Chatbots, some love them and others hate them but are they good for business? Essentially a chatbot is an automated interacting system that converses with people on your behalf using pre-programmed responses that can vary in complexity. From one-word answers or re-direction to full responses and interaction or even email bots, they can be an asset to your business, but they can also be a hindrance. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of chatbots.
The Pros of Chatbots
Probably the biggest benefit is that chatbots are available 24/7. This means that you are always providing service and dealing with users, even outside of business hours. This extra availability provides excellent customer service that is often remembered and makes users more likely to recommend you.
Chatbots can negate the need for some job roles and allow the reduction of some staff. They may even reduce training time as you no longer need a team to do the same job of the chatbot.
High Volume of Requests
If your business gets a lot of questions or deals with a high volume of users on a daily basis, chatbots allow you to keep up as well as quickly deal with increases in certain times of the year (rather than the need to hire extra additional staff).
Chatbots are connected to your database and have all the information needed, as well as the ability to recall and sort through it quicker than a human. This also means more requests may be handled per hour as well!
Due to the large amounts of information and the processing capabilities, chatbots can record data, trends, and metrics so you can monitor interactions and adjust your processes and responses accordingly. You can get real time information on what your users are asking for or needing as well as easily see problems in any unclear areas in the process.
Chatbots are available on a variety of different platforms making them adaptable to your business and easy to integrate. You can also develop specific integration for your website, application, or service.
Using chatbots, particularly those with excellent Artificial Intelligence interfaces show your business can use technology and keeping up with trends. This can come across that you are more forward thinking and make you more desirable to customers, partners, and sponsors.
The Cons of Chatbots
Chatbots are programmed for certain responses and aim to find what the user wants, (even if they don’t know themselves); but they can’t do beyond what they’ve been programmed for. They can’t attend questions which weren’t taught, deal with outlying situations or the anomalies that can stump even a human and this can be frustrating for the user.
If you are trying to automate a lengthy or confusing process it takes more time and development as well as more maintenance. This can actually cost more than a well-trained human in the short-term, especially if you don’t need to support a high number of users. Always check whether it’s more cost-effective to use a human team than an AI one.
Loss of Service
If something breaks or your interface goes offline, you have no backup to deal with users until you get it back up and running. Any humans behind the chatbots would be working in overdrive dealing with requests, and any issues that arise could be costly so always ensure you have a back-up in place.
The more processes and set responses you need, the longer it takes to develop and begin which can hinder your plans and be costly while you wait. It can also cause a longer settling period while you decide to change responses or find everything your users need.
Some users prefer to talk to a real person, particularly the older generation who may not know exactly how to interact with a chatbot. This means that some users will get annoyed, even if the chatbot is doing its job! So always check your demographic and perhaps do some research before implementing one.
They can’t detect emotions, tone or other human notions that are put forward in a message and this can sometimes confuse them into what they think the user wants, for example if a user is being sarcastic it can be easily misconstrued.
Ultimately there are many reasons for and against chatbots. They can help you streamline your processes, provide round-the-clock service and save on staff training and costs. However, misunderstandings or mistakes could be costly for your brand image as well as your wallet so bare this in mind!