Do Chatbots Really Work on Your Website?

Chatbots are everywhere. You see them on many websites as a fast and easy way to get answers to simple queries. But how effective are they? And do you need one on your website?

The truth is, chatbots are great for many things. They answer common customer questions, take some pressure off your help desk and can even help with lead generation. These days, chatbots are better than ever at simulating human responses. As long as your request isn’t too complicated, you might not even realize you’re not dealing with a real person.

What is a Chatbot?

The term chatbot combines chat and robots and describes software-driven robots designed to simulate human conversation. Early chatbots were text-based, but over the years they have evolved considerably to support touch and voice.

You’ll run into chatbots on instant messaging apps, websites, or on various other support channels, where they allow customers to ask questions, access help, and take care of business 24/7.

Today, chatbots are more intelligent than ever before, facilitating self-service functions and automating many internal processes throughout the enterprise. Some common iterations of chatbots we use today include Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Facebook Messenger bots.

Do You Need a Chatbot on Your Website?

Though there are more than one type of chatbot, they all have the same general purpose—to answer the user’s query as best it can. Whether you’re using them to guide site visitors through your sales funnel, providing on-demand customer service, or help you automate your daily tasks, a chatbot can save you time and money, delight customers and deliver useful data on your users and their intent.

Here are three basic types of chatbot with some use-case examples of each:

  1. Decision tree chatbots follow a pre-specified sequence based on an assumed conversational progression. You’ll define the options (queries) and assign various responses based on an “if this then that” strategy. Decision trees are easy and inexpensive to build, deploy quickly, and enable many useful possibilities.
  2. Keyword recognition chatbots take a more conversational approach than the decision-tree, in the sense that the conversation doesn’t have to be quite so linear. However, they are keyword-dependent, which dictates how they respond. Since specific keywords must be programmed into the chatbot, it may not recognize variations of the words and phrases. Or, if the questions asked are similar, the answers received might be repetitive or redundant.
  3. Contextual chatbots leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to solve more complex queries. The more conversations it has, the more the chatbot learns. However, despite its ability to think for itself (in a way), it still requires strategic planning and a high level of expertise before it can mimic human interactions.

Do You Need a Chatbot on Your Website?

You can gain a lot of value from having a chatbot on your website, but it’s always a good idea to think about what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to measure results. Chatbots tend to work best when they connect to a live chat option, so if your customer doesn’t find the information they need, they can take it to the next level.

A website chatbot can help users navigate your website, find products, make appointments, and answer frequently asked questions instantly without having to comb your site to find what they’re looking for. As chatbots improve and become more “human,” we can expect to see more of them at the heart of personalized experiences and customer loyalty programs.