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Have you ever used Starbucks Mobile to order your coffee? Have you requested a ride from Lyft? Have you asked Alexa for help recently? Then you’ve interacted with a chatbot on these platforms.

The ability to tap into chatbots could be the answer to transforming your business into a powerhouse competitor in the snow removal market. About 18 months ago, I decided to embrace the use of chatbots in my business. It made sense since we were already using Facebook as a marketing tool. Although still in their infancy, chatbots were being touted as “the next big thing” and the statistics surrounding them were hard to ignore.

We use chatbots through the Facebook Messenger platform in three ways: (1) to gain the competitive edge by improving our sales process through automation, (2) differentiating our services through better customer interaction and (3) automating our marketing systems through segmentation to create more personal sales conversations.

Competitive sales edge by automation.

On Facebook, chatbots allow you to create automated systems that can engage with your potential and existing clients. At Callahan’s, we have adopted this technology by creating an automated pricing and sales system for residential plowing.

Here is what happens: When the potential client clicks on the “Get a Live Estimate” button on one of our paid Facebook Ads, it immediately opens a live automated conversation in Facebook Messenger. The chatbot automatically opts them into a database that allows you to bulk message “subscribers” at a later date.

Then, the chatbot begins a pre-built automated conversation with them. The chatbot asks questions like: “What town or postal code do you want service in?,” “What is the square footage of the area to be plowed?” The potential client responds to each question and is even funneled to Google Earth to measure their square footage if they are unsure. The chatbot provides the potential client with an instant price that is confirmed after the sale is made.

If the consumer enters a postal code that we do not service, the chatbot will screen them out notifying them that it’s outside our service area. If the consumer asks for one-time service, the chatbot will automatically qualify them and attempt an upsell to seasonal service.

Differentiating service.

In the worst of storms, snow plow contractors serving both residential and commercial clients become inundated with phone calls and emails throughout the snow and ice event. We have used chatbots to combat this stress by segmenting existing Facebook Messenger subscriber lists for communication purposes. When a snow or ice event hits, you can use your chatbot to send out a Facebook Message blast with a personalized message to each part of your segmented list independently. We have also embedded live chat buttons on our website that open a Facebook Messenger Support Chat for quick communication.

The customer can always escalate the conversation to a live person if necessary. This strikes a balance between the right mix of personal and automated communication. It isn’t about removing the human element of business. It’s about protecting our team members’ time and giving our customers the best possible service.

Segmentation allows for personalization.

Personalized marketing is one of the most effective ways to keep customers engaged. In order to personalize, you must segment your client base. Chatbots now allow you to segment customer lists much like an automated customer relationship management software.

Using Facebook Messenger chatbots has allowed us to easily segment leads and clients, thereby allowing us to create more personalized marketing messages to each client. Performing this segmentation would normally take hundreds of hours manually, but once you have programmed a chatbot correctly, these hundreds of hours are completed in seconds.

Chatbots are in their infancy, so early adoption of this technology could yield huge results for your snow removal company. Be smart in your adoption.