5 Important Things to Consider When Shopping for a Chatbot Solution
With chatbots growing in popularity, many businesses are searching for a chatbot that will fit their needs. Two questions that immediately arise are: 1) where to start, and 2) what to consider.
Well, I have some good news for you:
It really is! And in this post I will walk you through a few things that are really important to consider when you’re searching for a solution.
The first consideration, is perhaps the most obvious, and that is your objective, or the problem you are looking to use a bot to solve. There are a plenitude of use cases for chatbots, and the best place to start is to determine what value a chatbot can provide to your business. Whether it is lead generation, customer support, onboarding, etc. Knowing what you are looking for will help in finding the right platform with the appropriate features.
And understanding your objective has a deeper meaning than the use case. This entails several different considerations, such as how you will create KPIs to measure the success of the chatbot (e.g. less support tickets, more leads, more data on prospects, etc.). Also, who will build and manage your bot, what additional data you’ll receive and how you’ll leverage this.
You should also consider where your audience will interact with you? Are your users interacting on your website or Facebook more often? This will impact what platform you use. For example, Facebook bots placed on websites have poorer engagement rates because they require a sign-in. It’s best not to start your strategy with a bot on every channel. Start where a majority of your users engage with you and then expand your bot strategy from there.
Questions to Ponder:
1.) What problem am I looking to solve? (e.g. increase leads, reduce support tickets, etc.)
2.) How will I measure the success of the bot (e.g. How many leads do I get per month before and after the bot)
3.) Where is my audience (e.g. Facebook, Website, Telegram, etc.)
Another key concern is determining your bandwidth. While chatbots and live chat platforms are different, many who are just beginning to research the space use these terms interchangeably, thus I will include live chat in my analysis.
There are a few key distinctions between live chat and chatbots.
Live chat provides the ability to handle questions by providing access to a live agent on the other end. This is especially useful when users have complex questions but this tool comes with the price of needing someone present 24/7 to handle inquiries as they arise. Data shows that responses after 20 seconds severely drop engagement, and most inquiries administrators receive through live chat are routinely asked, lower level questions, which can be handled with a handful of responses. Additionally, the need to be available and communicate with unqualified leads is a large waste of a live agent’s time.
Conversely, chatbots are great at handling routine inquiries, and they are available to provide immediate responses to users around-the-clock. In order to handle more novel and complex questions, bots would require more intricate and detailed training and programming, i.e. incorporating natural language processing or machine learning to the bot technology.
While this isn’t the case for all platforms, there are some solutions that offer both bot and live chat functionality, basically giving you the best of both worlds.
So, what is the best option?
This really depends on your team. If you have the resources to man your live chat 24/7 days a week and this system works for you, great—stick with it! However, if your support team can’t get to every chat immediately and/or aren’t available on nights or weekends, you should consider using a bot and live chat solution. Leave no prospect uneducated, and no customer unaided.
Questions to Ponder:
1.) How large is my team?
2.) Who is going to manage the chat platform?
3.) How can this tool help the team utilize their time most effectively?
4.) How quickly can my team attend to questions as they arise in my messaging platform?
3) FUNCTIONALITY & USER FRIENDLINESS (UI & UX)
Let’s talk functionality. Quickly think back to your objectives and the needs you have, each use case will have specific and overlapping functionality requirements. No matter the use case, you want functionality that will support your objective and more.
Some key features to look for are:
1.) How are analytics displayed? Are you getting useful data?
2.) Is live chat/human takeover capability included?
3.) Are you able to launch multiple bots on your site?
4.) How easy is it to build and modify bots to increase their effectiveness and provide personalized experiences?
5.) Can you schedule straight to your calendar through the bot?
6.) Can you control how and when people see the bot?
7.) Can the bot/platform connect via API to internal platforms and 3rd party platforms? (We'll touch on this more in next section)
There is more but this is a place to get started. These are main functionalities included in a solid chatbot platform, but the most important thing for you, as a builder, is to determine: how easy is it to use?
You want to select a service that provides a friendly user experience for you, as a builder, and your site visitors, as they interact with your bot. You should feel the platform is intuitive as you go through the demo because the day will come where you will be using it on your own. Having an intuitive platform is a priceless feature of an effective chatbot service.
To make your life easier, whichever chatbot platform you select should easily connect to your current workflow. Can information be exported/imported from your chatbot to your CRM or ESP? It’s important to seek a platform that has the ability to integrate across the different 3rd party platforms you are using. As your chatbot collects data from interactions, you want to make sure that the information gathered is not siloed in one program.
Without this ability, it becomes increasingly difficult to use your chatbot effectively because you can only leverage your chatbot within itself; it does not have the power to be used in conjunction with your other systems, and automatically inform your work in the bigger picture.
Questions to Ponder:
1.) Can I integrate this with my other 3rd party platforms?
2.) How much extra work/time will it take to integrate with other services I currently use?
3.) Can I export my data to Excel?
5) ONBOARDING (SERVICE TRAINING & SUPPORT)
When it comes to training, you never want to be thrown into the deep end before learning how to swim.
The process is much easier when you (especially new bot builders) have someone to reach out to during the trial period. With additional support and training, users will be comfortable using all the functionality they desire, and confident to move forward using the platform more independently.
Some serious red flags would be if:
-there is no one to reach for support, or
-there are no check-ins or training calls during the trial period.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the people who built the product teach you instead of learning everything yourself? Even if it is an intuitive and simple platform, having resources at your disposal or people to reach out to if you are having trouble is a great way to learn and become an expert in the world of chatbots.
Questions to Ponder:
1.) “How will I be trained and setup for success?”
If you've done any research on chatbots, you know that there are plenty of options to look and choose from, but all chatbots are not created equal. Hopefully these pointers have given you a starting checklist when shopping for the right service for your needs.
If you are interested in a chatbot service that is my personal favorite (no bias at all, I just work for Instabot), look no further! You can just email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be speaking soon!