chatbot | 4 MIN READ
There are numerous things in manufacturing that you can’t control.
You can’t make the machines run faster. You can’t avoid a few supply chain hiccups. You cannot foresee unavoidable circumstances that lead to a factory shutdown.
So instead, why not focus on aspects that you can control?
For example, you can:
Streamline regular tasks
Provide quick and resilient customer support
Optimize supply chain functions
But for a lot of these, you need AI-backed technologies that aid manufacturers in simplifying processes and communication.
That’s where chatbots for manufacturing step in.
In recent years, the adoption of conversational AI has significantly penetrated the manufacturing industry. Research suggests that the conversational AI market is predicted to be worth $18.4 billion by 2026.
Although bots were initially thought to be a B2C marketing tool, they’re widely used today in various B2B applications.
What is a Manufacturing Chatbot?
A manufacturing chatbot is an automated conversational tool that aids factory employees and customer care representatives in getting accurate information to streamline processes as well as help clients and customers in their queries.
The ease of use, simple set-up, and affordable chatbot pricing have encouraged numerous manufacturers to implement a factory bot.
As a tool that ensures smooth communication through a seamless flow of information, chatbots for manufacturing bring order to an environment that desperately needs it. They offer numerous benefits to owners, employees, and customers alike.
What are these benefits?
Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Chatbot for Manufacturing
1. Easy Handling of Floor Queries
A manufacturing facility is massive, that's spread across several acres and floors. Employees take a lot of time commuting from one place to another within the factory itself. Sometimes, to finish tasks on different sites and floors but most time just for mere inquiries and updates. The extended time to reach creates a lot of confusion and delays.
Instead, a chatbot for manufacturing allows employees to check the distribution of tasks. It answers questions related to some of the most pressing issues in a manufacturing factory, such as:
Reporting technical issues
Notifying maintenance updates
If not automated, these queries can take a lot of time to get resolved. A factory bot brings about a standard monitoring method. AI-backed bots also know when to pass floor queries to a human and what issues they can solve by themselves. The bots also reflect on the top issues faced by groundwork employees and how to make information available to them.
2. Improves Customer Support
Even in B2B, customer support needs to take a front seat to keep the business reputation intact and uplift the client experience. Customer support departments in manufacturing industries are flooded with calls and inquiries about how to use a product, quality complaints, delivery delays, etc.
Manufacturing chatbots help manufacturers distribute work efficiently which ultimately reduces the burden of the support team. How does it do that?
A manufacturer can simply build a customer support chatbot on a no-code bot builder and list the top customer queries and record their standard replies. They can deploy this chatbot on sites where customers can have conversations and seamlessly raise tickets relating to IT support, product maintenance, machine manuals, supply chain queries, quality issues, and delays while answering all the basic questions.
Bots ultimately bridge the communication gap between the company and vendors. And they assist your support team, not replace them. You’ll still have your support team for addressing these tickets, but their burden will be reduced significantly. It will improve their productivity since they don’t have to deal with boring questions.
3. Provides Personalized Recommendations
Chatbots are known to provide personalized product recommendations for eCommerce shoppers that enhance their experience. The same technique is applied in manufacturing bots as a manufacturing company also looks for methods to simplify the sales process of its wide range of products.
Companies can integrate their product list on the chatbot and allow the clients to short-list and make purchasing decisions. With the help of AI and Machine Learning, bots retrieve previous purchasing data and recommend the right product based on client preferences.
That’s what Ozone, a leading architectural hardware company, did. It integrated its list of 3000 products and presented them as carousels on the WotNot chat interface. These carousels helped the company compress the product details and add CTAs to every product for the customer to proceed with a sales inquiry. The result? Clients can easily search for their preferred products without assistance from live agents and in their time of need.
4. Seamless Tracking of Order Fulfillment
Delivery and shipment is probably the last step that the manufacturers have to complete without any hassles. To ensure that buyers get a real-time update about the delivery status, manufacturing factories often keep them updated via a support team or have the factory manager be in constant contact with the buyer.
Not to forget, sometimes delivery can take days and weeks if it’s a long route. And you don’t always just have a single delivery. To manually keep track of every delivery every day and update buyers is not something that any employee should invest their time in as it’s futile.
With chatbots, manufacturers no longer need to wait for a human response to monitor and track outstanding deliveries and inventories. Production bots assist the managers and buyers obtain information about the current inventory, pending orders, expected delivery dates, and status of the shipments.
The bot does this by integrating with the Order Management System (OMS) that provides real-time updates of where the orders are. And although interested parties can check the OMS to check the status, manufacturing chatbots do this in a more interactive and personal manner without having to log in.
Bots are able to give crucial information that saves the constant back-and-forth communication between vendors and agents.
5. Automated Delivery Updates and Notifications
As discussed, manufacturing facilities deal with a lot of deliveries that require everyone to be in the loop —the vendors, the employees, and the manufacturer. And as the supply chain goes through multiple processes, everyone must receive timely updates about the stock units and even quality updates.
If you’re a unit that sends out eCommerce and utility goods that require custom packing, or packages that require special handling care, you need the buyer to be aware and notified in case you send the products out for delivery.
