What are Chatbots and Do I Need Them?
By now I’m sure you’ve seen some version of a chatbot on a website or mobile app. You know the little chat bubble that hangs out in the bottom right corner of the screen? It might have a little pop-up that says something along the lines of “How can I help you today?”
Today we’re going to explore these chatbots on what they accomplish and help you figure out if you need one for your site?
In this blog post, I’m going to tell you all about chatbots, the different kinds, where to find them, and whether or not if you need one for your site or app.
What is a Chatbot?
There are a few different kinds of chatbots, so let’s talk about the AI Chatbot first. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chatbot is software that can simulate a user conversation with a natural language through a messaging application. Typically this kind of chatbot has been programed with hundreds to thousands of responses to commonly asked questions.
For example, your favorite restaurant may have a chatbot to help answer questions like what’s on the menu for today or what time does the restaurant closes and even can take your reservation all directly from the one chatbot.
These AI chatbots can be very convincing in that it can make the user think they are talking to a real person when in fact it’s all just preprogrammed responses. I saw one AI chatbot that other day that was named “Susan” with an avatar picture of a middle aged woman., but after about 10 minutes I quickly realized that “Susan” was in fact a robot and not a real person, but It did have me fooled for a hot minute because you don’t associate the name Susan with a robot, you associate the name Susan with a middle-aged woman.
On the opposite side of that are chatbots that are actually real-life humans. A lot of car dealerships for example will have a dedicated online sales representative whose, the sole job is to attend to the online chat and was always ready to help answer any questions that a prospective buyer might have. After the user leaves, the sales rep would also gather any information from the user to follow up to help land the sale.
Why are Chatbots Popular?
The main benefits and the argument for chatbots is that it helps give the user or website visitor the answers to their questions they need within seconds and with AI Chatbots they can deliver those answers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and by engaging with your customer at any time.
When is the best time to make a sale? As soon as possible and with chatbots they can really help with customer engagement in order to help the customer decide to make the purchase.
- Deliver Faster Chat Support
- Cut Down on Support Costs
- Offer Proactive Customer Service
- Helps with collecting data and customer leads
Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash
The Bad Side of Chatbots
In regards to AI chatbots, they can only provide the support or answers to questions that they are programmed to answer. So while they “chat” they can’t “think” If the user asks a question that the chatbot hasn’t been programmed to answer then the chatbot won’t be able to comprehend the question thus leaving the customer frustrated.
There are other companies that have used AI chatbots but claimed that it’s a live chat or that it’s a live person, but customers can usually tell right away if it’s a robot and doesn’t appreciate the facade. This is a sure-fire way to eliminate any brand loyalty or trust in that company.
Other chatbot bubbles can just be straight-up annoying with constant bubbles that pop up asking if you need help or assistance. It’s like walking into a department store and being bombarded by 5 sales reps every 2 seconds when you’re just there to browse around in peace and quiet.
Not to mention that some chatbots can get in the way of the actual content that you are trying to look at on a site especially on mobile when the screen real estate is a lot more limited.
Where Do You Find These Chatbots?
It really just depends on what type of chatbots you’re looking for, but here are a few to look into.
Join.Chat is a WhatsApp WordPress chat plugin that gives you the option to activate a chatbot to answer FAQ’s related to your business or product. $24 for one website, $48 for the three websites, or $149 for unlimited number of websites.
Collect.chat WordPress chatbot is great for service based businesses. It allows you to choose a template to allow visitors to set up appointments by providing a calendar feature that will also connect to your Google Calendar. They have a free plan of up to 50 responses a month. A Lite Plan for $24/month or a Plus Plan for $99/month.
Tidio features a clean interface and an easy to integrate into any WordPress website. They offer the choice between setting it up for live chat with you or one of your team members or you can also choose their virtual ai chat with access of up to 20+ templates that you can build upon. They offer a free plan for 100 unique visits, $39/month, and a $15/month (Billed per operator)
Drift is your more robust chatbot that offers a fully scalable chatbot sales and marketing solution. Featuring personalized customer experiences that you can implement across all channels. Pricing for Drift is not accessible, but you can go here to learn more about their different plans.
Those are just 4 of the many chatbot plugins and companies that offer them. Just remember that not all chatbots are created equal and they really range among all price levels.
Which Chatbot Do I Use?
I saved the best for last for a reason!
You’ve decided that you don’t want a robot talking to your potential customers, but you also don’t want to be logged into your website or the backend of your chat platform 24 hours a day. What do you then? Is there a happy medium that can solve this? Well, you’re in luck because there is!
ManyChat is what I’m currently using here on my website. It allows me to have a chatbot or chat like feature on my site that I can directly connect to my direct messages on Instagram, Facebook, and also directly to my text messages on my phone.
This allows me to increase my engagement with website visitors and help to generate more leads by providing instant or near-instant support. Since I’m already checking my DM’s (Direct Messages) throughout the majority of the day and night ManyChat helps direct my website visitors to my DM’s.
I don’t need to code anything and I also have the option to program it if I want with responses as well all with a drag n’ drop interface. ManyChat also allows me to capture information in order to send out coupons, discounts, promotions, newsletters and even booking confirmations.
If you use Google Sheets, MailChimp, Hubspot or any of those other tools, you’ll be happy to know that they can be easily integrated with ManyChat.
The best part of ManyChat is that it’s free for the basic features and engagement for up to 1,000 contacts, which is perfect for my small business. If you plan on more than 1,000 contacts their pro version starts at only $15/month! This price then scales from there depending on the number of contacts.
The Bottom Line
Love them or hate them, Chatbots are here to stay. I highly recommend doing your own research on the different kinds of chatbots that are being offered and if they will either help convert sales or if they will scare potential customers away. It’s a delicate balance, but I can say from experience that I’ve had a lot more personal interactions with my website visitors than otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to.
Try out one or two of the chatbots that I talked about and see if they’ll work for you. Let me know down in the comments if you use a chatbot on your website or mobile app or let me know if you have any additional recommendations?
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