Why use Chatbots on your website

Monday, 6 April 2020

Chatbots have come a long way since their inception, which can be traced back to 1966, with the arrival of ELIZA, one of the first language processing computer programs to be created for IBM. How times have moved on. Often now you can be having a ‘conversation’ with what you think is a human and you are communicating with a chatbot.  At ID Studio we see chatbots as a significant growth industry that will continue to make enormous headway throughout 2020 and beyond.

Without being aware of it, many of us are using a chatbot daily. This could be through Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or a ‘live chat’ application on a website that acts just like a human would. How many times have you recently visited a website and a ‘chat now’ option opens? Been halfway through an online buying process and a chat window appears trying to address any concerns or issues? They have become the norm in many circumstances.

This doesn’t mean that chatbots are flawless, far from it, they are not yet fully capable of complete cognitive perception, and we will cover some of their flaws later in this blog.

When to use a chatbot?

The following points made below are a generalisation, some will not be relevant for all business types or industry sectors. One of the first areas we encourage our clients to look at is their user base. According to Google trends, the core age group that is most interested in chatbot usage are people aged 18 – 49 (mainly men). However, this massively decreases when you look at people aged 50+. It is vital to make sure there is a demand for it and that it doesn’t put off your customer base. The whole point of the chatbot is to serve your website visitors, such as to resolve an issue, provide information or answering a question. We believe that businesses who adapt their chatbots to their clients’ needs will be ahead of the game, gaining a competitive advantage over their rivals.

How accurate are chatbots?

If you incorporate a chatbot that doesn’t work correctly, this can have disastrous consequences for your business and your reputation. Not only do you annoy and frustrate your potential customer base, but you are also likely to encourage them to leave your website for a rival.

Below are some methods used to improve functionality:

  • Add Natural Language Processing (NLP) – the ability to derive understanding from human conversation
  • Understand your user habits and demographics
  • Analyse chatbot analytics, looking for problem areas
  • Reduce text, the last thing someone wants to see is a wall of information flung at them that could be condensed to a sentence
  • Keep the chatbot updated continuously, keep modifying and improving
  • UX and UI design throughout
  • Ability to move complex interactions to an actual human advisor
  • Gather feedback from the user about the chatbot’s performance
  • Allow users the ability to undo if they make an incorrect response. They might well have spent five minutes getting to this stage and be unwilling to go through the process again

How can using chatbots benefit your website and business?

There are many ways that businesses can use chatbots to help improve their efficiency and customer experience. Some of the main benefits are listed below:

  • Improve your customer service level – by using a chatbot, you can provide twenty-four-hour coverage and real-time solutions reducing drop-offs
  • Immediate, quick answers
  • They can handle thousands of chats at one time and don’t need breaks
  • They can impress your customer base, creating a professional and modern feel for your business
  • If utilised correctly, they can be used to gather valuable customer data and patterns that can be useful for other business activities
  • In addition to answering questions, they can be used to perform surveys
  • Chatbots can help drive sales, effectively providing core information as well as offloading leads that do not have the budget, saving valuable staff time
  • They can help increase user engagement if designed and implemented correctly
  • They can save money by reducing staff wages
  • Cut down on errors that are inevitable with humans at some stage

What will the future hold?

As we have witnessed in the past few years, the global uptake of chatbots and their ability to mimic human behaviour has grown massively. Global Market Insights predicts the chatbot market to be worth US$1.3 billion by 2024. 

Bots will continue to improve, as AI evolves, many experts believe in the future that they will learn to tailor their responses to the individual, learning about their preferences, insights and characteristics along the way.

Another potential area for strong growth will be the use of chatbots for making payments, Mastercard currently makes excellent use of this functionality.

My two pence worth

Should you tell your site visitor from the beginning that they are dealing with a chatbot, not a human? A recent study from MindShare states that 75% of customers want to know if they are dealing with a bot or human. I would want to know, however, this may change as we become more accustomed to using bots, and it becomes the norm.

Finally, for any chatbot to work well, businesses need to have a thorough understanding of their requirements, visitor characteristics, continuously analyse and review data to keep improving the experience. The cost savings that can be offered by a chatbot that is set up correctly will continue to attract the attention of businesses.