Why Texting and What Are Chatbots?

If your gym only offers a mobile app, you’re missing out.

It’s no surprise that in 2018, texting is the number one preferred channel for customer service. A Twilio study found that 89 percent of consumers would like to use messaging to connect with businesses.

But consumers want more than just one-way communication with businesses and generic mass texts. 85 percent not only want to receive information but also reply or engage in a conversation with the business. That’s where chatbots come in.

As Becky Peterson from Business Insider put it, “Over the next few years, chatbots will become a ubiquitous component of the customer service experience.”

For our first blog post, we wanted to address the following questions:

  • What are chatbots?
  • Why do gyms need a chatbot?
  • How much does it cost to implement a chatbot?

Chatbots are the new apps.

As Dawide Naude explains in his Medium post:

“Chatbots will be to apps what apps were to websites. With one big difference
Our expectation as consumers has evolved.
First, I expect you to have a phone number
Then, I expect you to have website
Then, I expect you to have a mobile friendly website
Then, I expect you to have an app
Then, I expect you to have a good social media page
Now, I expect to ask you questions, and you answer. I don’t want to search.”

Anatoly Khorozov clarifies further in his Chatbots Magazine article.

“A chatbot (short for chat robot) is a computer program that maintains a conversation with a user in natural language, understands the intent of the user, and sends a response based on business rules and data of the organization.
A user interacts with a chatbot via a mobile messenger (such as Facebook Messenger, Skype or WhatsApp), SMS, or website. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is typically embedded in a chatbot to help it better understand the context of the conversation.”

Basically, every business in the world will eventually have a chatbot because of how effortless and simple they make customer interactions. So it makes sense that the next phase of the internet will be chatbots.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots aren’t going away anytime soon.

According to Gartner’s report, 85 percent of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020.

Well-known commercial clubs are already making moves to implement artificial intelligence into their offering. Take Planet Fitness for example, and its recent announcement of a new “AI digital coach” which it hopes will create a “dynamic personalized fitness experience”.

In the future, all types of gyms and studios will implement AI-powered chatbots to help them deliver better customer service and drive engagement. But larger gyms stand to benefit the most because they have thousands of members to serve at each location. A chatbot would allow their member service team to be everywhere all at once.

It’s no secret that large gyms struggle to deliver excellent customer service, especially when compared to the high-quality experience offered by most boutique studios. With the disconnect between members and staff at large gyms, members are left feeling intimidated, isolated, and are more likely to leave poor reviews on Yelp and Facebook.

The relationship between “customer service,” “interactions,” and “engagement,” is synonymous at gyms. Quality of customer service is directly correlated with the amount and quality of interactions customers have with your staff, which leads to further engagement (i.e. visits, spending, etc.), more interactions––and the flywheel continues to spin.

Negative customer experiences are going to happen at every gym at least once in a while. If gyms want to be known for unparalleled customer service, then they must focus on constantly achieving the magic ratio of 12 positive interactions to make up for one unresolved negative experience. That’s a lot of interactions and exactly why gyms need a chatbot.

Convenience and accessibility

Chatbots make it convenient to interact with your gym because: First, there’s no app. Nothing to download. Most consumers already have three messaging apps on their phone’s home screen, use three different messaging apps per week, and send three messages per hour. People love to text. Second, we use landline texting, a powerful new technology that enables existing business phone numbers to send and receive SMS texts. No more short codes. And as we wrote about previously, regular interactions with your customers have been demonstrated to increase the number of visits, generating greater revenue.

How much does it cost to implement a chatbot?

Trying to do it on your own is as difficult and expensive as trying to build your own mobile app. Although chatbots don’t require a uniquely designed interface, they’re more complex than you might expect. The biggest challenge in successfully creating a highly-useful chatbot is getting it do what the user expects it to do. Gyms are far better off finding a team that’s committed to building, improving and maintaining their chatbot rather than spending their own money, time and energy. Luckily, our team has years of experience in this space, so we know what we’re doing.

If you’re interested but still have more questions, feel free to email us and ask away. We’re here to help you and your gym.