Chatbots themselves are not new, however, today they are no longer considered a prerogative of big companies and have overgrown irritating pop-ups in a website’s corner.
Why did the chatbots gain so much popularity?
Let’s start with definitions. To put it simple, chatbot is an automated computer program that mimics human interaction to respond to customer queries based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Normally, it is a tool for FAQ which gains its practical weight as far as more questions and answers are added.
Over the last few years, there was much controversial buzz around chatbots in technical and marketing community, with famous companies like Telegram or Facebook announcing chatbot integration into their messengers, or Twitter bot, notorious for its sexist and racist tweets machine-learned from other users. It is assumed that AI popularity wave brought chatbots to the top trends, however, the reason also lies under modern audience behavior patterns:
- people now prefer texting over talking;
- people choose mobile messengers to connect with their favourite brand;
- people want their questions to be answered immediately.
With this in mind, it becomes obvious that this AI-powered technology is a future of daily customer operations, sales, and marketing. But even after chatbots have become one of the most-hyped innovation of 2016, small and medium companies do not hasten to become adopters of this technology, allowing for high-end companies to take this advantage.
Do you indeed need custom-built chatbot?
Well, if you’re starting out with bot usage, some apps and tools don’t require programming knowledge to implement them. Let’s take Rebot.me or Chatfuel – very simple and intuitive platforms available for non-developers to try their hand in working with chatbots. However, really effective bots have to be customized deep enough to mimic artificial intelligence – and that’s where AI coding comes into play. Here are three main questions to decide whether you need you chatbot custom or standard:
- What do your chatbots need to have?
Bots built on platforms have the most obvious disadvantage which is limitation to the features you may need. Tailor-made bots, in their turn, can be customized in several ways:
- Conversation flow. Fine-tune the flow according to your business logic, prepare unsupported conversational patterns or suggestions for indecisive visitors.
- Age-, gender-, or region-responsive UX. Vary the experience based on the perceived characteristics.
- Custom buttons. Add visualized options for some information request, or date/time scrollers for standartization.
What is more, custom chatbot allows you to eliminate inconsistencies between platforms where you’re going to roll them out – for example, Telegram bot automatically sends location info about the user, while Facebook not, so you need to align the work of chatbots on different clients
The technology still doesn’t allow to create a bot that is intelligent, funny and know-all at the same time, so limit your chatbot requirements to the functionality it can process effectively.
2. How much money are you ready to spend?
The most painful part of custom development is cost. Qualified developers, scale of the projects, integration, custom NLP or AI – each of these parameters will affect your pricing from the very beginning. Remember to include all the changes that follow. Every new change to your website pages, every new question or behavioral pattern of your customer may lead to additional cost for alterations.
3. Does your chatbot need to be integrated with 3rd parties?
If you need to stitch some external components into your chatbot, it’s obviously more reasonable to have it custom. Think over online store integration, payment systems, analytical data – they may require an API unavailable for standard platforms.
What is the use of chatbots for your business?
- Sales. To have your customer support online 24/7.
- Payments. To facilitate usage of complex payments forms and present it in interactional way.
- Personalized marketing. To affect personal choices and ask customers what they need to empower customer journey.
- Leads qualification. To build a script selling to your target audience and not to waste you time for those who doesn’t need it.
That being said, you can see that chatbots may empower your small business with a new way to build up relationships with your clients and partners and position your company as a technology innovator. Ubisend states 35% of consumers hope to see more companies employing chatbots in the near future. At the same time, don’t underestimate the exceptional business and marketing analysis skills, financial investment and continuous maintenance required to provide.