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To Chatbot or Not?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Dodgeballseo to chatbot or not

Over the last several years, many businesses added chatbots to their websites. At first, they seemed like a good way for visitors to get help or answers to simple questions. After a while, the virtual assistants became less useful to most people because their interactions with them, especially preprogrammed chatbots, seemed off, disconnected, misconstrued, or completely useless.

Here’s what you need to know to deliver a chatbot experience on your website that visitors will find engaging and helpful, and not leave them with a negative impression of your business.

Why Do Chatbots Fail?

Before we discuss how to build a good chatbot, let’s take a look at the things that cause them to disappoint — or worse, make users angry or leave them frustrated.

  • Poor targeting: Businesses sometimes install chatbots without having a clear picture of who’s interacting with them. The bots use terms, phrases, and a messaging tone website visitors don’t connect with. Your chatbot should reply to queries in a tone, voice, and style that resonates with the people in your customer base.

  • Chatbots used to handle customer complaints: Leveraging chatbots for this purpose is often viewed by people as a way to prevent them from speaking with a live service agent. This usually leaves unsatisfied customers angry and frustrated. There is no surer way to turn a complaint into a bad online rating and review than not providing dissatisfied customers with a human being to vent to. The use of chatbots should only be used to provide simple guidance to online visitors. Make it easy to connect with a customer service rep when people need help with an issue.

  • Use with older people: Older generations may not trust or be willing to use a virtual assistant. It’s a best practice to offer an alternate contact method, such as phone or email, for people who don’t like chatbots or become frustrated with yours.

  • Inability to understand: Chatbots, even those powered by artificial intelligence, recognize a limited number of queries. This is complicated by the fact that there can be countless variations for even the simplest questions or comments. Add to this the issue of misspellings. Users who have to input their queries too often give up and move on to competitors that deliver a simpler experience. After you launch a chatbot, regularly check its back-end records to identify where users are dropping off. This will allow you to make adjustments that will result in a smarter chatbot experience.

  • Slowness: A chatbot may respond slowly if it has to search through a large amount of data or when it becomes overloaded with requests. This gives visitors another reason to abandon and check out your competitors. Cloud-based chatbot back-end architecture can sort through almost any amount of data quickly and handle temporary usage spikes.

  • Privacy concerns: Some people are worried about using chatbots because many platforms are controlled by companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. They’re concerned because the bots could be used to gather personal information. The best way to handle this is to move beyond posting a standard privacy policy on your website, and make it clear and obvious who your chatbot provider is, what information is collected and how it will be used. Being above board will go a long way toward earning the trust of skittish chatbot users.

How to Make a Chatbot that Provides Value

Here are our top tips for creating a chatbot your website visitors will trust and love and get them to take action.

  • It helps people find things: Whether it’s products, services, or information, your chatbot must make it simple for website visitors to find anything they’re looking for and link directly to it.

  • It explains things simply: The answers and statements served up by your chatbot must be doled out in ways that make it easy for people to consume them. There’s nothing more difficult to read or comprehend than a five-scroll chat answer on a smartphone.

  • Reserve it for the easy stuff: Do you have some simple things, such as product orders or scheduling requests, you regularly get calls about? Use your virtual assistant to handle them. It will give your customer service team more time and bandwidth for complex queries.

  • Ensure you have human backup: If you decide to run your chatbot 24/7, always have people available to step in when needed. It’s frustrating to go through a long and complex chat and not be able to connect with a human to complete the interaction. If you can’t provide in-person support, turn off your bot and instruct visitors to come back during business hours. Or even better, get them to leave their contact info so someone can get in touch with them when they’re available.

  • Check your translation service: If you support chat in multiple languages, have it tested by real native speakers. It will help prevent embarrassing or offensive translation errors.

  • Find out if it can handle usage spikes: Before driving a large amount of traffic to your site, check that your virtual assistant system can handle it. Your service provider can advise you on this.

  • Don’t cross-sell excessively: You can use your chat function to mention products and services visitors may not be aware of, but don’t go overboard. Users will lose trust in your chatbot if they view it as a sales bot.

  • Offer benefits for chatbot-related purchases: Provide discounts, coupons, and promo codes on your chatbot to encourage purchases through it. People may even tell their friends that you’re doing so, which could get them to check out your site and use your bot.

  • Understand your target audience: Make certain your chatbot personality, tone, and messaging align with your user’s expectations. If you give it an avatar, ensure that it’s somebody they’ll trust and like interacting with.

To Chatbot or Not

In the end, the decision is yours. If you decide to add a chatbot to your website, you owe it to yourself to avoid the common pitfalls that come with them and take steps to ensure your visitors will engage with it and benefit from the experience.

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