How Chatbots Can Help and Harm Your Business

Mark Walker Small Business Advice, Web Design Leave a Comment

There’s no denying chatbots are here to stay. They continue to grow in popularity, especially as natural language technologies progress and barriers to creating them are reduced, such as specialized computer programming knowledge. So, how do you decide if they are right for your business? We have gathered a list of pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

First, let’s look at some benefits to chatbots:

  • Provide quick customer service to your clients. No need to wait for assistance as the chatbot is available in real time when the customer has a question.
  • More affordable than hiring customer service representatives. Chatbots, of course, don’t need benefits like health insurance or paid time off.
  • Variety of uses – FAQs, support articles, on-boarding customers. The chatbots can be programmed to suit your specific needs and the machine learning taking place while the chatbot is used constantly improves the system.
  • Ability to process large volumes of requests at once. A chatbot has all the processing power behind it to take on multiple requests, unlike a customer service rep who can focus only on one request at a time.
  • Provides detailed analytics. The system can collect data about every interaction for continuous analysis of how the chatbot is used and what could be done to improve it.
  • Integration with many different platforms (Facebook, CRMs, etc). Chatbots are here to stay and most major platforms already include an integration to help users utilize the technology.

Like most things, there can be a downside to using chatbots:

  • Frustrating/burdensome to customers when not properly set up; limited responses or options. Ensure the chatbot functions as expected by thoroughly testing its use. It’s easy to alienate customers when automated assistance does little more than loop them through a list of canned responses.
  • First-time setup can be labor intensive. Defining the use cases and setting up the initial system may take a while and requires special skillsets that you may or may not have in-house.
  • Once a large system is in place, can be difficult to troubleshoot or update. Again, in-house talent may not have the appropriate skillset to adjust the system if issues are discovered, and pinpointing issues may require advanced knowledge of the system.
  • Lack of flexibility. Users must follow a specific route to receive help. While the chatbot should improve through usage because it is constantly “learning”, the original programming has to follow a direct path that is predefined. A programmed chatbot is not going to adapt well to topic changes like humans do during conversation.
  • No personal touch. Some customers prefer having a chat with an actual human and may never adjust to the lack of personal attention that goes along with automation.

Ready to start using bots? Here are few options we’ve worked with that might be a good fit for you:

When used correctly, chatbots can provide many advantages. As with any tool or technology, carefully consider your application to determine if the pros outweigh the cons, and remember – if a human needs to be involved, don’t try using a chatbot instead. Have an opinion on chatbots? Do tell!

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