The Applecado blog

What is a chatbot and do I need one on my website?

Chatbots

There seems to be a lot of talk about chatbots recently, but do you need them on your website? First things first, what is a chatbot?

“A computer program in the form of a virtual e-mail correspondent that can reply to messages from computer users.” - Dictionary.com

In layman’s terms, it’s a computer programme that is designed to simulate conversations with human users. Companies are increasingly using chatbots as a customer service tool, to solve common problems and questions. Many believe that chatbots and virtual or voice assistants are the future of customer service, some are even saying they will replace websites and apps for businesses as they allow users to find the precise product or service they want through a series of questions and answers.

While they are growing in popularity, Chatbots aren’t a new thing, ELIZA, built in the 1960s, ran the DOCTOR script and was a psychotherapist who was able to interact with humans!

But are they necessary?

Gartner thinks that chatbots may handle 85% of all customer interactions by the year 2020, however whether they are necessary or not will depend on your industry. For example, customers now converse with chatbots on the Vodafone website to solve frequently asked questions and issues, and travellers can find out when the next bus is coming using the Transport For London (TFL) Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Customers are much more comfortable now with using and buying through chatbots than they were a year ago, so it’s no longer an alien concept to consumers. While not necessary, they can be a useful tool to increase your customer satisfaction and customer experience.

The Positives

  • No need for FAQs, lengthy searches or trying to get through on the phone
  • Quick answers
  • Efficient use of customer service teams as the majority of questions are answered by bots
  • Makes customer service possible for all businesses, whatever their size

The Negatives

  • An inevitable investment in terms of costs or learning time
  • There’s a possibility of misunderstanding the question and delivering incorrect information
  • Can cause unnecessary frustration if not effective and efficient
  • Far from perfect; they can be thrown by non-keywords or things that aren’t pre-programmed. Some companies use them to filter questions using automation and then if the bots can’t solve the problem, they redirect it to a human….useful if you have a team to answer these queries, but could damage reputation if not

You Decide…

If you think chatbots would be a useful additional to your website, research potential systems (examples - ChattyPeople, Chatfuel, Botsify, OnSequel) and find out how they might integrate into your current website and/or systems and processes.

To ensure that your chatbot is delivering the correct answers to frequently asked questions you’ll need to brainstorm common questions; opening hours, directions, postcode for navigation, ticket info, product availability. Consider the type of calls you have received recently and most frequently, and then the keywords and phrases related to those. For your chatbot to be successful and intelligent, you need to provide as much information and as many scenarios as you can. Taking the time to set up a chatbot correctly might seem like a task that you don’t have time for, but investing that time upfront will allow your chatbot to be efficient and a useful addition to your business.  

Want to know more?

Why not give us a call to chat through how chatbots can be integrated into your new bespoke website built by Applecado.

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