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Do you need a website chatbot?


Do you really need a chatbot for your company website?

Penny Dower Hunt, 28 August 2021.

Most people have unrealistic expectations of chatbots and artificial intelligence.

Both users and businesses want a chat robot to behave like a human and solve questions quickly with ease. This is an unrealistic expectation. User questions need to be very simple and not contain misspellings or abreviations or slang.

Sometimes these chatbots seem humanlike and work like magic, but often the interaction ends in customer frustration and even lost sales.

If you're an executive making a decision on whether to deploy one that can interact with your customers, you may feel caught between the artificial intelligence hype or the worry that bots may not provide the result of a positive customer experience.

1. What are chatbots?

Chatbots are short for 'chat robots' or 'automated conversation systems'. It is a computer program that simulates human interaction using instant messaging to help your business manage simple tasks by providing answers to customer queries.

The first conversational bot was created back in the 1960's by Prof Joseph Weizenbaum. They have since evolved and are now used widely in many corporations and business websites acting as digital assistants.

With the increasing importance of customer support and advances in artificial intelligence, they can now be customised to serve specific requirements for a business. One that is customised well using natural language processing can help to reduce costs and act like a support team member.

They are most effective when connected to a live chat solution. A human agent can then take over from the robot if required. This does however mean that the human support team member needs to be available to step in if needed in a timely manner. Customers don't like being put 'on hold' for a lengthy time!

2. Can artificial intelligence replace a human agent?

A simple answer is No!

Bots are only successful if they are programmed effectively. It takes considerable time and money spent on their development to get the best results. All chatbots are limited and cannot replace humans.

As Margaret Mayer, VP of Software Engineering at Capital One said, “The easiest-to-use technologies are the hardest to build.”

3. Do you need bots for your website?

Unless you are a large company with sufficient time and funds to spend on using artificial intelligence software and are not a start-up business, it may not provide a positive customer relationship for your business.

Most articles about bots are published by developers who will claim that they improve customer service, are very affordable, very easy to use and set-up, and will increase customer satisfaction. Some feedback from companies relying on artificial intelligence to improve their customer relationships however is not so glowing.

4. Limitations of a chatbot

A survey conducted by Userlike shows that repondents found them fast and convenient, but with limitations. And people aged over 50 are less likely to use these bots.

Website chatbots survey negative bots aspects

According to one of the respondents in the survey: “I've experienced very broken chatbots. There should be adequate testing for the bot before it’s used to help people who are already having difficulties and end up dealing with a chatbot that only makes matters worse.”

While another said, “IT departments have a long way to go before they develop a chatbot that can capably handle the nuances of language and complex questions, which are challenging even for a human service person.”

It is impossible to cover all questions or deviations from the topic when setting up your chatbot. This is why it is really important to connect it to a live chat with a human when things go awry. This will however only work if the human team member is on hand to answer the customer at the time.

5. Do customers trust chatbots?

The survey conducted by Userlike found that users were willing to chat with bots for basic requests, but how many really trusted them?

The results showed that if the request was simple and not urgent people don't mind using a chatbot. 54% would use one to ask about a product and 30% would use it to pay a bill. While only 23% would use it to settle a dispute.

Most respondents thought that the bot should always give you the option to transfer to a human representative.

Bots artificial intelligence survey of chatbots

Website Bots Conclusion:

Creating good customer experiences is going to matter in 2021 and beyond. If you fail to deliver, you risk losing customer loyalty.

Website bots using artificial intelligence can help to reduce customer service costs with their fast response time and ability to solve simple requests. They can also be good when used as part of a sales funnel for larger businesses, but they can't replace human agents.

Virtual bot agents are most effective in customer service applications in service-heavy industries like financial services, retail, travel, and telecom.

Do you have the scale that makes this level of artificial intelligence engineering worthwhile?

A Harvard Business Review' Does Your Company Really Need a Chatbot' says, "Deployments are most likely to pay off in companies fielding thousands of customer chats or calls via contact centers with hundreds of agents.

Need a website chatbot?