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Should My Website Use a Chatbot?

Chatbots are proven to increase conversions for the websites that use them. Plus, more than half of all businesses that use chatbots report that they generate higher-quality leads as a result of the technology. (In other words, yeah, you should probably use one!)

“Hi there, how can I help you?”

“Welcome! What are you looking for today?”

“My name is Jessica. Let me know if you need help finding what you’re looking for!”

In the past, you could only expect to be greeted this way when entering a shop or walking through a mall. That’s why physical stores have historically had a leg up on their online counterparts; they simply offered better customer service.

Well, thanks to the increased popularity of chatbots, that is no longer the case!

These days, you are just as likely to receive a personal greeting (like the ones listed above) in a virtual setting as in a physical one. When a website has a chatbot, you can ask questions, make appointments, and get valuable one-on-one attention . . . all without putting on pants!

For consumers, chatbots seem like a no-brainer—they’re convenient when you need them and easy to ignore when you don’t. But if you’re coming from the perspective of a business owner, you may have some questions. Namely, how much work goes into adding a chatbot to your website? And, is it really worth the effort? We’ve answered these questions, and a few others you might have, below.

What Is a Chatbot?

Before we dive deeper, let’s start with the basics. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a chatbot is a piece of software that mimics human conversation via text. Odds are, you’ve encountered quite a few in your time online. (Have you ever had a window with the words, “how can I help?” pop up in the bottom right corner of your webpage? Then you’ve seen a chatbot.)

Because these handy apps are showing up with greater frequency, you might think they’re not a big deal. But the truth is, the technology is pretty darn cool . . . especially if you happen to be a sci-fi fan with an interest in artificial intelligence.

That’s right—when you ask a chatbot a question, the answer usually comes from a computer program, not an actual person. (A big win for the introverts among us.) Although, it is worth mentioning that some chatbots are designed to send an email or text to a representative when someone interacts with the software.

In addition to artificial intelligence, chatbots are made possible through automated rules, machine learning, and natural-language processing programs. Thanks to all of this technology, chatbots are able to process queries and deliver appropriate responses.

That said, some chatbots are superior to others. This leads us to the next question . . .

Are There Different Types of Chatbots?

Since the technology behind chatbots is pretty complex, there are actually many different types for business owners to choose from. To keep things simple, we’ve broken it down into two main categories. They are:

1. Rule-based Chatbots

Engaging with a rule-based chatbot is less like having a conversation and more like following a series of questions to arrive at the answer or action you’re looking for. Usually, the customer will end up having achieved something simple, like scheduling an appointment with a business representative. Sometimes, the customer might receive a website link that offers a generic answer to the question they’ve posed to the chatbot.

Rule-based chatbots are much simpler than those that use artificial intelligence. As a result, they’re usually cheaper and easier to implement. But they can also be unhelpful if the customer’s question falls outside of the defined rules of the technology.

2. Artificial Intelligence Chatbots

Artificial intelligence chatbots are more complex and advanced. They use a technology called natural language processing (NLP) that allows the software to understand the intent behind a customer’s query. As a result, these chatbots are much more helpful in answering uncommon or complicated questions.

Engaging with an AI chatbot is similar to having a conversation with an actual human being. The customer can phrase their question in their own words and expect an appropriate response.

Some businesses are better off using a rule-based chatbot rather than an artificial intelligence chatbot, and vice versa. It really comes down to your industry and the types of questions you usually hear from customers who engage with your website.

When a website has a chatbot, you can ask questions, make appointments, and get valuable one-on-one attention . . . all without putting on pants!

What Are the Benefits of Using a Chatbot?

Although it’s not always clear which type of chatbot is the best choice for your business, one thing is certain: you definitely need one. There’s a reason why the number of websites using this technology multiplies each year. Here are just a few of the benefits reported by business owners:

  • Chatbots allow your businesses to engage with and support customers around the clock
  • They can handle the questions of hundreds (and even thousands) of customers while maintaining a level of consistency across the board
  • They make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, which leads to an increase in sales
  • They help businesses save money by reducing the need to expand the customer service department
  • They allow businesses to gather data to better understand their customers’ pain points

Ultimately, chatbots are preferred by customers (with 89% saying they appreciate the technology for its quick responses.) So if you’re hoping to create a website that optimizes user experience, chatbots are a great choice.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

We wouldn’t call it a drawback, but you should be aware that implementing a chatbot will cost you money. Of course, you can find bot builders that offer a free trial period. But if you’re looking to invest in the technology long-term, you need to be willing to pay. (And if you’re interested in custom-designing an AI chatbot, the price can quickly rise to tens of thousands of dollars.)

If this fact is giving you pause, remember that chatbots are proven to both increase sales and cut costs for the businesses that use them. In fact, it’s expected that chatbots will generate more than $100 billion in ecommerce transactions in 2023.

Okay, I’m Sold. But How Do I Get Started?

If you’re ready to add a chatbot to your website, you can hire a developer to help you custom-create one. Or, you can turn to a bot-building program like Qualified, Haptik, or Manychat. Either way, you’ll be doing your business, your website, and your customers a favor!

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