If you’ve been on the internet lately, you’ve surely ran into a chatbot. Maybe you were browsing a website and a chat window opened up asking if you needed help, or maybe you found an all new interactive experience on a brand’s Facebook page.
Whether integrated into a website or hosted on a separate app, chatbots are an easy way to give consumers the opportunity to communicate with a brand 24/7 and they introduce a whole new avenue of support and customer service.
With all the different applications of chatbots, it can be hard to understand where to start. So to make things simpler, let’s break down the topic into its high-level, base components: “The What, the Why, and the How.”
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is defined as any computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, typically over the internet. The service can be either powered by a set of rules that are programmed into the system or with artificial intelligence and natural-language processing, where machine learning makes the bot smarter and smarter as more users interact with it.
Chatbots can be implemented on social message platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik, or they can be integrated right into your own website.
So that’s simple enough but what can you use them for? Well, the possibilities are endless! There are chatbots out there now that can tell you your bank balance, assist HR teams with recruitment, and even send flowers!
One of the most common applications for chatbots is customer service. For companies looking to reduce response time and take some of the strain off of their staff members, a chatbot can easily step in and answer common questions. While they can’t completely replace a human, they can be a nice first line of defense to eventually connect the user with a live employee.
Why are businesses using Chatbots?
Some see chatbots as yet another passing fad but research is starting to tell a different story. According to a report, the use of chatbots is steadily on the rise and the service is actually beginning to shape what consumers expect out of an online experience. Another study found that 89% of consumers were willing to talk to a virtual assistant to quickly find information.
Speed is the name of the game for today’s consumer and they want the information they are looking for quickly and efficiently. Chatbots can provide a way to make that happen.
The platform that your chatbot will be on may also influence your decision. Message apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are actually outpacing major social networks in monthly active users and if you want to go where the people are, chatbots can offer a whole new marketing channel for your business.
How to build an effective Chatbot:
The first thing to consider before implementing a chatbot is your goal. Ask yourself the following:
-What do I want the chatbot to achieve?
-What is my target audience?
-How will it help my customers?
-What main functions and interactions do I want to appear?
It can be tempting to try to do it all, but a simpler chatbot is always better. Start with one application and expand from there.
Before building out a bot, you’ll also want to do extensive research on what questions will arise and how the bot will answer them. This information can come from your sales and customer service departments, client surveys, or even your competitors. The most frustrating thing for consumers is to chat with a bot that doesn’t know how to respond to their question and instead delivers the same canned response over and over. Know your customers inside and out to help prevent this from happening.
At the end of the day, you’ll need to consider a chatbot as one more tool in your company’s arsenal. No matter how you plan to use it, always design with the end-user in mind. If you’re curious about implementing a chatbot on your website, contact us. We’d love to take on your project.