Let’s Chat About Chatbots

Lilly Thuma Picture

by Lilly Thuma | Last Updated: Jan 26, 2021

If you would’ve asked me about chatbots a couple of years ago, I would’ve told you I avoid them at all costs. I never thought of them as a way to actually communicate with a brand or get my questions answered. But today it’s a different story. Now when I have a question or problem the first thing I look for is a chatbot on the website. And I’m not the only one who has had a change in heart. In the past years 67 percent of people have used chatbots, and in 2021 chatbots are expected to handle 85 percent of customer inquiries. So, what’s changed? Well for starters, we have undergone a digital transformation that led to technology improvements and artificial intelligence is now able to give chatbots more human-like qualities, but companies have also learned how to better use their chatbots. Instead of just sending you to the FAQs that you can already find on their website or mobile app, you can actually have a conversation and get your specific question answered. What Makes a Good Chatbot?

Yes, the main purpose of your chatbot is to answer consumer’s questions and help them solve their problems. But, that is not the only function of your chatbot. If you want to provide the best experience to consumers you should think of your chatbot as an extension of your brand, and realize it might be some people’s only interaction with your brand. Therefore, your chatbot should have some sort of personality that matches your brand and provide more value to consumers than just shooting out help article links. Not only will this satisfy customers, but it will also help increase brand engagement.

Second, consumers should be able to have a normal conversation with your chatbot. Have you ever answered a call from an unknown number and can immediately tell that it’s a robot? And what do you do if this happens… you hang up immediately. The same is true for chatbots. If I start a conversation and the bot doesn’t even sound remotely close to a human, I cut my losses and move on. Don’t make this mistake. The voice of your chatbot should be designed with your brand and target audience in mind. Think about how they talk, and what kind of conversation they are looking to have. The Whole Foods chatbot does an especially good job. Consumers can search recipes by sending emojis to the bot, and the bot will then send back recipes that involve that food. Whether you like emojis or not, it’s a pretty creative way to engage customers and lets them communicate the way they do in their daily life.

Chatbots are great for most things, like quick responses that get consumers the information they need without having to wait for someone to be available, but not everything should be handled by a chatbot. It is important brands know when a human needs to step in to help a customer. This doesn’t mean someone constantly needs to be on standby, but if something gets too complex to AI, there should be an option to speak to a real person.

Finally, make sure the chatbot is actually helpful. The whole point of a chatbot is that it should make things easier for the consumers, not harder. Your chatbot should be available for the majority of the day, 64 percent of people say it’s most helpful when they are available 24 hours and should be prepared to give actual answers to people. No one wants to go through a conversation with a chatbot and end up with a generic answer that isn’t relevant.

Chatbots are a super helpful tool that brands can leverage on their websites, apps, software platforms, etc. But simply just having a chatbot present isn’t going to cut it. It needs to be high functioning and provide actual value to consumers if it is going to be successful.

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