Think about the last time you were exploring a website and a little window popped up on the side or bottom, asking if you needed help or had questions. We are very used to chat windows and the convenience they often bring to the online experience. If you are in a hurry, or have a specific question that is not being answered on the webpages, the chat window can be like someone opening a door, leaning out and saying, "what can I help you with?". However, sometimes the chat function on a website can produce frustration. If a company is particularly large and has a high volume of inquiries or support tickets, your request in a chat window may go unanswered . . . for an amount of time that leads you to abandon the site altogether. When this happens, it damages the brand image in the consumer's mind. They feel annoyed and wonder why the chat option is there at all, if the staff are too busy to even answer.
Enter: chatbots. A bot is a computer program that automates certain tasks, such as chatting with a user through a conversational interface. Advanced bots are powered by artificial intelligence. Chatbots are being widely used and often times you don't even know that you are conversing with a bot, not a human. Chatbots are always on, always available, and always responsive. They can give your customer the instant gratification they are looking for on your website. IF they are executed properly, that is.
Engage with Users the Way They Prefer
Chatbots enable consumers to converse in a way they are already very used to, and in fact prefer; messaging style. Think about how many different ways you communicate. I bet most of those ways involve texting, messaging or chatting. Most people's favorite apps on their phone have a messaging component. Even game apps have messaging between users. When we need something done while on our phone, or something searched online, we often use voice technology. Chatbots serve up that instant answer that many are used to receiving.
How Will a Chatbot Make Your Job Easier?
You may be wondering just how a chatbot will help you in your everyday tasks. Let’s say you work in marketing for a software company that has many high-tech software offerings. Each program you offer is very different than the next, and you have sales people who specialize in each one, or categories. A chatbot could narrow down the exact program a prospect is interested in, or even determine if it’s an existing customer who just needs to open a support ticket. A prospect would be automatically routed to the correct salesperson for that program. All of this is automated and you don’t have to do the filtering, emailing, etc.
Getting the Most out of a Chatbot
Chatbots should aim to give the visitor exactly what they are looking for, and quickly. The goal with this technology is to recognize the user's intent and provide the right content to them, without them having to say or do much. In short, it should make their online experience easier, quicker, and more convenient. If you implement a chatbot you will want it to narrow down the user's question or purpose right away. A great way to do this is by inserting an option list into the chat. The bot will ask what the person is looking for, give them options, and depending on which one they choose, it prompts the bot's next message.
In order to program your bot, it's necessary to go through the exercise of creating a conversation flow chart. Although it will be time consuming to think of each IF:THEN situation in the conversation, it will determine how smoothly your bot will move through conversation with your users. Start by thinking about what people are looking for once they get to your site. This is of course similar, but very different from thinking of what your audience types in a Google Search. Focus on the main questions they might have once they are looking around your site and have an understanding of your product or service offerings. How will they phrase the question? Keep in mind that this will all be in conversational tone. Also keep in mind that if your chatbot is having to ask so many questions just to get to the bottom of what the person wants, then you should probably forget the bot and move to a form.
In summary, chatbots can be very helpful on a website, when built properly and thoughtfully. They may elevate your customer's experience and lead to more sales. Just don't forget the conversational nature that people crave. If your bot feels too much like a bot, you may lose your prospect.
Precision Pages is a reseller of HubSpot inbound marketing software. Learn more about this marketing solution which includes chatbot implementation as part of its marketing automation.