Bitesize Buzzword - Chatbot Vs Live WebChat - Ben M Roberts

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This week’s Bitesize Buzzword/Buzzterm is: Chatbot Vs Live WebChat

Welcome back to ‘The Marketing Buzzword Podcast’ by Ben M Roberts. In this Bitesize Buzzword episode of the podcast, Ben helps to debunk and demystify the differences in the terms Chatbot and Live WebChat

In this episode Ben will answer the questions like; Why should a business choose one or the other? What are the benefits and drawbacks? What errors do companies make with chatbots and webchats?

The transcript is below . . .

What is a Chatbot, and what is a Live WebChat?

There are two forms. You can either have a set decision tree version or you can have a learning chatbot. Both of which aren’t live. They are algorithms, and have machines working behind the scenes to offer up ideas, suggestions or set pathways. Both are also automated and have limited conversational abilities.

A Decision Tree style of chatbot is generally ‘bot led’. i.e. you open a chat, and it already has some pre-selected options which take you down different route. It’s very regimented and your decisions define where the chat goes next. Or you have a learning chatbot where you as a user drives to conversation and chooses where it goes and the chatbot has to adapt to you.

These are two very different distinctive types of chatbot. It’s really important you clarify what type you are looking at. Although they have some limited conversational abilities art present, they will get better. FB for example is doing some amazing things with chatbots. FB can stand alone and integrate with existing websites. Powerful Stuff.

On the other side of the coin, you have Live Webchats. These are essentially human powered. They allow for real-time conversations and you have the opportunity to progress chats within the same medium. This is a great advantage of Live Webchats over chatbots currently, as when they can’t answer you. You often get send off to other communication mediums instead of staying in the communication medium you have chosen. Through certain companies you can actually escalate up chats to calls within the same window. Amazingly powerful. You can also integrate a lot of these Webchats with platforms with FGB and stuff so you are able to provide incredible customer service across numerous channels.

Which do you choose and which is most relevant?

Chatbots are amazing in my opinion for simple questions and things like FAQS. Situations where a customer wants a quick action. They want to be in and out and make a transaction quickly. It’s like a modern way of bringing relevant FAQs to the top as the old way had them buried in a website and they were hard to find. This is basically what decision tree chatbots basically do.

With Facebook, you can actually set up automated campaigns which are fast becoming the new email, and some of the conversion rates mooted are incredible. The problem maybe is that chatbots here are very transactional base and they aren’t trying to have a conversation or build a relationship. They don’t necessarily understand all of the customers need. They don’t delve deeper to try and fix the issue, they only understand the initial question and give an answer to that.

Again, this is a difference between the user lead and decisions tree bots. The learning chatbots are able to help more, and have more options. But, that’s part of the problem. Humans a flawed. We ask questions in so many different ways. The same actually questions can be asked in 10-20 different ways. Just look at some of the stats that Google puts out there regarding the number of unique questions that are asked of its Search Engine every single day. It’s amazing. However, spelling mistakes by users can make it really difficult for these learning chatbots to assign the right intent or response. Also, if you ask one of these chatbots multiple questions, you can really mess it up and I’ve seen some brilliant chatbot mishaps with that.

With Live Webchats, you have a different context of use. Webchats are much better for high value, high risk or more complex products. Things where you want to build trust or a relationship, or rapport with the person, or brand you are looking to buy from. It’s all human and relationship based. Especially important on a B2B level, or even on big B2C goods, where you could be purchasing large white goods like household appliances. You want to know you are getting all of the right information, filling a form correctly or just want to be able to trust that the company knows what they are doing. That’s a great benefit. If your customers just want to have small transactional conversations with you then live probably isn’t the way to go.

What are some of the common errors with chatbots and live Webchats?

One of the common errors seen with Live Webchats is the lack of training. The way in which people have conversations on these channels is very different to how people use chat as a consumer for everyday use. You have the be aware of this issue.

Also, a common mistake is not having enough of, or the right type of agents who can help deal with queries. In a lot of Webchat products, users can be passed to different agents to make sure that they are speaking to the right person in the right department in order to be able to effectively solve their needs. It’s also difficult because a chatbot it can often triage and send people straight the right person without having to be transferred through a number of different agents. If a company does not have the right processes or agents in place it can really harm your customer service, because you will be making you customers wait in queues for a long time. Not good. It is also reasonably easy to sort if you put the time and thought in.

Another error commonly seen is not having contingencies in place for out-of-office. If you are using live chant and you don’t have workers that are in 24 hours a day, you need to have an out-of0office in place or something to turn off the chat option between certain hours.

From a chatbot point-of-view. Is a chatbot too simplistic? Are you using the right type of chatbot? Put your customers front and centre and think what do they want, and how do they want to speak to your business. DO they want an FAQ style conversation where they are getting quick and simple answers? Also, if you don’t understand how your customers are using your website because one with chatbots its easy enough to set them up and let them go, but it’s not always monitored to understand how your customers are coming to use the bot, which pages are they coming from? Are there any common traits or questions arising from any pages in particular? You have to think about the analytics side of things, not just setting them up and letting them run.

Then if you are going down the messenger route on Facebook. Make sur you aren’t being spammy and sending what is basically regular emails that do not add value to your customers. It’s like how al the spammers used to use Direct Mail, then moved over the Email, and now you could see then moving over to chatbots?? Just be careful, and don’t spam. You do not want to see that decline in open and clock through rates from your lucrative messengers’ channels. Remember to put your customers at the heart of what you do!

Finally, don’t try and make your chatbot seem overly human. I’ve seen this attempted so many times and fails. It’s not a human, Don’t try too hard, where if it suddenly gets a question it doesn’t know the answer too it just starts pouting out nonsense.  A chatbot doesn’t have to sound overly human as long as it’s adding the value that your customers are looking for. That come from good research.

How do you actually implement?

Facebook is an amazing place for chatbots, and tools like Manychat and Chatfuel are really popular. Also if you want a web based chatbot, tools like Drift are great. These are really cool told with lots of features and functionality. Make sure that you are building in time for monitoring, analytics. Also take your time to research and build great flows for your decision tree chatbot. Make sure the value is in there as quick as possible.

In addition, make sure that you, where possible are providing all the value within the chatbot and not sending people off to other mediums to get the information. You want to make it as easy as possible. They have come to that medium to get the answer in that medium, do not send them off on a wild Goose chased to get the answer they need.

As well, chatbots are becoming better. They are able to do more and more. They are amazing for small businesses, SME’s and smaller ecommerce shops. When you haven’t got the time or resources to man a live chat then a chatbot is an incredible. Use them as a triage tool to get the data and call the customer back later. That is a text-book use-case., especially if you are a small business.

On the other side of things, people don’t always realise how easily a Live Webchat can be implemented. Some tools will do it with as little as a few lines of code into the website. The time comes from the agent training side of things. In addition, with many of these tools you can have canned and pre-planned messages to help speed up response times and make sure that the context of the message is accurate. Therefore, if you are being asked similar questions, or you work in a regulated industry like financial services (where the FCA are very hot on this sort of thing) and need to have pre-made messages to make sure compliance issues are mitigated.

Maybe even consider both together. They don’t have to be separate. It’s not automated power Vs people power. use a chatbot to triage, then a live Webchat to take the relationships to another level. Think about your customers not yourself. That’s what I’m going to leave you with . . . make sure you are giving the value that they are looking for.