Recently, headlines have been full of discussions about chatbots or chatterbots, although they have been around since the 1960s. Chatbots provide as close an experience as possible to a human using software and are useful for top companies like Microsoft and Facebook. Siri and Cortana are two examples of the bots. But, are chatbots good or bad?
For small businesses, chatbots provide a way to improve on customer service. They enable customers to interact with the brand through conversations using artificial intelligence much the same way these people would with human customer service reps.
For a business, this feature enables them then to use skilled personnel for other duties than customer service and save costs in the long run. When written correctly, the chatbot software is not a clunky robot but can be much like a human customer service agent.
Also, the chatbots appeal to millennials, who typically prefer self-service. A recent study found that three out of four consumers prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own. Chatbots combine the appeal of self-service with the texting or messaging features that many people today prefer over calling businesses.
There are also limitations to chatbots. For example, the software may require a larger bandwidth than your company has currently, and so an upgrade may be necessary, which involves time and money.
Another limitation concerns the range of quality of the chatbots. Some chatbots are better than others. The bots may have difficulties answering abstract or difficult questions, as well as being unable to maintain long conversations. Humor and sarcasm do not typically register with chatbots either.
At present, there is still a lot of learning to be done on chatbots and businesses are working on building up the technical capabilities of the bots. The bots are likely to become more versatile and better functioning in the future and, at that point, your small business will likely find incorporating a chatbot to be worthwhile in the long run.
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