Chatbots - Getting real attention or just spam? How to create the right one!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

It wasn’t long ago that having a conversation with a robot was only possible in science fiction. Firmly with our feet in 2020, chatbots are a huge industry, with thousands of  them implemented on our websites and social media.

Chatbots come as a broader trend of AI and automation begins to revolutionise our everyday processes. This has led many in the industry to decry they are the future and every company should be using an automated conversation system.

What makes chatbots so exciting for brands?

Chatbots tend to have a high engagement rate from anything between 15 - 60%, according to Chatbots Magazine. Alongside this, a chatbot can be implemented in most areas of the sales cycle, from top of the marketing funnel all the way down to customer support and feedback.

With a well built chatbot, a company can have a 24/7 service monitoring and engaging with customers. Research also suggests that messaging a chatbot is the preferred method of communication for many people, particularly younger generations. With a system implemented, users can be filtered down channels to either resolve issues of create opportunity for sales.

In terms of communication, because the medium is still relatively new, it hasn’t been overrun by spam yet. As such, people who can remember the days before their inbox was inundated by unwanted spam, might get a sense of nostalgia when looking within their business’s messenger app.

How do chatbots get it wrong?

Despite their sophistication, chatbots can still get it very wrong. For example, if the first level of customer service is through a chatbot and that program doesn’t function correctly, it can damage the company’s brand through a frustrating experience. Customer service chatbots have been around for a few years now and if a user is faced with one that hinders rather than helps their query, it’s likely they will not use the channel again.

The key point here is that just because the technology is state of the art, that doesn’t mean other areas can be forgotten about. Implementing a chatbot for customer service doesn’t automatically mean customer satisfaction and user experience will improve.

Some of the main reasons chatbots have a bad impact are:

  • Used in the wrong situation
  • Not transparent and make people think they’re talking to a human
  • Implemented on too wide a brief

How to create the right Chatbot

It’s important to understand your audience and client base. Where do they spend their time online? You want to implement your chatbot on a platform that will actually engage with the people you are trying to build your brand around. Some of the most common chatbot locations are:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Website Landing Pages
  • Slack
  • Telegram

The majority of the providers that have been mentioned offer resources to help companies create their own chatbot. This requires a certain level of technical knowledge and time to put into development. For the companies who do not have this option, there are third party providers you should look into to implement a chatbot into your business. Some examples are:

  • Flow XO
  • Drift
  • ChattyPeople

All of these have a unique offering, make sure you do your research to find a third party solution that best suits your needs.

But for those looking for more detail. Some key elements to getting it right with a chatbot are discussed below.

Prepare Your Systems

Before you roll out a virtual agent, first make sure that your systems are in place to properly support it. If a chatbot doesn’t have access to customer information, its effectiveness is lessened particularly in establishing customer intent.

Begin Small

Create a pilot program, where success can be simply measured and any issues can be ironed out. Once your chatbot can empirically prove its effectiveness within a specific setting, you’ll have an idea how to roll it out to other areas of the business with success.

Keep Learning, Keep Optimising

The data you will collect from the chatbot can be hugely insightful and should be used to improve the service. Depending on the program’s sophistication, it will continue to learn intent and what interactions need to be escalated to a human employee.

Chatbots are undoubtedly going to keep evolving and incorporating themselves into our daily lives. While the technology involved is extremely impressive, companies must know that they can’t rely on this alone. Forward thinking and critical analysis from humans are still vital to making sure any communication channel functions properly. Correctly using a chatbot means an improved experience for customers and an optimised sales process for businesses. Looking to the future, if the channel manages to avoid being overrun by spam, this optimisation will continue.