and to impose a penalty on companies or marketers that continued to call consumers who did not wish to receive marketing phone calls. The TCPA was expanded to include texting when companies began to use SMS to send promotional messages to consumers. Despite clear rules about what businesses can and can’t do when it comes to contacting consumers by phone or text, many businesses still aren’t compliant.

In 2016 alone, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which oversees the TCPA received more than 4 billion complaints from US consumers about unwanted calls and texts. Many of these complaints were from customers who were still getting calls or texts after repeated requests for them to stop. Often these complaints led to litigation and fines for companies that weren’t compliant with TCPA regulations. To avoid this happening to your business, it’s important to know what the TCPA says about SMS marketing and to know how to be compliant.

The TCPA and texting

Though there are many smaller rules that are good to know regarding the TCPA and sending texts, there are really only two big ones. The first is that businesses must obtain permission from consumers before sending them text messages. The second is that they must also make it clear to consumers how they may opt-out of receiving future texts should they change their minds. Sending texts before receiving permission or after permission has been revoked is a violation of the TCPA and can result in fines or even lawsuits.

Staying compliant

Where most businesses get into trouble with the FCC is when they attempt to manage their own phone number database. Phone numbers of customers that have chosen to opt out may not be removed quickly enough or they may accidentally not get removed at all. The simplest way for businesses to ensure that their SMS campaign is TCPA compliant is to use a bulk SMS service that automates opt-ins and opt-outs. Often, this is done through a short code where a customer can text a predetermined keyword to a registered short code (a 5- or 6-digit number) to opt-in. This triggers an automatic text message to the consumer’s phone informing them that they have opted in and detailing how they may opt out.

With every subsequent text message, there will be directions to opt out. Typically, this is done by replying to the text message with the word “stop.” By using a SMS marketing platform, the phone number list is always kept up to date so you’re guaranteed to be compliant with the TCPA.

How the TCPA benefits you

While the TCPA might seem to you like annoying regulations and unfair meddling by the federal government, it actually benefits you as a business owner. Since you’re paying per text, TCPA regulations ensure that you’re only sending texts to people who want to receive them and those are the people most likely to convert on promotional messages anyways.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: morningconsult.com/opinions/agencies-ensure-enforcement-unwanted-robocalls-texts/

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SMS marketing is arguably the most powerful marketing channel you have at your disposable as a small business owner. But if you bought into SMS marketing assuming it would be effective right from the start, you may be disappointed. Like all forms of marketing, you need to constantly adapt and improve your SMS marketing strategy over time. Here are seven ways you can improve its effectiveness.

Clarity and conciseness

If your texts are too wordy, many mobile phone service providers will break into two or even three parts. The cap is usually 160 characters which includes punctuation marks and even spaces. This may cause the messages to be read out of order or ignored entirely. Even if the message is received in a single text, you want to be concise because recipients are more likely to read it from beginning to end. A good strategy is to include a call to action where you tell the recipient exactly what course of action you want him/her to take.

Good timing is key

The timing of text messages matters. For one, you don’t want to message too early or too late in the day when customers might get annoyed. Some products are time sensitive as well. For instance, you wouldn’t want to advertise a lunch special in the evening. Spacing out your messages is important as well. Most business texting platforms allow you to write a text in advance and set the time to send it.

It’s all about variety

Mix up your offers. Different customers will be influenced by different things. Keep switching things up so that there’s something of interest for each of your customers.

Target your audience

Since you’re spending money for each text you send, you want to make sure that you’re not wasting any money sending messages to people who won’t be receptive. Getting people to subscribe is half the battle. It’s important to get people to subscribe for a couple reasons. First of all it’s required by law that you get customers’ permission first before texting them. Second, it ensures that at the very least, everyone receiving your texts wants to receive them. After that it’s a matter of finding out what motivates your audience and adjusted your message to target them.

Allow customers to opt out

Just as you must obtain permission in order to text a customer, you must always give them the option to opt out with each text. While it seems like a bad thing, it’s a blessing in disguise. People who opt out are not likely to lead to sales anyways so you’re not losing out on your best customers. It’s your job to make the offers and messages good enough to keep customers from opting out in the first place.

Pay attention to metrics and adjust as necessary

Keep an eye on important metrics like open rates and click-through rates. You’ll begin to notice patterns between the messages and offers you send and how much your audience is responding to them. From there you can start to fine-tune your strategy to maximize the effectiveness of each text.

