A couple of years ago it was hard to even imagine a service-related business with no customer service department or a call-center. Well, now it seems like we have to.
One topic everybody is talking about is chatbots. However, all we hear is fragmentary information and case-based analysis with rare answers on whether I need to use it in my business or not.
Thus, I’m up to pointing out some pros and cons you need to know about the chatbot-fever. In other words, I’d like to give a short review of what is actually going on in there.
What do they do?
Chatbots basically work as an optimizer of a customer service. They answer the typical users’ questions that can be answered by templated information. They work by a set plot and mainly suggest the questions for customers to ask.
Below is the desktop screen of what Poncho can do over his primary function of reporting the weather forecast. He jokes and entertains so you won’t forget about him. He reminds you that you need a weather forecast no matter what.
At the same time, Poncho is a quite simple chatbot with limited functions. So he, of course, suggests exactly what you can ask him.
What’s nice about them?
The first thing you should know about the chatbot spread is that in 2016 the number of people using messengers reached 1.6 billion. It’s expected to reach 2 billion users in 2018, and that is 80 percent of people using smartphones.
According to Business Insider Intelligence, messengers have left behind the social media. For marketers, it means that messengers are becoming one of the main platforms for business promotion. And chatbots seem to be a great tool for that. That is rather a contextual advantage of using chatbots for your service, but still, an important thing to know.
Chatbots provide personalized experiences
It may sound as creepy as it is fascinating, but bots use machine learning to get to know us better. Thus, they can personalize the information they give. So the user gets the products list arranged particularly for her/him.
Besides, chatbots are good at targeting the right audience and adjusting to their needs. In other words, while respecting privacy, chatbots know what the user needs, likes and wants. Besides, the bots make their suggestions with lightning speed.
For now, Facebook Messenger hosts over the 34,000 chatbots and remains their main habitat. However, chatbots have a big potential for implementation in personalized corporate accounts on other social media. And among other fresh social media features is Twitter’s launch of business accounts that can become a new platform for the chatbots to flourish on.
Chatbots are fast and accurate
Probably the main advantage of bots is that they provide a rapid and targeted service. They respond immediately to the users’ demand with the precisely relevant information. This boosts the speed of the communication process and thus increases the number of purchases. It’s a win-win combination that makes both customer and business satisfied.
In other words, chatbots make your service faster. They can automatically book or buy tickets/rooms/tables. They don’t need time to think, tape, close and open tabs.
This feature also comes in handy for news companies, because bots immediately share the hottest news with the users, outrunning the competitors. Being the first one to report news is one of the most effective psychological tricks to increase of your credibility.
Chatbots work without a lunch
Chatbots don’t eat, don’t sleep and don’t get tired. They work 24/7 and the best part is that they can operate a number of requests at the same time.
Customers no longer need to queue up and spend time listening to Mozart’s Turkish Rondo on the phone. They get the information they need exactly when they ask for it.
Finally, chatbots don’t want extra money for night shifts.
Chatbots are cheaper
For now, there are no businesses that have totally replaced human-participated customer service with chatbots. Nevertheless, the latter are already reported to be able to cut costs of maintaining customer service up to 29 per cent.
Compared to apps, chatbots also win in terms of costs. They are easier to develop and don’t require the effort-consuming updates that apps do.
For small businesses that cannot afford the supply of a customer service department, chatbots become a sort of a lifebuoy.
However, with all their potential and obvious benefits, chatbots can be tricky in use. Below you’ll find the list of some considerable disadvantages.
#1. Not for every business
The businesses whose main product is providing a service benefit from chatbots the most. Customers’ requests for pizza delivery services, taxi, retail and travel companies, shoe shops etc. are mostly predictable and stereotyped. Thus, it’s technically easier to design an accurate and cheap bot for these needs.
Yet there are B2B companies whose clients’ support give primary comprehensive consultations. Chatbots can be programmed to answer only templated questions and they cannot improvise. So for this kind of businesses, a human-to-human interaction is still an irreducible element of customer support.
#2. Show poor retention (not all of them)
According to Chatbots Magazine, most chatbots cannot bring users further than the first two messages. While around 25 percent of users drop off after the second text, 40 percent of users never pass the first one. In other words, although useful and effective, chatbots rarely have an opportunity to demonstrate their attributes.
Already-mentioned Poncho has managed to break this statistic and to show higher retention. What you need is to work on the engagement capabilities of your bot.
In accordance with your audience, design not a faceless bot but a character with its own style and temper. Try A/B testing, don’t be afraid of experiments.
#3. Have limited audience
Kik statistics indicate that 60 percent of people who use bots are teenagers (13-19 years old). Moreover, 81 percent of the overall amount of bot users are from the US, while Canada and the UK have the others on their side.
So you need to analyze your product and the audience you want to target before making chatbots a part of your marketing and customer care strategies.
#4. They make mistakes
Bots can be faster and more precise that a human customer assistant, but sometimes they can get confused by the user’s request. They are not human and cannot improvise with information when it’s needed.
They can lose track of conversation and go off topic. They don’t understand sarcasm and can be easily bewildered. Finally, they can start praising Hitler and that is definitely not what a good customer service should do.
Chatbots have great potential as an element of customer service, that’s a fact. Yet you shouldn’t fall for them just because it’s a new fancy thing to do.
Being a part of the business means it has to reflect its main aims and values. So you should consider chatbots as a consistent extension of your strategy that will harmoniously complete your social media presence.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.