We talk to many businesses who have or have begun to consider adding an online chat option to their website. Assessing which type of chatbot to adopt ultimately comes down to each organisation’s long-term growth strategy and the observed trajectory of customer needs.
This technology has been around since 1966 and has been experimented with ever since. Today we carry it with us everywhere and it’s called ‘Siri’, not ‘Eliza’. The next-gen AI is widely accepted, and people accept it because its quickly solving a problem. Humans always enjoy the path of least resistance, so face recognition software met with less resistance because passwords were a repetitive stress point. The more comfortable the population becomes with the digital evolution the more they will come to expect it. As long as the possible questions are finite, the possibilities for chatbot assistance is endless.
So, when faced with the choice between incorporating a Chatbot or a Live Chat there are some limitations and advantages with both to consider. Some businesses choose to use just one of these tools, while others may opt for a combination of the two. Common objectives for brands when engaging with customers are improving the digital experience and driving down the cost to serve, and this evolving AI is able to reinforce these marketing objectives with automated conversational engagement.
How alive is ‘live chat’?
Chat related icons now appear right across the internet, from boutique online commerce stores to global manufacturers and not just tech-related enterprises. Conveniently allowing the visitor to enquire about any aspect of the services offered when needed. In many cases, this option actually has a real person on the other side of the conversation. You can book a table at a restaurant using a Live Chat facility, get technical specifications relating to a SaaS product, ask questions related to legal services, get advice on clothes sizing on fashion websites, or ask about account issues with your electricity provider. The Live Chat options are endless and offer a quick way to resolve a problem or engage a service. Users can continue with their online activities and an audible or visual notification will alert them to responses, reducing frustrations while awaiting a response.
As it is ‘live’ and has a human responder, this is not always cost-effective especially if your customers’ expectations are that it’s available 24/7. But while each person is online and typing answers, they can manage multiple conversations at once. They can also be anywhere in the world while they do it. For some companies, rather than a customer leaving a message, a chatbot add-on can pick up the slack if a response is needed 24 hours a day.
What is a Chatbot?
Chatbots are able to run consistently around the clock and without the need to pay salary costs for humans to respond, and that is their big selling point. They are already found across our daily online interactions. From social media platforms to online retailers, allowing visitors to a website to access information and solutions at any time. Particularly useful for FAQs, as website visitors can get answers rapidly.
Ideally, a chatbot can provide a user-friendly, conversational option to a customer or client to self-serve and reduce common online dilemmas. They can work like a filtration system, fielding common questions, that would previously have been dealt with by expensive call centres, or gone unanswered. It is not a person, it is sophisticated software that allows users to convincingly chat, using text or text-to-speech apps. Alexa is a widely adopted example, rolled out by Amazon and in many homes across the world. Alexa provides an on-demand service whenever she is called upon, night or day.
In cases where the combination of questions and answers is too broad, many businesses offer a combination of chatbot and human contact. If a bot has exhausted its pre-set responses, they can direct the customer to a real-life member of staff who can take over, if it becomes necessary.
Currently, the challenges with chatbot conversations is the interpretation of language. AI has problems comprehending context, inflections, dialects, and sarcasm. But this is improving all the time. It won’t be long until robots pass the Turing test and we are having ‘real’ conversations with chatbots.
The overwhelming priority for many companies now is how to deliver an efficient service to clients and customers in a way that feels slick but not alien. Companies seeking to replicate the in-person experience may be missing the point. Chatbots and Live Chat give brands the chance to be better than an in-person experience, driving greater efficiencies across the operation. The chatbots offer the possibility to create something smoother, faster and easier than the human equivalent experience.
The potential benefits to a business that effectively integrates chatbot technology are exponential. Specifically:
- Quicker more time-efficient processes – saving time also saves money.
- Greatly reducing carbon footprint – reducing paperwork and journeys.
- Greater opportunities for feedback – allowing for faster implantation of UX improvements.
- Increased rates of customer satisfaction – giving marketing teams trumpets to blow.
- Higher rates of engagement – supporting marketing and sales goals.
- Reducing staffing costs – humans oversight will still be needed.
- Improved brand perception – embracing the technology available, it signals that a business is determined to meet client/customer needs now and in the future.
What the commercially available AI offers is a cost-effective solution to an on-demand customer service experience – reducing the friction that prevents your customers from going to more digitally savvy competitors. It can work alongside brand messaging, solicit feedback to refine and improve the business model. Chatbot software allows a brand to be there outside of usual ‘working hours’ so missed opportunities are dramatically reduced.
Whether it is a service or product-based business, there is a raft of possibilities and benefits to be gained from utilising this technology. Customer-centric operations will know that meeting the needs of the end-user is vital to future growth. The design and capacity of these programs are improving all the time. These bots are the best chance at engaging with clients and customers in an on-demand way.
Want a conversation about chatbots, live chat or engaging generally through your website? Get in touch today!