Is your business ready to team up with chatbots?

Is your business ready to team up with chatbots?

  1. What are chatbots?
  2. Types of chatbots
  3. How can chatbots help your business?
  4. How should you select a chatbot for your business?
  5. Should you be investing in chatbots for your business?

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes in the way we live, we work and do business. We need to find a way to live with the Coronavirus till a cure is at hand. Adaptation to the times is key to running any business, and we should treat this pandemic no differently.

If you have reached this article, I am going to assume you have an online presence already (website, possibly an app). You are researching how Chatbots can help your business or you are looking for pointers on how best to tool Chatbots for your business.

This article will help you understand how you can leverage chatbots to best help your business.

1. What are chatbots?

Let’s break the word first.

A ‘Bot‘ is an artificial intelligence software designed to perform a series of tasks on its own. A ‘Chatbot‘ is a type of bot that is capable of simulating a conversation with a person, in a natural language (such as English). Chatbots can help inform a user, or help them fulfil a task, through the conversation it holds with the user.

Chatbots are revolutionizing the way companies interact with their customers. During the early 2010s, bots were considered a passing tech fad. With companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook deploying bots in almost all areas of their business, this debate has been laid to rest.

2. Types of chatbots

There are two types of chatbots – Rule-based chatbots (also referred to as a Simple Chatbot) and AI bots.

Rule-based chatbots respond to queries / statements based on a pre-defined set of rules. These rules are embedded by developers into the chatbot. The set of rules can vary in complexity.

Building this kind of bot is relatively simpler, quicker, and much cheaper. These bots are highly accountable and secure. They provide answers the company wants them to provide. As they do not self-learn, they provide consistent customer-support. The limitation is that a rule-based chatbot will not understand the intent and context of the user’s conversation with it.

A rule-based chatbot is best used where the domain and language used is limited, and customer scenarios are a pre-defined set of options. In cases where the bot does not find a query in its database, it will hand-over the conversation to a human agent.

AI-bots differ from rule-based chatbots, in that they are self-learning. Self-learning meaning they need not be programmed entirely by developers. Rather, once they are programmed, they take longer to learn, but then they learn themselves. These bots learn from previous conversations it has had with users, and if programmed also from data available within the company.

Yet, AI bots have their share of limitations. They cannot understand the context of human interactions. They communicate with everyone the same way. AI bots do not have an accurate decision-making quality, and thus can learn and respond with something that they are not supposed to.

3. How can chatbots help your business?

Chatbots are more mainstream than any time in the past. Since being introduced by businesses in the early 2010’s, Chatbots have been used across domains (Travel, Retail, Hospitality, Banking, Customer support) as a way to engage customers better, be available for them 24/7, boost business productivity, and to lower operational costs.

Besides customers, chatbots are also known to help employees of a business get answers to questions at hand within the business.

The key things consumers will look from Chatbots are –

  • Quick answers to questions
  • Raise and resolve a complaint or problem
  • Guide them with better outcomes (a series of qualifying questions will help you guide customers better)
  • A unique, fun and interactive experience (instead of email or phone)
    Finding a human customer service agent, when they do not get a satisfactory response

Chatbots are also great for your business – depending on the areas you tool a Chatbot in your business, your bottom-line will swell as well through –

  • reduced manpower in customer support where the Chatbot can handle the splurge of customer questions by answering simple queries, so human agents get time for questions that need human intelligence
  • getting by having full control on what is communicated to the customer
  • generate leads (your Chatbot will capture the lead when a user visits your website)
    spend less on advertising (recommend a product, cross-sell or up-sell goods or services)

4. How should you select a chatbot for your business?

There are multitudes of chatbots available out there. When looking for a chatbot to tool for your business, these are a few pointers you should keep handy.

There are multitudes of chatbots available out there. When looking for a chatbot to tool for your business, these are a few pointers you should keep handy.

Define the problem you are looking to solve for the business using chatbots

Clear definition of the above greatly amplifies the chances of selecting a chatbot that benefits the business. What parts of my business can be automated using Chatbots? Does this application need to learn over time or can we hard code its behaviour to create value?

Evaluate each chatbot platform on the following

a. Level of Integration with many channels

Your customers are scattered across many digital platforms. The trick is knowing what platform is convenient for your target audience.

b. Chatbot Pricing

Like every other service, chatbots cost money. They can be based on

  • Subscription (monthly/yearly fee)
  • Pay per use (chatbot usage, number of API calls), or
  • Pay based on performance (chatbot to meet certain performance metrics

Based on the pricing, you need to test, if chatbots will really help you solve a problem(s) for your business.

c. Chatbot metrics

To test working of the chatbot and the business benefit it brings, certain metrics need to be made essential. Check the metrics each of these chatbots provide

d. Security features on the chatbot
Your chatbot needs to have suitable access control on the administration aspects. Also care needs to be taken that chatbots have the ability to avoid brute-force from hackers.

e. Consumers of the chatbot
You are tooling a chatbot, so that either your consumers or your employees use it. Evaluate if these consumers would be able to use the chatbot and get what they are looking for?

5. Should you be investing in chatbots for your business?

Chatbots are useful and has the potential to bring you in a lot of bottomline improvement. But as every business decision, you need to see if chatbots are worth the cost they come with. Major costs include implementation, maintenance and subscription costs of the chatbot.

As a beginner, you can start with a rule-based chatbot, and test from metrics, if chatbots help your business. If found useful, you can check if you need an AI-chatbot.

More than the hype, you need to be sure if chatbots will be able to help your business.

Conclusion

Chatbots are ‘bots’, and with careful thought they can bring great delight to its users. Users being internal or external to the business.

Yes, they are not perfect as a human (at least not yet). But we can be content in the hope that our users can still use the services of a chatbot, when they need to. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, quickly, and in a non-judgemental, non-intimidating manner.

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