If you pay any attention to the latest trends in technology and business, you’re well aware that chatbots are all the rage right now. Many companies are leveraging this tool to automate customer service and provide a better customer experience all while saving money.
Naturally, this has a lot of business owners and digital marketers wondering if they need a chatbot as well.
The answer is…maybe. Chatbots undoubtedly offer incredible value for some companies. For example, Avis Budget was able to automate almost 70% of its service calls with a chatbot. However, you have to consider whether a chatbot is really a good fit for your business as well as your customers.
Here are a few quick points to consider when evaluating whether a chatbot will pay off for your business.
Not All Chatbots Are Created Equal
Before we get further into talking about chatbots, it’s worth noting that the quality, capabilities, and cost of chatbots can vary dramatically. Not all chatbots are created equal, and it’s crucial to understand the differences between them before deciding if your business needs one.
At their most basic, chatbots can answer simple questions like “what are your hours?” or “where are you located?” These chatbots are affordable and easily accessible to small businesses.
At the other end of the spectrum are high-end “virtual agents” – sophisticated chatbots that can answer an array of customer questions and handle complex requests. They are also better at dealing with slang, typos, and grammatical errors that would pose challenges to more basic chatbots.
Accordingly, these virtual agents are prohibitively expensive for any business that’s not already spending millions on customer service and answering thousands of messages.
So How Sophisticated Would Your Chatbot Need to Be?
In order to weigh the potential benefits of a chatbot for your business, you have to ask yourself how sophisticated the chatbot would need to be. If you run a restaurant franchise and the chatbot only needs to answer basic questions about hours, the menu, and locations, then you could probably get by with a fairly inexpensive chatbot.
On the other hand, if you are a manufacturing or engineering firm that has to field a variety of technical questions from prospects, a chatbot will likely be very expensive.
The fact of the matter is that having no chatbot is often better than having a bad chatbot. A poor chatbot experience can turn off customers and drive them to the competition. If you’re going to implement a chatbot, make sure you have the resources to implement it the right way.
Will Your Customers Truly Value a Chatbot?
Chatbots often look great on paper, but you have to consider whether they will be truly appreciated and utilized by your prospects and customers. For example, some people – older demographics in particular – will always refuse to use your chatbot, no matter how sophisticated or advanced it is.
Likewise, one of the biggest benefits of a chatbot is immediate responses 24/7. But if your customer service team already responds quickly, or if you don’t get many messages outside of business hours, then a chatbot won’t bring as much value.
What Are You Looking to Gain and How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
Ultimately, the chatbot conversation comes down to two questions: what are you looking to gain and how much are you willing to spend?
Businesses implement chatbots for a few primary reasons: 24/7 service, fast responses to customer requests, answers to simple customer questions, and the ability to offer easy, convenient communication. The aforementioned virtual agents can offer even more by handling more complex requests but the basic idea remains the same.
Ask yourself which of these benefits would truly add value to your business. Then ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend on implementing a quality chatbot. In some cases, you may be better off by simply investing in a larger or more efficient customer service team.
Chatbots Do Offer a Lot of Value, But They Aren’t a Silver Bullet
A lot of companies have saved millions of dollars with chatbot technology and improved customer service. However, for the majority of businesses, they aren’t the silver bullet for the customer experience that we want them to be.
Like many things in business, it comes down to thinking critically about your unique situation and customers.
If you want some input on whether a chatbot would really benefit your organization, give us a call at (248) 579-9972. We love talking about new technologies for sales and digital marketing and would be happy to offer our two cents.