For several years, chatbots were typically used to in customer service environments. These days, chatbots fill a variety of pivotal roles within an enterprise.

Chatbots are growing in popularity, and for good reason. According to SmallBizGenius, chatbots can answer 80 percent of standard questions and cut operational costs by up to 30 percent. These days, 1.4 billion people around the world use chatbots to find what they need.

In an age where artificial intelligence is expanding the way businesses can solve customer issues, chatbots provide your company with an opportunity to improve your customer’s online experience. However, it’s important to understand what kind of chat service you need what you need to do to properly implement and support this service.

The Evolution of Chatbots

Simply put, chatbots are computer programs that give your users another way to interact with your website. Chatbots are known by many names, including AI bots, virtual agents, and conversational interfaces. Regardless of what you call them, they all have the same general goal: to improve customer experience and business efficiencies.

Originally, chatbots were used to direct customers to call an in-house expert or to outsource that call. AI technology has allowed chatbots to extend beyond customer service calls and accommodate other user needs. These days, chatbots can range from basic tools to answer standard user questions to advanced conversational AI bots that are programmed with a logic tree to assist multiple types of users. Chatbots can also provide reporting to help you better understand where you have content gaps or other areas to address.

With AI technology, chatbots offer a way to give consumers a way to interact with your site and ask for what they need 24/7. Modern-day chatbots can be as basic or complex as you need them to be – it just comes down to figuring out the right solution for your organization.

What You Need to Consider When Selecting a Chatbot

While chatbots can be incredibly useful, it’s critical to first assess both your customer’s needs and what it’ll take to implement an effective chatbot. To do this, you’ll need to weigh the following factors.

  • Implementation
  • Chatbot Platforms/Cost

Implementation

In terms of adding a chatbot to your site, the process is very simple. Chatbot platforms are almost always a third-party platform that you can quickly and easily implement by adding a piece of code to your site. These platforms can work on just about any website or template regardless of your CMS. As such, you rarely need to worry about whether a chatbot platform is compatible with your site.

What’s much more difficult is identifying whether the idea of a chatbot makes sense for your organization as a whole. To do this, you’ll need to evaluate a few different factors:

  • Why do you need a chatbot?
  • What will it take to set up the chatbot?
  • Do you have the means to support that chatbot?
  • How much will the chatbot cost?

Why do you need a chatbot for your business?

In general, most business can benefit from chatbots in some way. Determining whether you have a legitimate use for a chatbot is simple: can it improve the overall user experience for your website? If the answer is yes, a chatbot can help.

A useful chatbot can make sense whether you need something to answer basic customer service or to provide engineers with quick access to technical questions. If the following benefits sound good to you, a chatbot is worth some consideration.

  • Provide guaranteed, streamlined customer support
  • Improve customer experience and engagement
  • Create a direct path to sales professionals
  • Allow customers to manage simple tasks autonomously
  • Enhance shopping journeys
  • Resolve technical issues
  • Give users direct attention and quick responses

What will it take to set up the chatbot?

While deciding whether a chatbot can improve your website is easy, taking the time and effort necessary to get it ready for users is another matter.

A chatbot gives users an opportunity to begin a conversation so that they can quickly and easily get what they want. However, machines can’t understand human inquiries or statements without some help. While machine learning and AI technology can break down human communication over time, chatbots need some support to provide positive user experiences.

This is where you and the people implementing your chatbot step in to help. Before your chatbot can help customers, you need to develop conversational flows that address different types of users. For example, a user may type that he has a problem with a product. The term “problem” can trigger the chatbot to redirect that user to customer service or tech support.

In order for a chatbot to work, you’ll need to create a logic tree to break down the different types of users, questions, and responses needed to set your chatbot up for success. This process can become quite complex, so it’s important to identify a starting point and identify the right questions from there. If you’re working with a design and development company to implement the chatbot, they can help work you through this process and help you avoid logic loops and other potential issues.

While the process of creating a logic tree is tricky, it’s important to note that you don’t need to address every single scenario right away. Start by addressing clear need and saving rare problems for the future. With AI built into the chatbot, the reporting can share key results. This data will help you know what questions were asked, where users got stuck, and how those users reacted. This will help you utilize machine learning and reporting features to understand what actually helps and what you can do to improve the customer experience.

Do you have the means to support a chatbot?

Another key consideration regarding chatbots is whether you have the internal infrastructure and resources to manage one. While AI can power a significant amount of the chatbot’s responses, you’ll need to have a plan in place for when a human has to step in and help a user.

For example, let’s imagine you have an e-commerce website for a chain of furniture stores. Your two primary use cases involve people looking to buy a piece of furniture or existing customers who have an issue with something they purchased. You trained your AI to figure out which primary use case is applicable to each user, but you still need personnel who can handle those inquiries at some point.

In this case, you’d likely need to identify two separate people to deal with these different types of users. You’ll also need to take the time to create scripts and train these individuals on how to work with the chatbot users.

Costs

Chatbot costs are heavily dependent on a couple factors: volume and your chatbot platform of choice. To start, many chatbots offer different monthly or annual packages based on the number of agents you need. If you need several agents to use the chat service, that will add up to a significant expense. However, chatbots can help reduce inbound queries by up to 40 percent, so these costs can be easily justified based on your organizational needs.

Pricing packages vary from each chatbot platform as well. For example, LiveChat offers monthly packages that range from $19 to $59 per agent. Other platforms offer services starting at $100-plus per agent. You can also come across platforms that may charge based on the volume of messages you receive. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each platform to estimate your potential investment against how much they’ll benefit your organization.

Identify the Right Chatbot Solution for Your Business

For a simple snippet of code, chatbots require a lot of planning and preparation to set your business up for success. Fortunately, you don’t need to go through the process alone. Aztek can guide you through the implementation process and identify the best chatbot solution for your organizational needs. Contact us today to talk to our team about your chatbot options.