Constantly build your database

Even after you’ve built up your database to a good size, you can never stop building. Use other marketing channels you have to market your text message channel. Make it an elite club for loyal customers and people will want to join it. If you keep building, then you don’t have to worry as much about the opt outs.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: mobilemarketingwatch.com/op-ed-6-tips-succeed-sms-marketing-71526/

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One of the best ways to get new customers is through word of mouth. People who really love your product or service will tell their friends, and their friends will buy what you have to sell. But how can you as a business encourage more word of mouth marketing?

Make interacting with your company easy

People who are going to refer your business to their friends and family need to be able to interact with you easily. For example, you want your customers to be able to share your business page on their social media platforms. Customers want to be able to call out your social media business page in their post, and their friends want to be able to easily click on your business name and find out more information about your company.

By making it easier to interact with your business, you are making it easier for your customers to share information about you with their friends.

Reward customers who share

Another good way to boost word of mouth marketing is by rewarding your customers for sharing with their friends. Many companies offer extra gift cards or rewards points for every friend that is referred and actually signs up for the product or service. People won’t refer their friends unless they absolutely love your product, but they are more willing to do so if they feel as though they are getting something in return. You can also send text marketing messages to customers, so they know exactly what their reward is for sharing with their friends.

The reward doesn’t always have to be huge. Even a small discount on your products is enough to encourage customers to refer you to their friends.

Don’t miss out on influencers

Another thing to consider is that influencers make a big difference in the marketing world, especially now when even small influencers on social media can really boost your sales. Find influencers that meet your target audience, and work out a deal with them. They should be able to easily promote your product as a part of their everyday social media interactions. It should create a ripple effect that leads to their followers trying and sharing your product with their friends as well.

Consider the bigger picture of your company

One thing that really gets people talking, especially the Millennial generation, is if your company has something bigger than your product or service that they can talk about. They want to be able to tell their friends all about how they helped save a village in India with their Sunglasses purchase. If you can give your customers a bigger picture of something they can talk about, you give your business a lot more opportunity for natural word of mouth advertising.

If you don’t already have something your company does that people can talk about, it might be time to come up with one. It really is a really great way to encourage word of mouth advertising. Once you have something, make sure you highlight it in your text marketing and social media marketing efforts, so customers know what they are supporting and can get behind the cause as well.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source:entrepreneur.com/article/283979

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SMS Messaging is a great way to reach out to customers. With 75% of the world’s population using cell phones, there can be no better way to reach out and connect to people. Read more about the advantages of SMS messaging in a recent blog post.

But the ease and power of SMS messaging should not let you forget that there are rules to business-based SMS message marketing and there are consequences for breaking those rules.

Federal SMS Messaging Regulations

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has very strict regulations in terms of SMS messaging as a means to market to people. First, businesses can only send SMS messages to people who opt-in and choose to receive messages.

Second, marketers must offer an easy and direct method to opt out of future text messages. There are other regulations that marketers need to know. For example, users have to be notified of any sign-up fees, and permission received by one company does not allow company affiliates or business associates to also message people who have opted in.

According to an article in Entrepreneur, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act can impose a fine between $500 to $1500 per unsolicited text message sent. So before sending out mass text messages to people who have yet to opt in, consider all the consequences and their costs.

A Costly Marketing Mistake

In 2010, Papa Johns hired OnTime4U, a mass text messaging service, to text ads to customers. Unfortunately, Papa Johns is now facing a $250 million lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that Papa Johns sent out hundreds of thousands of text messages to customers who never opted in to receive text messages from Papa Johns. According to the lawsuit, some Papa John franchises gave lists of customers and their contact information to OnTime4U without getting the customers permissions first.

If Papa Johns loses the lawsuit, they will face one of the largest damages awards ever given under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Since the lawsuit claims that 500,000 messages were sent to customers without permission, and $500 should be paid for each text message. That is a total of $250 million.

Plaintiff lawyer Donald Heyrich said in a statement. “If you do not have permission from your customers, do not send them text messages."

