Both buzzword and promising technology, the chatbot is drawing attention. These conversing robots – capable of ensuring your customer service at any time of day or night, 365 days a year – are being used more and more by major companies through the most common messaging mediums (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.). But beyond the fad, are they really useful or is it just a gadget to entertain the most technically-oriented of your customers? Here you have some things to start reflecting about.
IN THE ENTRAILS OF A CHATBOT
A chatbot is a third-party feature offered by the main messaging tools that allows you to interact with a virtual entity from any platform (cell phone, computer or tablet). If we find most chatbots within Messenger and others, it is also possible to design your own chatbot for a merchant website or on a page dedicated to customer service, for example. A chatbot can use two main attributes to communicate: voice or text.
Each exchange can also be accompanied by suggested answers, or by buttons to validate a choice within a decision tree. Because if the effort is getting a lot of attention, as has been clear from the start: a chatbot is nothing more than a computer program built by developers from predefined scenarios built in advance by your marketing and sales departments. In other words, the myth of the chatbot, filled with artificial intelligence, fully autonomous and self-learning, will probably be true in a few years, but it is not yet the case.
However, the chatbot is democratized and, theoretically, everyone can have their own. However, not everyone will be able to design, optimize and use it wisely. Even if there are solutions that partially automate the construction of chatbots in SaaS mode, this is a complex task that often needs to be outsourced.
CASES WHERE A CHATBOT IS TOTALLY UNUSABLE
Let’s start by avoiding the disillusions. Yes, the chatbot is in, it’s trendy and it’s a promising new tool that’s always present, never late or on vacation, but the question you have to ask yourself is: do you really need it? Specifically, a chatbot will be useless for all complex issues or for dealings with customers involving delicate nuances that only a human mind can understand and analyze.
If decision-making requires reflection on a case-by-case basis or even interaction between several people, the chatbot is totally useless. It’s the same from the moment that your communication with a sales prospect or customer aims to create added value that goes beyond a simple list of technical characteristics.
Finally, in cases of simple choices, such as choosing a restaurant menu in advance, for example, if the list is too vague, too long or too diverse, it will be a real waste of time for the user. Put simply, a chatbot is an interactive form in XXL format. But there are things that forms on a simple web page do much better than chatbots.
CASES WHERE A CHATBOT IS REALLY VERY USEFUL
This does not mean that you have to lose interest in chatbots. In certain situations, they can save you time, money and enhance the customer experience.
For repetitive, simple and low value-added tasks, such as making an appointment, answering questions such as “opening hours” or an online registration for a flight, the chatbot is much more efficient and faster than an internet search or making contact with a person in the flesh. From the moment an approach is more quickly achievable with a chatbot than with a human action, it is generally useful to think about its development.
On the other hand, the chatbot is also a system capable of being on the front line, handling customers. It will not answer the pointed questions, but it will be able to collect essential information so that a support or commercial service can, then, do its work more efficiently.
Finally, in sending notifications such as “confirmation of purchase”, “delivery” or satisfaction questionnaires, it remains, here too, a safe bet as part of a conversational marketing strategy.
The chatbot is a reflection of the evolution of the mobile, asynchronous and social consumption that is affecting our society. Very useful for making an in-store appointment, answering basic pre-identifying questions, ordering a pizza or booking a train ticket, the chatbot is ultimately neither gadget nor essential. It is an additional communication channel that must be treated as such, tailored to your target, market, and expectations.
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