Find & Compare the Best Chatbot Deals
A chatbot is a computer program designed to mimic how people talk to each other.
Typically, you interact with them through a chat app, like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp.
You can ask them questions, and in return they’ll provide pre-written answers.
Every business has information that they need to tell the customer, like their opening hours, their prices or how to use their products.
The traditional way of doing this has been to simply write up long pages of text explaining all these details.
The issue is that people tend to glaze over or skip this information, leading to confusion and frustration down the line.
Chatbots, however, mimic real human conversations, which people are naturally more receptive to.
Even if they don’t pretend to be humans, they let customers ask the questions that concern them, at their own pace, rather than having to search through a long FAQ.
Chatbots are particularly useful at serving out information on sets of clearly-defined topics.
As an example, an airline’s website might have a chatbot that explains the process for booking a seat online with clear directions and images.
It might even automatically take the user to the right page, or let them make the purchase directly through text.
Afterwards, it could then ask if the user wants to hear more – perhaps what they get for upgrading to first-class or other secondary details.
This empowers the user to quickly get only the information they want, saving time and frustration on their end.
If you’ve been on the web long, you’ve almost certainly used a site that had a chatbot or virtual assistant in the corner.
Roughly 80% of businesses plan to use chatbots in one form or another, and that number is only going to increase as they grow more sophisticated.
While live service given by human operators is never going to die out completely, it’s likely to be reserved more and more solely for issues that the chatbots can’t handle.
It’s no accident that so many companies are using chatbots.
They provide a radical new alternative to traditional customer support models that offer massive benefits in terms of time and money spent.
Let’s examine a few in detail.
The beauty of machines is that they don’t need to sleep.
Customers can use the chatbots on your website at any time of day to find answers to their questions, and the responses will always come instantly.
This is even more important when you consider international customers, who’ll be working in different timezones to you – they might never be awake at the same time as your human support staff.
This is really the big one. Setting up a chatbot, even one with a monthly service fee, is usually many times cheaper than paying the wages of a live support agent.
Even if a chatbot can only answer a third of customer complaints, that means you can scale down your human support team by a third, or retarget them to more pressing issues.
It’s common for users to end up on a website with a goal in mind, but not be sure how to achieve it.
Maybe they want to pre-order a product, book seats for a gig or find reviews for a local restaurant.
Left to their own devices, they might not be able to figure out what they want to do, get frustrated and leave.
Chatbots let you intercept the customer at the start of the journey, giving them a guided tour of the site.
If you program in opinions for the most common customer journeys, like the examples above, then the customer can have a stress-free time with your website.
This leads to increased customer satisfaction and conversion rates – no more bounces after hitting the homepage.
Chatbots are not truly intelligent, because they can’t learn things or make their own decisions.
They typically work by picking up on keywords in the user’s messages, then matching that against a string of pre-written text in their database.
For example, if you send a message with the phrase ‘opening times’ somewhere in it, the chatbot is likely to send back a response with the company’s opening times, but it’s not thinking about what it’s doing.
‘True’ artificial intelligence that can hold a conversation with someone is only in the very early stages of development.
More and more, chatbots are using machine learning to bridge this gap and adapt their messages to the context of the conversation, but it’s a new development in the field.
They still work off the same underlying principle of pre-written messages.
Generally speaking, no. Once you buy a chatbot, you’ll have to spend some time writing up the lines you want it to say.
This is a positive, however, as it lets you tailor its dialogue to the specifics of your business.
You can also use this opportunity to inject some of your brand identity into the customer service experience, like having the chatbot speak as your mascot, if you have one.
How difficult a chatbot is to install is directly proportional to how advanced it is.
On one end of the scale, chatbots that simply send back pre-written lines are close to ‘plug-and-play’.
Installation is easy, and the hardest part is setting up their dialogue trees.
Chatbots that use machine learning, however, can be much more time-consuming.
This is primarily because machine learning requires lots of data to start making accurate judgements, and corporate data is often too messy (‘noisy’) to do this easily.
A common estimate puts fully-featured chatbot deployment at close to two months.
Chatbots are a very alluring technology, but it’s important to stay realistic.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work to integrate a chatbot with your site.
Even the most advanced, AI-driven chatbot in the world can’t do as much as a live human being on the other end of the support call.
Rather than using them to conduct the entire user experience, deploy chatbots to help your live agents and take off the pressure of answering simple questions.
Unless you plan on using an automated service like Google Translate to get foreign-language versions of your chatbot (a very bad idea, by the way), you’re going to have to write separate versions of every query for each language you support.
If you only want to target English-speaking customers, this isn’t a problem.
In today’s international marketplace, however, it’s usually worth hiring freelance translators to serve users from multiple regions.
No chatbot can perfectly imitate a human support agent.
If you make one that can, you’ll probably end up getting a Nobel Prize.
As such, customers always know that they’re talking to a robot, not a person.
This can lead to them feeling frustrated and skipping over the chatbot’s text in an attempt to reach a live agent, negating their usefulness.
Bots should be used in moderation – not to replace the entire customer support experience.
The chatbot market is huge.
Many companies offer pre-made bots ready for customisation, and others provide tools to let you build your own bots without any coding experience.
Let’s consider some of the features that set different bot services apart.
As described earlier, chatbots can range from simple question-and-answer machines to complicated little boxes of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
It’s important to ask what your goals are, and what level of intelligence you actually need.
Simpler bots are generally easier to set up and tes, not to mention cheaper.
AI bots, however, like those of Freshchat, can use their machine learning experience for useful tasks like deciding when it’s best to transfer a customer to a human agent.
Many chatbots these days don’t operate just on a company’s website. Instead, they’ll work out of the company’s Facebook page or Whatsapp account.
This cuts down on a platform that your live staff have to monitor, but not every bot supports these platforms.
If you already use one of these platforms – or others, like Twitter, for example – consider sticking with a chatbot solution that supports them.
It’s often possible to set up a chatbot just once and then deploy it to multiple platforms, saving you a large amount of time.
The pricing models for chatbots requires some explanation.
While most work off of a standard software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, the monthly price is usually determined by a number of factors, like how many chatbots you have active, how many messages they’re serving out and how much dialogue you want them to have.
Often, a company’s more expensive plans include unique features.
ChatBot.com’s ‘Team’ tier, for example, includes ‘Smart Actions’, which lets bots take information from conversations and send it to other parts of your web service (like the eCommerce database, for example).
When it comes to deciding on the best chatbot platform for you, you should carefully consider the size of your business and how many customers you expect the bots to be serving.
Chatbots, especially those driven by AI, can quickly become very expensive, so make sure you’d be getting the most out of their features before pulling the trigger. Use our comparison function above to help find the best chatbot deal for you.
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