Love them or hate them, chatbots aren’t going away anytime soon. And if you’re a business owner, that may be good news. Chatbots can save you a significant amount of time and money, providing faster customer support that translates to higher satisfaction for your customers.
Whether built directly into your website or accessible via Messenger through your company’s Facebook page, chatbots make it easier and more convenient for your customers to find the answers they need. But are they perfect? Unfortunately not—at least not yet.
If you’re on the fence about adopting a chatbot for your business, here are some of the possible advantages and disadvantages to consider before using this technology.
Pro: Chatbots offer constant availability
Chatbots don’t take lunch breaks. They don’t even sleep. Since they’re programmed to be automatic, they’re available to respond to your customers 24/7. That can be a huge plus if your target audience often seems to need speedy answers at 2am.
Con: Chatbots might alienate some customers
While the younger generation may be perfectly comfortable talking to chatbots by now, some older customers still prefer human interaction. It’s a good idea to look at your customers’ age demographics before deciding to implement a chatbot on your site.
Offering more than one option for communication (say, a chatbot and a customer service number) can help you get round this problem, taking some of the burden off your team without forcing anyone who dislikes chatbots to use them.
Pro: Chatbots deliver fast response times
If you’ve ever visited a website and almost immediately seen a pop-up window asking if you need help with anything, you know how quickly chatbots can start helping customers. With a chatbot on your site, you can deliver significantly faster service even when your customer services team is busy—which can lead to a significant increase in customer satisfaction.
Con: Chatbots can make mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and chatbots are no different. But whereas a simple mistake made by a human employee is often easily fixed, a chatbot mistake could cost you big time. Look no further than Microsoft’s experimental Twitter chatbot Tay, who within her first day of launch took to swearing at feminists and offering some controversial political opinions.
While it’s unlikely that your chatbot will screw up quite that majorly, there’s always the possibility that a chatbot could misinterpret a customer’s statement, become confused, or go off-topic—which can be really frustrating for the person on the other side of the conversation. On the plus side, chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can become smarter and more attuned to your customers’ needs over time, building a database of useful answers and information to dish out.
Pro: Chatbots are time and money savers
As humans, the number of things we can do at any one time is limited—and when it comes to answering customers’ queries, we operate on a strictly one-at-a-time basis. Chatbots aren’t burdened with that limitation. Instead of paying 10 customer service representatives to handle customer calls (leaving some customers on hold until one is available), you could simply build one chatbot into your site and let it chat to everyone simultaneously.
Final thoughts: Chatbots work better for certain businesses than for others
Chatbots are a great option for certain businesses, from food delivery services to retail sites and beyond. But if your customers are asking more complicated questions, a human representative may be better equipped to help them. You may find that your chatbot takes care of the simple questions (like whether you offer international delivery or what your return address is), freeing up your team to deliver the human touch elsewhere.
Ready to add a chatbot to your site? Our expert web development team can help. Contact us today to find out more.