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According to IBM research, businesses spend $1.3 trillion on 265 billion customer service calls each year. This can be a huge burden on many industries, but there is a great ever-evolving solution skyrocketing in popularity – Chatbots. IBM estimates chatbots can solve up to 80% of routine queries and, unlike humans, they can answer many enquiries at the same time and work 24/7. So what are chatbots? How do they work? Do you need one? And what are your options to create a chatbot. We’re going to answer these questions now.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is audio or text based software programmed to simulate human conversation, thus allowing it to replace a human operator for communication. Chatbots work within applications such as websites, social media, operating systems and text messages. They can range from answering simple enquiries to advanced AI offering personalisation and evolving over time. Virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana are a form of chatbots.

What is the purpose of chatbots?

The purpose of chatbots is to:

 

  • Support and scale business teams
  • Reduce workload for first-line support
  • Signpost visitors to relevant pages on a website
  • Answer basic questions
  • Refer customers to the correct department
  • Upsell and cross-sell
  • Generate leads

In other words, chatbots are used for automating selling and customer support. But can they replace humans? We’ll explain shortly.

The 3 Types of Chatbots

Messenger chatbots

People are now using messenger apps more than they use social networks. A staggering 1.6 billion people use WhatsApp and 1.3 billion for Facebook messenger. Messenger chatbots allow you to become visible where consumers are increasingly spending their time.

You can connect your bot to multiple Facebook pages and integrate it to WordPress using a plugin. There are plenty of third-party bot builders you can use to simplify the process. Two popular choices are Mobile Monkey and landbot.io.

Rules based chatbots

This bot is very limited. It’s only as smart as it is programmed to be because it’s responding to very specific commands. People can ask the same question in several ways, which can be challenging for a rule based chatbot. If you say the wrong thing, it doesn’t know what you mean. This reduces the success rate when answering questions but is still a viable option as they are easy to set up.

Machine learning chatbots

This bot uses artificial intelligence. Basically, it has its own artificial brain to learn and understand language and not just commands. This bot continuously gets smarter as it learns from conversations it has with people. Here lies the future of chatbots. Sophisticated deep learning bots can solve 80% of enquiries already. As technology grows, we may see them become the primary driving force for customer support, and even sales to a large extent. The potential they have to replace humans is slowly becoming a reality because of the cost savings

Do you need a chatbot?

Companies getting the best return on investment typically get plenty of inbound calls already, predominantly in customer service. If you have a high volume of traffic on your site, receive frequent calls, or social media comments, you can put a chatbot to good use.

If you’re still considering a new website or your existing site doesn’t have many visitors, the short answer is probably not. Why? Because you are better off focusing on improving customer experience (UX) by changing how your website looks (UI) and functions. Ask yourself how you can make all your important information easy to find, for example by reducing the number of clicks to get to a page. Also think about how you can keep people on your website. Provide high quality content and build internal links between pages which are relevant and useful for further reading.

It’s still worth adding a chatbot that redirects enquiries to a member of staff who can then deal with them directly through chat. Also, having the prompt helps encourage a call of action for visitors. Moving forward, we don’t see chatbots as a fad but as a growing essential to enhancing your results online.

 

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