What is a chatbot and should you use one on your WordPress website?
A chatbot is a computer simulation of human conversation and has now reached such a level of sophistication that often it’s hard to tell if you’re speaking to a machine or a human. Many businesses trust chatbots to manage and facilitate certain aspects of their business such as customer support and sales and they use chatbots as part of their website strategy.
In this article we will explore the rise of chatbots, the potential value of chatbots, any downsides plus popular chatbot plugins that you can use on your WordPress website.
The Rise of Chatbots
With the rise of messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and others, many customers have become increasingly used to chat interactions and in some cases, many customers prefer to use chat as a main form of communication.
Gartner forecasts that 25% of customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants and that 30% of all B2B companies will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to augment at least one of their primary sales processes by 2020.
The Value of Chatbots
So what are some of the ways that companies use chatbots to align their website strategy and business goals and how can they add value to your business? Here are just some of the reasons companies choose use chatbots for some aspect of their customer service:
- Reduce Bounce Rates: Along with great website UX and design, used correctly, chatbots have the potential to significantly boost your on-site customer engagement and keep your visitors on the website for longer. This is because when your visitor doesn’t understand something or can’t find information on your website, they are more inclined to quickly bounce rather than take time to search. A chatbot can capture attention and be used to direct the visitor to the right section of the website to find what they are looking for.
- FAQ’s: Chatbots can also be very effective for FAQ’s as many of them only require you to copy paste your FAQ list into their knowledge base. From there, when a visitor on your website asks a question, the chatbot can produce the answer from its store of answers, URL links and documents, helpfully pointing your customer in the right direction.
- Support your Sales Team: Chatbots can quickly and effectively capture customer details and then pass that on to a member of your sales team to follow up which can be a big time saver for your team. A PwC report found that 34% of business execs said that the time freed up from using digital assistants allows them to focus on deep thinking and creating.
- Always available: Chatbots work 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, they don’t eat, don’t sleep and don’t get tired and this means that they are available to serve your customers when you’re offline, or even when you’re sleeping in another time zone!
- Instant answers: Customers increasingly demand instant answers and support and a chatbot can solve this business challenge by providing an instant response.
Whilst there are plenty of great reasons to use a chatbot on your website, it’s important to consider any downsides and whether using a chatbot is right for your business and your customers.
- Limited Responses: although chatbots can be quite sophisticated there can be limitations to how much useful information they can provide to your customers. Whilst they can be programmed with vast amounts of information to answer customer queries, there’s no guarantee that they can answer every question that might be asked. If your business is complex and your solutions and products are niche then there might be restrictions on the value that a chatbot can add to your customer service.
- Chatbot cost: some simple chatbots are a relatively low investment in terms of both time and money but this means that they do tend to have restricted functionality. A more advanced and complex chatbot solution will take more time and cost more to develop so this needs to be a consideration if one of the goals of using a chatbot is to reduce costs within your business.
- Irritating your Customer: Chatbots aren’t suitable for every audience and there is a risk that a chatbot could be seen as yet another annoying pop up to those customers that don’t use and don’t value them. So knowing your customer and whether they would find a chatbot helpful is crucial when deciding if it’s right for your website or not.
Chatbots and WordPress
There are already a range of chatbot plugins available on the WordPress Plugin Directory with some of the most popular including:
- Plugin Description: “Collect.chat is the easiest way to add a chat interface on your site. You can customise the chatbot to guide the user, get their critical feedback and encourage them to spread the word out, all while the visitor is on the website.”
- Plugin Description: “IBM Watson helps you better support your customers. In a few minutes, you can train Watson to answer frequently asked questions, provide useful information and help them navigate your website. And if they want to talk to a human, the plugin can connect them to a real operator via telephone.”
- Plugin Description: “Try this plugin if you want to boost sales with your WordPress website. It uses AI to engage your website users and help you achieve the following benefits: Lead generation, conversion optimization, reduced bounce rate, more page views, longer time on site, knowing customers better, enhanced brand image.”
- Chatbots have reached a level of sophistication that can handle customer queries on your website and they have the ability to help you lower bounce rates and increase conversions.
- It is still early days but chatbots and AI more broadly is a growing market and it’s likely that as the industry matures, chatbots will be able to offer even more advanced solutions for complex businesses and we will see broader adoption of this technology.
- Embracing and trying a new technology early on can bring benefits and a chatbot can be one extra way for you to utilise technology to gain insight, data and increase business efficiency.
- As with all technology implementation, it’s important to look at the problems you’re trying to solve and whether a chatbot is the right fit for your business and your customers.
Are you considering implementing a chatbot on your website? If so, get in touch and we can help explore if this is right for your business and support you with implementation.
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