How chatbots can help with the easing of lockdown restrictions

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This past year of on-and-off lockdown restrictions has brought with it a host of new trends. Technology adoption and the advent of digital transformation have played a prominent role in these trends. Now, as the UK’s final lockdown begins to ease, many will be wondering what a post-Covid-19 world looks like. 

Here at Manifesto, we think automation will be pivotal in the easing of lockdown restrictions. Specially, we think chatbot technology will play a fundamental role in helping companies open back up safely. 

Particular industries – especially leisure and hospitality – have felt the full impact of the global health crisis. And now, even with a vaccine being rolled out at a rapid rate, firms in these sectors will still need to operate in an entirely new way. With new rules and regulations come added complexity, cost, and safety concerns.

One way organisations can ride this incoming wave of new guidelines is by investing in automation-driven solutions, like chatbots. With increased customer enquiries and mandatory bookings all but a given, such technology will allow businesses to work with the staff they already have and can afford.


Opening up with a helping hand

When businesses reopen, despite which industry they sit in, the priority will undoubtedly be customer and staff safety. A huge part of this will be managing the influx of customer queries, many of who will be anxious about integrating themselves back into society.

Google developer advocate, Priyanka Vergadia, uses the example of restaurants. Having switched between in-house dining and takeouts for the last year, menus will likely change once again, as will opening hours. “Restaurants could create a simple chatbot with all the basic information about any change in hours, menu etc,” explains Vergadia.

As for leisure locations such as historical sites, social distancing will still need to be upheld, particularly around pressure points like toilets and car parks. In this instance, organisations can use automation to process data on visitor numbers. Then, through a website-enabled chatbot, firms can provide insights into peak times, and other frequently asked questions (FAQs). This way, clients are engaging naturally with sources of information.


Re-engaging with customers

To kickstart revenue streams to pre-pandemic levels, companies will once again need to re-engage with their customers. That is, if they haven’t already. Ensuring your customer data is up to date, easy to access, and fully in your control, is a good place to start. 

Because chatbots provide an easily accessible, single source of truth which can constantly be updated, they’re an ideal tool for both customers and employees to consult. And being available all hours of the day and night means this data is constantly accessible.

Chatbots are, fundamentally, a great cure for the lack of time people have spent engaging with others over the last year. Which is why reports dub the conversational technology a great cure for loneliness. And even as the UK opens back up, it’s likely those scared of leaving their homes will still rely heavily on these tools as a major source of day-to-day engagement.

If we’re thinking about revenue, chatbots are also seamless tools for sales conversion. A customer looking for information about opening times, for example, can then be automatically prompted to make a booking. According to a survey, more than 67% of millennials will buy from companies with chatbots incorporated into their websites.


Saving on man power

With automated tools comes a firm’s ability to rely less on its employees, who can – as a result – focus on more complex customer enquiries. Many hospitality-centred firms will feel anxious about re-opening their doors, anticipating an influx in customers who are eager to utilise long-shut services. 

For those with no budget to hire more staff, one-time technology investments will help to alleviate this burden. Automated solutions are cost-effective, and they’re adaptable to fluctuations in business. This is particularly useful in a climate where predicting customer behaviour is impossible.

Conversational solutions aren’t just good for one stage of the customer journey either. They can take a customer all the way through from engagement, to sales care and support, to information-based enquiries, to booking management.


There’s a use case for everyone

We’ve explored just a few of the sector examples for conversational AI-powered chatbots. There are, in fact, more than we care to count. And as Deloitte points out in a 2020 trends report, the pandemic may have even cemented irreversible customer behaviors:

“During lockdown some customers experienced online food shopping for the first time. The unfamiliar first step was taken and for some there will be no going back.”

As a rule of thumb, automation makes a rapid difference across every business vector. Some of Manifesto’s solutions, for example, can be up and running within just eight weeks.

If you think your organisation is ready for the benefits automation can bring, or just want to know more about how it could apply to you, then feel free to get in touch. You can also browse our chatbot-related projects to date with clients here.

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