For example, a bot sends a notification to a vendor like, “Hello, AB Logistics! Order number 8142 is dispatched from the manufacturing facility and will be available to you in two days, i.e 10/9/22. Kindly unload the package with care since it contains glass items!!”
You can also program bots to send notifications in case of expected delays, and the things to remember while unloading. The bot also gives out information about their ticket status and when they can expect their queries to be solved.
6. Streamlined Human Resource Operations
Factory bots don’t just help with the technical processes. They also take over essential HR functions like recruitment, scheduling workloads, requesting holidays and leaves, etc. With a chatbot, employees can schedule leaves and appointments, or send emails to managers or departments. This proves beneficial, especially when employees are working remotely.
This has an apparent benefit for the manufacturing industry — automation of administrative HR tasks. Because if you think about it, manufacturing companies have a range of workers across the facility. And since you’re doing a lot to make things easier for your customers, you should do the same with your employees. If your employees can interact with chatbots for essential queries, it can make it considerably easier for them since all they have to do is talk to the chatbot.
With a chatbot, your employees get instant and complete access to the database and access the knowledge instantly without having to ask anyone for the same. Naturally, since a lot of first-level tasks get taken care of by the bot, manufacturers can streamline all the other HR operations and spend time on employee engagement activities.
7. Easy Integration With Backend Software
As a standalone tool, chatbots can have valuable conversations that assist users with queries. Add integrations to that, and chatbots can automate not one but multiple action-oriented tasks. Using custom chatbot plans, you can integrate a chatbot into any other tool, be it tracking software, existing supply chain systems, ERP systems, and whatnot.
Chatbot integration with ERP improves process efficiency and enhances customer experience. Production bots can also integrate with the CMMS (computerized maintenance management system), ensuring that maintenance work is carried out effectively. Users can use bots to find all information about machine maintenance and simplified procedures.
By integrating a chatbot, you’re consolidating all the data on a single platform. You make bots a single point of contact for all information and knowledge databases. Chatbot integrations keep track of various metrics and optimize efficiency and provide better visibility in supply chain management and internal operations.
8. Easy Engagement With Vendors
The manufacturing industry isn’t as sophisticated as the service industry, where professionalism takes precedence over relationships. This industry still strongly relies on vendor relationships for its success. They need trusted partners who can understand the risk involved and look at the long-term benefits each party has to offer.
Manufacturers make immense attempts to keep the spirit of these relationships alive. And chatbots for manufacturing help them do just that. Since bots perform a lot of functions where it bridges communication gaps between manufacturers and vendors, it naturally improves vendor relationships.
Vendors are not left hanging in case of any updates or information. They always have a chatbot at their fingertips wherein they can simply check whatever they need to know at whatever time of the day. It also eliminates the need for extensive vendor website searches. In case they can’t find what they’re looking for, the bot transfers a query to a live agent immediately.
Bots also help vendors and suppliers schedule appointments with the factory according to their convenience. That’s what Gulbrandson technologies, a chemical manufacturer did during the Covid-19 pandemic. To restrict movements within the factory, the company leveraged WotNot to deploy a WhatsApp chatbot to schedule factory appointments by asking a series of questions revolving around COVID-19 symptoms. It resulted in streamlining factory visits as the bot was able to schedule more than 200 appointments in 3 months.
9. Quick Data Retrieval
Easy availability of data is a blessing, especially when all the stakeholders are scattered and work in different shifts. We’ve talked about how everyone involved can easily fetch the data from chatbots at all times. However, to top it up, there is also the feature of outbound bots that makes it possible for users to chat on messenger platforms like WhatsApp or SMS.
Outbound queries can take over queries for vendors and manufacturers alike. For example, a vendor can simply pose a question on the outbound WhatsApp bot like “How many units of Dettol do we have in warehouse X?” or a manufacturer can pose a question like, “How much profit we made in the last Q?”.
SMS and WhatsApp also make it easier to retrieve data to these questions even during odd hours when you don’t have human assistance.
10. Improves Employee Efficiency
Employee satisfaction is what manufacturers strive for but a few get it right. Research suggests that manufacturing employees have the lowest employee engagement score at 7.8. A lot of this is attributed to mundane and repetitive tasks. Also with the disruptions in the workplace and adapting to the new normal, employees have had to adjust a lot while managing their increasing workload.
A lot of benefits that manufacturing chatbots offer are centered around making the task of employees easier and allowing them to focus on pressing matters that most definitely require their assistance. Your staff also doesn’t have to worry about answering trivial questions relating to delivery from buyers and they can focus on more value-added tasks that better contribute to the overall success of your manufacturing unit.
Chatbots for manufacturing are here to stay. With so many key operations tackled, bots considerably improve internal and external support. They optimize opportunities for building long-lasting relationships with customers and suppliers through consistent communication and real-time support.
A lot of manufacturing industries have been added to the list of chatbot users. They’re navigating the technology and making the most of it in an environment that can very much leverage automated assistance. If you want to join the troop, you’re not too late. You can sign up to WotNot to build a chatbot for manufacturing or ask us for help to do so.
Co-founder of WotNot. His leadership, pioneering vision, and relentless drive to innovate and disrupt has made WotNot a major player in the industry.