Learn from Other SMS Message Marketing Mistakes

Before you and your company face a situation similar to Papa Johns, learn everything there is about SMS messaging services. Learn and understand the federal guidelines related to SMS messaging and marketing practices. When you sign up for text messaging services, make sure you explain everything you want to get out of the service and the parameters of your messages. Train all of your employees so they are aware of the regulations and the parameters that are in place. And as a final safety net, do not pass on customer lists to anyone, especially your contracted messaging provider, unless those customers have opted-in to messaging services or given permission for them to be contacted.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Sources: cnet.com/news/papa-johns-pizza-up-against-250m-lawsuit-for-text-spam/#!

entrepreneur.com/article/279237

biztexter.com/the-power-of-sms-messaging/

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It may seem like the title of a game show (and it may even be a fun show to watch), but it is a legitimate question. Artificial Intelligence is getting better and better every day, and it may not be long before the sci-fi movies are a reality in our lives. One AI computer is outsmarting even the best poker players in a three-week long poker tournament.

Poker tournament outlook

The top 4 poker players in the world took to a competition with Libratus, an artificial intelligence program created by a team at Carnegie Mellon University. And, not surprisingly, the machine is beating the real people very badly. It was a 20 day tournament, and the people are getting tired from long days of playing poker. The machine, however, doesn’t get tired and continues to have a great game even after 20 days. The biggest advantage Libratus had over the real live poker players was its ability to bluff and remain unpredictable. And while being able to show feelings and fake feelings is an important part of the game, someone who can constantly remain emotionless will always have the advantage in the game.

All the poker players have lost the equivalent of a small house in these games of poker. Though none of them will have to actually pay the AI Robot for losing. The biggest problem the players face is that they want to retain human dignity, and it isn’t going well as they lose so massively to Libratus. It is amazing how much we can teach computers to do.

About Libratus, the poker-playing AI

Libratus was built to test the abilities of Artificial Intelligence to, hopefully, create programming that can run on its own in a variety of fields. It could be used in medicine, military strategy, or even in your daily homes. As it is quickly improving, you can expect to see AI start to become a natural part of your everyday interactions, especially with businesses.

How AI affects you

Most people don’t have to worry about losing their jobs and being replaced by artificial intelligence. We are still a long ways off from being able to have this kind of widespread technology used in all businesses. If AI were to replace people in their jobs, it would only be for very basic, repetitive jobs. But even the greatest minds don’t expect it will happen anytime soon.

However, AI Chatbot has come a long way and is quickly becoming the norm. Facebook and Twitter are both working to develop Chatbot for businesses to be able to use it on social media platforms. You can easily get access to Chatbot for texting customer service communications. The capabilities of artificial intelligence are growing more and more every day, and as a business, that gives you an amazing opportunity to communicate with customers in a way they prefer and that saves you time and money.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: theverge.com/2017/1/25/14358246/ai-poker-tournament-cmu-libratus-vs-human-losing

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Nothing says more about your company than your customer service department because it is the one group that will always interact with customers. But the sad truth is that this is the department that is typically most unorganized and needs huge improvements. While 80% of businesses believe their customer service is already doing very well, only 8% of customers agree, according to Forbes. So whether or not you know it, you probably need to improve. Whether you are working through text marketing or phone calls, here are ways you can improve your customer service department.

Take the time to train

One of the biggest problems is that there is very little training at most companies, or if there is training, it isn’t very clear or direct. Especially when it comes to working with customers, you need to make sure your employees know exactly what you expect them to say and do. Employees can only be as effective as their training allows. Not only do they need to know how you want them to interact with customers, you also need to make sure they are trained on any current promotions or issues you are currently dealing with. If they don’t know what is happening in the company, they won’t be very effective.

Listen to the whole story

Most people who call in with a problem have a story to tell. They don’t want to get cut off even if it is with a solution. It is very important that your customer service representatives know how to listen until the customer is finished. Of course, finding a solution is the next step, but listening to the whole story and letting them finish their thoughts is the first step.

Give them the whole truth

It can be tempting to make up a story about why things went wrong instead of just telling the client you messed up. And while it seems like it would keep the customer happier, they are actually always happier with the truth. First of all, a little lie can easily unravel, and if a customer finds out you lied to them, they will be much angrier than if they had heard the bad news to begin with. Second, most people these days value transparency. The internet has made it very easy for them to find the truth, and it is better if they hear it from you than someone online. As soon as the truth has been said, a solution can be presented.

It’s also possible to tell the truth without going into too much detail. For example, if the product didn’t ship on time and it was your fault for not paying on time, don’t tell the client you didn’t pay for the product so it didn’t ship on time. You can simply tell them the product shipped late, and that’s why it arrived to them late. There’s definitely ways of conveying the truth to the customer without throwing your company completely under the bus, and a good customer service department understands this.

