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Is a Website Chatbot Right for My Business?

Chatbots have become a popular tool for businesses. When correctly utilized, a website chatbot is able to automate aspects of the customer service experience that would otherwise eat up the customer service team’s valuable time. 

But how do you know if a website chatbot is right for your business? First, there are two different types of chatbots: Rule-based chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots. Let’s consider the pros and cons of each. 

Rule-Based Chatbots vs. Artificial Intelligence Chatbots

Rule-based chatbots are the most common because they are simple and affordable. Rule-based chatbots operate on an if/then basis. This makes them fairly easy to train and implement. However, it also limits their communication capabilities. In many instances, the chatbot will need to turn customers over to a human agent anyway. 

Rule-based chatbots do not learn; every rule must be directly taught to the chatbot. While this means setting up the chatbot is easy, it also makes it challenging to maintain. For those who do not want to hire a developer to create a simple chatbot, there are many companies that offer out-of-the-box chatbots with customization options for your business. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning in order to handle a multitude of complex tasks, often in multiple languages. Capital One, for example, developed a chatbot that understands the contextual phrasing for various banking activities. Building and training an AI chatbot takes a lot of information and time, not to mention money. AI chatbots are best for large companies with a lot of information to feed the chatbot. 

Though expensive at the onset, AI chatbots are self-learning and do not need to be updated like rule-based chatbots. They are able to handle communication in a human-like way. While they have the capacity to interpret, they do not understand context. Additionally, companies need to consider the cost of hiring a senior developer to maintain an AI chatbot. This increases the overall cost.

A Website Chatbot Answers Questions for Your Business

If you are still unsure of whether or not a chatbot is right for your business website, consider what value you want a chatbot to add. What specific functions of the business is the chatbot intended to improve? Rule-based chatbots are ideal for common customer questions. 

These types of chatbots can often function as a responsive FAQ for a business. For some businesses, they are made even more effective by including pre-determined buttons. These allow customers to easily receive the answer they need in a conversational format. For example:

  • “What are your hours?”
  • “Where are you located?”
  • “Can I speak with a customer service agent?”
  • “How much does shipping and handling cost?”

Ultimately, the goal is quality customer service. Whether or not a chatbot is right for your business will depend on the functions it is meant to perform, and how successfully it can handle the customer interactions that are common in your business.

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