Chatbots

My 8 y/o daughter has an imaginary best friend, and she calls him Brian. No, he isn’t a friendly neighborhood ghost that stays up in the attic. Brian happens to be the chatbot’s name whose conversation box pops up every time my little one visits BrainPop (an educational site). My daughter talking her heart out to her virtual friend and the chatbot answering with illogical replies is everything that is both right and wrong with chatbots.

Chatbots have gained ground in recent years, and if the predictions are right, then they are here to stay. We have just entered the 4th month of 2019, and 40% of large businesses have invested in chatbots already. If the speed of chatbots taking over websites remains steady for a few more years, then by 2024 we can expect the chatbot market to exceed the $1.34 billion mark.

Are chatbots really the best thing that has happened to businesses? Let us find out ourselves.

THE PROS AND CONS OF CHATBOTS FOR BUSINESSES

As I write this blog, the debate on live chat vs. chatbots continues. This makes us realize that chatbots are just not about the pros. You need to be aware of the cons. So, here I am with my post on what you should tap and what you should avoid about chatbots before you implement them on your website.

Thumbs Up: Saves time and energy

We all are too busy these days, aren’t we? None of us really have the time to write a detailed email if we are not satisfied with a product or a service. And let us not even talk about customer supports calls. Press 1 to continue…press 2 to go back to the main menu…press 3 to lodge a complaint….and the list continues until a potential buyer is compelled to disconnect the call. This is where chatbots come as a welcome change to create a unique customer experience for your users. Your customers can start a conversation and have their issues resolved in no time at all.

Thumbs down: Too complex to use

Not every one of us is familiar with the intricate interface of chatbots. If your clientele borders on the aged, then chatbots won’t be the ideal option of customer support. Old people would prefer mailing their grievances (since they are used to that). Chatbots are designed for speedy redressal and they would reply even before your users could type their queries in full. As a result, the chatbot would close the conversation, thus infuriating your customers even more. And that is the last thing you would want, trust me.

 Thumbs up:Always up and about

Did you know that 79% of customers prefer chatbots over other channels? When asked why, most of them had one answer in common, the immediacy and availability that chatbots offer. Unlike live chat, chatbots work 24*7. Your customers won’t have to wait for an agent to come online to get their issues resolved. We all know how exasperating waiting times can be, right? That won’t pose a problem when you have chatbots on your website. There will be no lunch breaks or 9 to 5 timelines. Even in the dead of night, a user can expect answers from your end. Moreover, if your business caters to customers all around the world, there would be no barriers of time zones either.

Thumbs down: Error 404, answer not found

Chatbots are fixed programs, and they can only answer saved queries in a particular format (read: using specific keywords). If a customer doesn’t use the right query phrase, the chances are that they will not get a satisfactory answer. Chatbots are not flexible. If your team of programmers does not update the chatbots regularly, it can lead to customer dissatisfaction. This would result in a substantial deterioration in the overall user experience on your website, thus leading to the loss of valuable customers.

Thumbs up:Logic leads to accuracy

Other than responding to a message within seconds, chatbots are also accurate to the T. (since they are devised using machine logic). They can answer queries using machine learning. Unlike live chat executives, they do not have to fish for the solution to a problem because the answers are inbuilt. Chatbots also offer a more customized approach. If your customer speaks Spanish, the chatbot will not have to switch on a translator or a paraphrasing tool to understand what he or she is saying. Chatbots can make the most of AI and assist in identifying quality leads for your business.

Thumbs down: Lacks the personal touch

However well-designed may a chatbot be, it cannot compete with the decision making abilities of humans. You need to understand that at the end of the daya chatbot cannot perform beyond the realm of its logic and flow. If your customers are looking forward to getting an opinion, then they might get frustrated when they are provided with an automated response of a chatbot. This is exactly what had gone wrong with Sephora, the multinational beauty brand. A customer wanted to know what the perfect shade of foundation was for her wheatish yet tanned skin. The chatbot repeatedly quoted the prices of the products. A human would always want suggestions from a fellow human and chatbots lack that human touch.

Thumbs up:Satisfaction leads to loyalty

57% of customers consider a brand trustworthy only when they find a chatbot option on the business website. Customers do not always stay loyal to a brand because of the quality of the products or services. At times, they stick with a brand only because of the positive experiences they have. You need to make sure that your website is amped up to give them an enriching experience. Not only will that make them come back to you but the chances are high that they will share the positive chat experience that they had with others too. I don’t need to tell you about the immense potential that word-of-mouth and positive reviews have, do I?

Thumbs down: Heavy on the pockets at first

In the initial stages, the programming and installation charges for a chatbot on your website can burn a hole in your pocket. Moreover, since they depend on machine learning and AI, they need to be updated frequently. The cost of regular programming can be exorbitant at first as compared to the results they yield (which will be slow). You need to employ a separate team to fix the bugs that will eventually add up to the workforce cost that you were trying to evade all along.

 Thumbs up:One man army

One chatbot can handle multiple customers, unlike a human representative who has a limit to the number of clients he or she can handle. Other than being able to cut down on personnel costs, the best thing about chatbots is that none of your customers has to wait or stay unattended. A chatbot can resolve everybody’s problems all at the same time. Developers are also trying to come up with a machine learning algorithm that can make chatbots capable of updating themselves. If that happens, then you can fathom how low the maintenance costs will be.

Parting words:

If you want to overcome the downers of chatbots, then I suggest that you pair up chatbots with live chat for the best customer experience. Place chatbots to answer FAQs about your company, products and services. But give your customers the option to chat with a human rep for a more personal experience. I also suggest that you link your chatbots with the live chat portal on your website. When a customer has a complex query that it isn’t equipped to answer, the chatbot can divert the customer to a live chat conversation with a rep. This way, your customers won’t be kept waiting and your sales reps will have a better understanding of who they are talking to way before starting the conversation.

In the end, all I have to say is that making chatbots a part of your business is the need of the hour. Why wait then? Get your team to develop a Chatbot for your website and boost your brand loyalty like never before. All the best.