insights | 22.11.2022

Chatbots – are they a waste of time?

Article topics
  1. How do chatbots work?
  2. Benefits of chatbots
  3. Issues with chatbots
  4. Which chatbot is right for me?
  5. How to get the most out of your chatbot
  6. In summary: are chatbots really a waste of time?

If you’ve ever gone on a website and used the chat functionality, you might not have been talking to a person. You may have been talking to a chatbot.

A chatbot is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to hold a conversation with website users. Chatbots can be used to guide customers towards specific product pages, track deliveries, and even offer discounts.

58% of B2B websites and 42% of B2C websites use chatbots to answer customer queries, and these numbers are set to skyrocket over the next few years.

So, is it worth using a chatbot for your eCommerce business? In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using chatbots, which platform to use, and how to optimise your chatbot for the best results.

How do chatbots work?

Chatbots use two mechanisms to identify and answer user questions

The first mechanism is rules-based processes. This is when the administrator creates logic in the backend of the chatbot platform that triggers when specific actions and events happen.

For example, let’s say a customer visits a specific product page and stays there for a set amount of time. The chatbot could spring into action and ask them if they’d like to know more about the item they’re looking at.

The second mechanism is AI. This is when the chatbot identifies words and phrases that the customer users to answer questions.

For example, let’s say a customer uses chat to ask what product they should buy. A chatbot can ask a few questions (or look at their past purchases if they have an account) and make some recommendations.

Chatbot platforms either use rules-based processes, AI, or a combination of the two.

Benefits of chatbots

Chatbots offer many fantastic advantages to your business and keep your customers happy. And remember, 72% of satisfied customers will share a positive experience with six or more people!

The main advantage of chatbots is that they provide round-the-clock support to your customers. Whether your users interact with your chatbot on a Sunday, at 2 am, or when your marketing team is out at lunch, they’ll get the answer they need.

After all, while your team need to sleep, your chatbot doesn’t!

An AI chatbot can also save you money. It’s estimated that chatbots can reduce customer service costs by up to 30%, meaning increased business revenue.

Issues with chatbots

While a chatbot can be great for a business, it’s not a magic pill that can solve all your customer service issues.

AI sometimes doesn’t interpret messages correctly. For example, if a shopper uses a lot of slang or misspells words, there is a risk that a chatbot might not understand or, even worse, misinterpret a query. This can not only waste the customer’s time, but yours too.

Will the technology get better over time? Without a doubt. However, any businesses that use chatbots must train them correctly and have human operators available if needed. We’ll talk about this in more detail later.

Which chatbot is right for me?

There are a lot of different chatbots out there, and the right one for your eCommerce site depends on what you want. You’ll need to consider the following:

  • Budget. Some chatbot platforms are more expensive than others, depending on the services offered. As a rule of thumb, AI-based platforms are more costly
  • Whether they use AI or rules-based processes. As we mentioned earlier in the article, different chatbots have different approaches to customer queries. You need to know which mechanism will bring the most value to your business
  • Functionality. Chatbot platforms have unique selling points that may make them more appealing to your target customers. As an example, some chatbots let you extend support to social media, as well as your website
  • Ease of use. Different platforms have different learning curves when it comes to building bot responses. If you’re new to the world of AI and chatbots, you’ll want a system that’s simple to manage
  • Scalability. Will your chatbot of choice be able to grow as your business does?

The good news is that many AI chatbot platforms offer freemium versions and free trials. So you can try two or three different ones and see which you like most before you commit.

How to get the most out of your chatbot

Like all examples of AI, you get what you put into your chatbot. If you set it up and leave it to its own devices, you might be disappointed with the results.

Here are our top tips for ensuring your chatbot keeps your shoppers happy.

1. Try different messaging and see what works best

A/B testing is essential for seeing what users of your eCommerce site are most receptive to. It’s when you take two versions of a landing page, change a variable (for example, the colour of a call-to-action button) and see which is most successful.

You can do the same thing with your chatbot messaging. For example, do shoppers respond better to ‘hi’ or ‘hello’? Do they like emojis? Do they prefer a more light-hearted or serious tone of voice? This will help your chatbot draw customers in and win conversions for your business.

2. Keep your logic tight

If you use a chatbot with rules-based processes, it’s vital to organise your logic well to ensure your chatbot doesn’t take your customers around in circles. People have short attention spans, and if your chatbot takes too long to answer their questions, they’ll leave the conversation.

Plan your logic before you build it in the chatbot platform – post-it notes are great for this, as you can move them around!

Some chatbot platforms have ready-to-use templates you can use to ensure maximum efficiency; just tweak them to your specific needs.

3. Train your chatbot regularly

Think of your chatbot like a plant on your desk. It will drop and wilt if you leave it alone and ignore it. However, give it light and water, and it will always look its best!

Take the time to review your logic structure and provide new information to help your chatbot. Look at analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, as well as your other marketing channels, to see what questions customers are asking.

4. Know when to step in

There will be times when your customers have a question your chatbot can’t answer. When this is the case, you need a member of your team to get involved.

Always try and have someone on standby where possible – you can set up your chatbot platform to automatically pass a website user to a live agent when needed.

In summary: are chatbots really a waste of time?

An AI chatbot can provide excellent results for your business, but you only get out what you put in. A poorly managed chatbot will not benefit your website, but a well-maintained one will. A chatbot isn’t something you can ‘set’ and forget’!

Here’s a final thought for you. 55% of businesses that use chatbots generate higher-quality leads. If you’ve been looking to make more sales or boost average order value, a chatbot could be the key to success.

Want to keep up to date with the latest developments in eCommerce and digital marketing? Check out the Xigen blog.

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