Written by Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Table of contents
- 1 What is a chatbot?
- 2 Pros of chatbots
- 3 Cons of chatbots
Over the last few years we’ve all noticed how use of AI chatbots on websites has notably increased, particularly on the ecommerce ones. Many of you probably wonder:
- What are they?
- Where did they come from?
- What is their purpose?
- Do we want to use them?
- Are they an effective customer service channel?
What is a chatbot?
Chatbots are computer programs, the purpose of which is to provide automatic but personalised customer service. They contribute to the improvement of user experience, given that, as opposed to traditional customer service methods –which obviously have limited working hours for the most part– chatbots are always available, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, without there being a need for a person to be on the other side of the line. They are there to solve any issue they’re asked. Some of the better known chatbots we use on a daily basis are Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa… Additionally, besides websites, we can find them on messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Telegram or Slack, where they are readily available to manage the customer’s requests through said social channels.
We would also like to mention some very well-designed chatbots of the well-known language training app, like Duolingo; Pizza Hut’s chatbot, which can be found on the brand’s Facebook and Twitter profiles; or Skyscanner’s chatbot, which is always there to help you find the best flight deals. Another interesting chatbot is Surveybot, which allows us to poll users who follow us on Facebook, through the Messenger app.
The primary use of a chatbot is to maintain a perfectly natural conversation with the user, who might request information regarding something, request a specific action, ask a question, etc. We frequently see them integrated on a website, although not always. For this article, however we are going to focus on the type of chatbots, which are indeed integrated within the website’s flow, as we want to see the advantages and disadvantages of having a chatbot in an ecommerce shop, where we want to provide the best possible customer service experience.Chatbots 🤖💬are always available to solve any issue they're requested, 24/7, without the need for a person to be on the other end.Click To Tweet
Pros of chatbots
Full availability, 24/7
As we’ve already mentioned earlier, chatbots don’t have a work schedule, and are available during any time of day to help, manage things and solve questions posed by your customers. Albeit they may not be as effective as a real customer service operator, a properly programmed chatbot can solve many simple queries successfully, without a real person’s intervention.A properly programmed chatbot 🤖💬can solve many simple queries successfully, without a real person's intervention.Click To Tweet
With a chatbot you can filter the most common, repetitive and/or simple questions, as the computer program will take care of solving them without having to resort to your customer service staff. This way, you will lighten your staff’s work load, giving them more time to solve more complex issues in a much more efficient manner. This will contribute to making the response times much quicker, and a much more agile user experience.
Here’s a few examples of tasks a chatbot can manage for you: order status requests, frequently asked questions, information requests about products…A chatbot 🤖💬 can lighten the work load for your customer service department, allowing them to be quicker and more efficient with more important help requests.Click To Tweet
Chatbots do not need to “think”. They provide a fast response to any question they are asked, and they are capable of dealing with several requests at the same time.
Thanks to machine learning, chatbots are capable of providing a personalised experience to your users, learning with and about them. They adapt to their preferences and needs easily, making tailor-made suggestions to each user and each request for help or information.
Besides helping us to be more proactive and resourceful in our service, chatbots can transmit a positive brand image, in terms of customer service, as well as for using state-of-the-art technologies, in our feat to provide the best possible service to our clients.
Cons of chatbots
We’re probably not going to be able to afford a chatbot as powerful as Google Assistant or Siri. We don’t need to, though! But if the chatbot’s features are very limited, it’s not going to contribute much to the overall user experience or improving our customer service.
Not all businesses can benefit from a chatbot
Chatbots can be quite useful for an online shop or specific types of services, which are more direct. To give you an example: calling a taxi, ordering food delivery, amongst others.
Nevertheless, there will be ecommerce websites where a chatbot is pointless, and forcing its implementation can be even counterproductive, and instead of being helpful, it will simply annoy the user who is trying to browse the website, resulting in a negative experience. In these cases, it’s better to simply have a personalised customer service with a fixed working schedule, without other intermediaries.
They can be intrusive
Depending on the way it’s implemented, a pop-up chatbot window appearing each time you enter a website asking if you need something can become annoying and intrusive, in the same way as walking into a store and immediately being asked by a shop assistant whether they can help you with something. It’s good to make our chatbot visible, but in a more discreet place, so that users known it’s there if they need help, and they can click on it and open a conversation window with the chatbot.
Let’s remember Clippy, the funny assistant from Office 97-2003 (RIP ⚰). This animated character belonging to the Microsoft suite sure was a lot of things, but useful was not one of them. No one wants their chatbot to be compared to Clippy, resulting in a high bounce rate and poor traffic results. Or, in more extreme cases, reputation issues.
Chatbots can make mistakes
Because technology is in continuous development, and a chatbot can be very powerful and well-programmed, sometimes the app can just miss what the user needs from it, and respond with something entirely different to what is being requested of it.
Not everyone knows how to or wants to speak to a chatbot
It’s likely a chatbot may be well-received by a younger audience, who are more used to interacting with artificial intelligence apps, and in general, is more naturally inclined towards the use of technology and Internet browsing.
We shouldn’t forget about our elders, though, who didn’t grow up in the same technologically advanced world, or people who simply aren’t great at getting along with computers or any piece of tech for that matter. That doesn’t make them less valuable as customers.
In the end, it’s all about getting to know and analysing well our target audience and our prospective customers, to determine whether investing in a chatbot is a good idea. We need to ponder whether users visiting our website are going to (want or know how to) use the chatbot to their advantage and make the most of its potential.We must consider chatbots as what they are: an addition to improving user experience on our website.Click To Tweet