As technology advances, businesses find more effective ways to engage and interact with customers. Live chat software is a telling example that improves upon email interactions and helps businesses offer instant responses to customer queries.
However, the biggest limitation of live chat platforms is that they require a substantial workforce to address all incoming customer inquiries in a timely manner. And replying to similar queries repeatedly is a low-productive task at best that can easily get frustrating for customer service executives.
Chatbot software can solve these challenges. It can serve as the bridge between providing optimal customer service and saving customer service executives' bandwidth for more discerning tasks.
In this buyers guide, we’ll look at what exactly a chatbot solution is, what are its common features, and other factors to keep in mind when buying one.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What is chatbot software?
Chatbot software is a computer program with conversational interface that allows it to hold conversations with human users via textual (and auditory in some advanced cases) methods. Typically, these programs can be set up as widgets on websites, messaging platforms, social media sites, and mobile apps.
Based on their complexity, chatbot software can be basic tools that offer responses based on pre-built scripts or more advanced solutions such as virtual assistants that perform transactions on the behalf of human users.
Chatbot builder in Landbot.io (Source)
Common features of chatbot software
Chatbot software allows users to easily create chatbots, set them up on the web or mobile apps, and derive customer insights. Let’s look at some of the common features of the tool.
||Create scripted responses and actions for the chatbot to execute during a conversation with human users. Build responses using visual elements such as cards, carousels, checkboxes, and multiple-choice answers.
||Use premade chatbot templates for different industry verticals and use cases such as lead generation, customer service, ecommerce, and HR recruitment.
||Improve the performance of the chatbot by applying machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to analyze conversations.
||Add a chat widget to your website by copying and pasting automatically generated code.
||Embed the chatbot on various social channels and messaging platforms, such as Slack or Facebook Messenger, using built-in integrations or via APIs.
||Gain business insights by viewing and analyzing reports on the average number of chats, popular conversations topics, peak hours, etc.
What type of buyer are you?
The buyer groups for chatbot software are largely based on their IT budget and business needs. Let's look at the chief concerns of these two buyer groups:
Large businesses: These buyers typically have substantial budget and in-house IT expertise, which allows them to invest in building chatbots with extensive functionalities, such as NLP capabilities. These buyers can explore chatbot development frameworks such as Facebook's Wit.ai and Microsoft Bot Framework to build their own chatbots.
Small and midsize businesses: These buyers typically lack deep in-house IT expertise and sizeable budget. As a result, they should begin with the services of cloud-based chatbot software vendors that help users create chatbots using drag-and-drop interfaces without any coding. Using cloud-based chatbot solutions that come with monthly/annual subscription fees is also a low-risk way for SMBs to explore chatbots.
Before buying chatbot software, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind.
Security concerns: The majority of chatbot solutions on the market are cloud-based instead of on-premise. As a result, data security and privacy can be a concern, especially for businesses that work in highly-regulated industries such as finance and healthcare. Moreover, with new privacy regulations such as GDPR, businesses should thoroughly investigate cloud-based chatbot vendors on their privacy and data protection measures.
Capability concerns: Chatbot solutions vary greatly when it comes to capabilities. There are basic chatbot solutions, known as scripted chatbots, that are easy to create, come at a low cost, but can only offer pre-programmed answers. On the other end are contextual chatbots with NLP capabilities, which can not only understand nuanced language but can also execute tasks on the behalf of users. However, businesses that want such capabilities in their chatbots need to have the right IT team with specialized domain knowledge.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations, obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.