Chatbots – Are They Right for You?

February 6th, 2020 by Shane Kretzmann

On the internet, there are two kinds of bots, those designed to deliver content or promote a cause and others designed to be a virtual sales assistant or customer service representative. The latter is commonly called a chatbot, and they are popping up all over the web. Facebook added chatbots to their business pages a couple of years ago to help businesses automatically respond to inquiries even if they couldn’t have a human watching their page 24/7. Google also has a bot for their business page managers that works similarly.

While chatbots aren’t new, the last few years have seen a lot of hype about chatbots being the next big thing in online conversions, and we have seen an increase in the use of chatbots all over the web. But is using these autonomous bots helping or hurting when it comes to online conversions? Are they really right for your business? To find out, let’s dig into the pros and cons of chatbots:

The Value Chatbots Add

  • Reduced labor costs: Having a chatbot working on your website 24/7 to receive customer service requests or sales inquiries means you don’t have to pay one (or more) human employee to do this work all day and night. This can be a huge labor cost reduction even after you factor in the cost for the bot to be developed and implemented.
  • Faster customer service: The response time of a chatbot is virtually instant, and they never get sick or take time off for holidays! Giving customers the answers to their questions quickly will help move them further down your conversion funnel.
  • Customer satisfaction: They can be programmed to give answers to common customer questions, which can lead to higher customer satisfaction on your website. This can help improve your bounce rate as well.
  • Serve multiple customers simultaneously: A human can only serve a few customer inquiries at a time. This problem does not exist with chatbots as they can manage many customer questions at the same time with no issues.

A robot teacher surrounded by robot students

The Cons of Chatbots

  • Chatbots are “dumb”: Customers often expect these chatbots to act similarly to their Google Home or Siri, which are packed full of advanced AI that has been developed over several years. That isn’t the case with the chatbots that the average business is using. These bots can get stuck, and complex queries from a customer may be answered incorrectly or not at all. Sometimes, even simple questions may not have been thought of during the development of the chatbot. These issues can lead to customer dissatisfaction and a reduction in brand loyalty.
  • High setup cost: While these chatbots can save you a lot in labor costs over time, the initial cost to implement them is typically very high. To be truly useful to your customers, each chatbot needs to be programmed to answer dozens of questions correctly, as well as variations of the same question, which increases development costs. And for the chatbot to continue to be useful, it will need to be updated as questions and answers change for your business, which can lead to hidden ongoing maintenance costs that you haven’t budgeted for.
  • Chatbots have no memory: This means repeat customers that have a different question are often forced to write the same thing over and over to get to the point at which their new question can be answered. Much like automated telephone systems, this can be very frustrating for your customers and can ultimately lead them to look elsewhere for the answers they seek.
  • Chatbots aren’t always the right fit: Many businesses are just too complex for chatbots to be a viable customer service solution. In some cases, using a chatbot will add unnecessary complications. Some businesses are better off adding a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on their site, which will draw in additional traffic to their website.

As you can see, there are some good reasons to use a chatbot on your business’s website, but using a chatbot can also backfire and hurt your conversion funnel. If you decide that a chatbot is appropriate for your company, it should be designed, developed, and implemented by professionals with your specific needs in mind.

Before you build and install a chatbot on your website, take a step back and really think about whether the information the chatbot would provide could also be presented on your website on an FAQ page. At Search Influence, our digital strategists can provide you with consulting about decisions like adding a chatbot to your site and social media accounts. For insightful digital marketing advice, request a proposal today.

Images: Robot teacher