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December 12, 2019

Chatbots: Are They Right for Your Website?

If you have been shopping online in the past couple of years, you may have noticed a congenial face appear in the bottom corner of your browser.

“Welcome, how can I assist you today?”, reads the notification.

Instant customer service! Is this a real person or a clever ploy?

Sorry to burst any bubbles, but more often than not, it is a bot!

These little virtual agents are A.I. driven, much like the ever-popular Google Home or Amazon Alexa, but are geared towards your business’s services.

Assisting real humans in qualifying their leads and answering common questions, how do these Chatbots recognize language? What businesses benefit from their use? And what are the pitfalls associated with Chatbots, if there are any?

What Is a ChatBot?

A chatbot is a term given to sophisticated language processing software that automates customer service and sales assistance on a business’s website.

Chatbots, now seemingly on every major company’s website, have managed to break their way into web design/development popularity in just a few years.

Looking at Google Trends, we can see that curiosity started to peak in mid-2016. At this time, Facebook, a popular social media platform, gave developers access to automate Messenger replies.

Cutting customer service times and human resources expenses drastically, Facebook’s move ultimately spawned a worldwide surge of chatbot plugins, add-ons, and templates. All in an incredibly short period of time.

graph showing the interest in chatbots growing over the last 5 years

Interest in Chatbots over time


How Does a Chatbot Work?

Well, to say the least, it’s quite the complicated process that combines years’ worth of advancements in language processing. If we were to detail the architecture behind chatbots, this blog would go on forever.

For the sake of you readers, we’ll be providing a generalized overview of how chatbots can perform their tasks.

Utilizing stored information, a chatbot can be as simple or as complicated as the coding and data storage through which it is supported.

Being “trained” through large swaths of conversation and sales data, Chatbots breakdown language systematically to generate automated answers to common questions.

In the simplest terms, Chatbots look for patterns. Through research in Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), these A.I. helpers can even determine common spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and more, all while still providing appropriate answers.

Boons and Banes of Chatbots

Chatbots obviously offer some sort of return.

If they didn’t, large corporations wouldn’t be so willing to adopt them into their UI/UX.

The question to ask is, “Are Chatbots good for my website?”

To determine if your website would benefit from automated customer service, you should weigh the pros and cons of implementing a chatbot, and detail the ROI you would like to achieve.

The first obvious benefit of Chatbots is instant responses. A review from and Harvard Business Review found that a 10-minute wait time resulted in 400% decreased odds of qualifying a lead. Chatbots cut the wait time practically to 0.

Chatbot instant responses also add to convenience factors, such as 24-hour service, answers to simple questions, and prompt assistance when visitors become confused by your website. In the days of quick and easy solutions, Chatbots can be your best friends.

However, are we really ready for automation to take over customer service? From the same study, 43% of respondents preferred dealing with a live person. These criticisms extended to other service concerns, such as the politeness/friendliness of the chatbot and the frequency of mistakes.

Yet, while these issues are still being tackled, 15% of respondents stated that nothing would stop them from using a chatbot.

Others have even admitted using chatbots to get in touch with a human quickly. While not the intended use, I think this fact provides Chatbots efficacy when even the naysayers were able to find practical uses.

Is a Chatbot Right for Your Website?

If your business has thousands of contacts each month over the web, email, and phones, you can benefit from Chatbots.

The efficiency of their use comes down to how much data can be supplied to the A.I. Without proper context, chatbots will be nothing more than a lead generation form. Which, by itself, isn’t ineffectual, just an expensive option for a lead form.

E-commerce websites, services such as insurance, and websites full of details are great examples of profitable uses of Chatbots. This software’s feasibility can even be matched to your internal segmentation, much like Bank of America’s chatbot, “Erica”, which is only used on their mobile application.

The Future of Chatbots

Full businesses have even been created on the back of this technology. Currently, Endurance, a Russian technology company, is working on a companion chatbot for Alzheimer patients. People inflicted with this illness struggle with short-term memory loss, which often leads to frustrating conversations.

Utilizing an advanced NLP-based system, Endurance’s chatbot actively finds communication errors that signify degradation of memory functions and will deviate from short-term subjects.

It is incredible to witness how fast this technology has progressed and what it means for online shopping, customer service, and human resource expenses.

However, as language processing and Chatbots hone their accuracy, we can only imagine a world where customer service is completely automated.

What are your thoughts on Chatbots? Would you add one to your website or mobile app? Do you still prefer human interaction? Let the Geeks know!

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