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How to Choose the Right Chatbot for Your Business

Scott Snowden
Scott Snowden
Business & Technology Strategy
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If your sales or customer service teams repeatedly answer the same straightforward questions over the phone, a chatbot could be a viable solution to saving you both time and money.

Chatbots are one of the most common forms of AI that allow your website visitors to have an interaction with your company in a natural, conversational manner. These tools provide accessible customer support without having to pick up the phone. In other words, you can automate conversations that would normally require an employee to answer. Simple questions like “When do you close today?” to more complex inquiries about order status can be handled by a chatbot.

It’s important to note that not all chatbots have equal capabilities. There are a few levels of sophistication to consider depending on what you what your chatbot to achieve. We’ve broken them down to help guide you in the right direction.

1. Live Agents

Technically, a live agent chat is not a chatbot at all because there is no automation involved. A live agent chat tab simply appears on your website when a human operator is available to start chatting with your website visitors. The answers delivered to visitors are based on the responses that the human agent types into the conversation.

Although a live agent is the cheapest technical solution, it still requires a human resource to power the chat. Software to enable these conversations can keep track of questions so that you can streamline your answers over time.

2. Simple Chatbots / Hybrid

Think of this solution as an automated way to answer your Frequently Asked Questions. In fact, that is how a lot of simple chatbots are built.

These chatbots respond to questions using predetermined information and keywords within their internal knowledge bases. If a visitor’s question does not contain any keywords, the chatbot cannot understand it and will offer a response such as “sorry, I did not understand your question”.

Hybrid chatbots also allow human operators to take over when the automated attempt is unsuccessful. More sophisticated solutions can actually learn from conversations and record responses when human operators intervene. This allows the chatbot to provide an automated answer when a similar question is asked in the future.

3. Smart Chatbots / Automated

A smart chatbot is one that uses artificial intelligence such as IBM Watson, Microsoft Cognitive Services or Progress Kinvey. Instead of pulling from a list of predetermined answers, the chatbot has a more complex learning algorithm that pulls information from your website, past chat transcripts, other databases in your organization and any other information you choose to include.

Smart chatbots can also connect with translation services to allow you to talk to your audience in their native language, even when your content is published in English. Because of their sophistication, these solutions require custom development and a well-organized implementation plan. The end result is a powerful tool that is perfectly branded and suited to your business situation.

Getting Started

Once you have determined which chatbot will work best for you, it's vital to put in the right effort to build your initial knowledge base for the system. We suggest meeting with your sales, marketing, and customer service teams to create a list of the questions they receive on a regular basis. Next, pair each question with a strong, concise answer. Since your customer will be speaking to an automated tool, you will also need to consider any follow-up questions that could be asked and how the chatbot will approach them. You can always iterate, the strength of the chatbot will grow as you continue to capture more questions and answers. Small to large organizations can all benefit from well-built chatbots that have been sized to match their needs.

Most importantly, remember that the chatbot may be the first interaction a website visitor or customer has with your business. To prevent technical issues, ensure that these solutions are working efficiently and test them with staff members before launching to live customers. 

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