Apologize

The easiest way you can improve your customer service is to teach your representatives to apologize for problems or inconvenience. It’s hard to be mad at someone who sounds like they are truly sorry. An apology can go a long way. And while you should do what you can to make it right financially, an apology may be just what you are missing.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2016/12/28/your-customer-service-is-terrible-here-are-three-way-to-improve-it/2#1da83a2d69c3

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Focusing on customer service in your business is very important. It is one of the three pillars of success every business should stand on. Even if you already have customer service in place, you can always make improvements. Here are four ways that you can improve your customer service department.

1. Build a single customer service statement philosophy

Your customer service representatives need something they can always come back to as their ultimate goal in serving customers. One great example of this given by Forbes is the Mayo Clinic’s phrase “The needs of the customers come first.” It is short, sweet, and to the point, and when new employees are being trained, they can be told this on day one as the ultimate goal. Every time they are struggling in any kind of service situation, they can remind themselves of that short statement philosophy of the company and make their decisions based on it. It really is a quick and easy way to make sure all of your employees are on the same page and understand the ultimate goal.

2. Teach customer service representatives essential skills

While it is nice if you can hire customer service agents who already know what to do and already know how to handle every situation properly, the truth of the matter is that you will need to teach them the skills they need for the job if you want to really help your customers properly. Teach them that smiling while on the phone can be felt on the other end by the customer, and it will improve the customer’s response to you. Teach them that while customers get angry, it is always about the situation and not them, so as a representative, they need to be able to step back and look at it from the customer’s view to try and solve the problem. Teamwork is an important skill because you can’t always do everything by yourself. And on that note, it is important that they know what they can resolve on their own and what they need to go to a manager for. You must give them the tools to succeed.

3. Use AI Chatbot when possible

AI Chatbot is the ability to have a computer recognize questions and send answers to a customer immediately. It is great for your business because you can quickly and easily resolve simple matters and the customers appreciate the clear, fast response. You can use this in texting with the customers by allowing for two-way texting communication. It can also be used on your website with live chat and on social media through messaging. Customers have become much more accustomed to talking through written channels than phone calls.

4. Refine customer service standards technology

Your customer service agents will only be as good as the technology they are provided. Your business needs to have the most updated computers and computer programs to ensure they have access to everything they need. Don’t make them put the customer on hold for 20 minutes while they wait for the slow system to load. It makes the customer angrier unnecessarily, and your employees will have a harder time doing their job the right way if they don’t have the technology necessary to succeed.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2016/11/28/the-six-customer-service-silver-bullets#62f39be73e2e

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​Customer service is one of the key parts of every business. And as technology is progressing, there are more ways than ever to reach out to your customers and get them the information they need. Social media has provided many outlets for companies to communicate. This is great because it means that you can help them resolve any issues your customers are having, receive positive feedback, and do a better job at getting and keeping customers.

Twitter released new customer service capabilities

Among the social media sites you should be using to stay in touch with customers is Twitter, and Twitter just made that a whole lot easier. Your business can now indicate whether or not support is provided which will then enable a direct message button allowing customers to send a private message to your team, even if they aren’t following your company, according to TechCrunch. Your business can display hours of customer service, and you have the ability to see anytime a customer references you @yourbusiness on Twitter, which is also a huge help in finding when someone needs help. Twitter has done an amazing job of recognizing the need for easier customer service interactions on Twitter and building a new way for communication.

Other social media platforms to use

There are many other social media platforms available for you to reach out to your customers. Facebook is essential; if you don’t have a Facebook business page already, you should get one set up right away. It is one of the number one ways people are getting in touch with businesses these days, and it gives your company a great opportunity to show potential customers that you are already taking care of the ones you currently have.

Having a Google+ page means Google will have all accurate information for your business, and it will make it easier for customers to find you in internet searches. It is also a place many people will review and look for reviews on your business. Again, Google+ is another way to show potential customers that you are taking care of any problems that have been brought up.

Though the rest of the other social media platforms are important to have in place to stay in communication with your customers, they don’t offer very good customer service options. On all those social media sites, you can easily post your two-way texting customer service phone number though, and it will help people find you when they have questions.

Two-way text customer service

Two-way texting works amazingly well for customer service as well. It is especially important among the Millennial generation where younger customers prefer to work through text than over the phone. With an artificial intelligence texting platform that automatically responds to questions from your customers, you’ll be ahead of the curve and be giving customers exactly what they want.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by biztexter.com

Source: techcrunch.com/2016/09/15/twitter-rolls-out-new-features-for-businesses-running-customer-service-accounts/

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