Debunking the Top 3 Misconceptions About Support Chatbots

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It’s safe to say nearly everyone has now interacted with a chatbot, so much so that a new cohort of chatbot power users is on the rise. These consumers are getting more comfortable online and want instant answers and zero wait time, and they are seeking out chatbot interactions first versus emailing or calling businesses and having to wait. Still, many businesses are hesitant to add a support chatbot to their website, mobile app or social media channels. Why? Often it’s the result of outdated beliefs and assumptions about how top chatbots perform, what they can do, and how much effort is required to deploy them.

The intelligent, conversational chatbot of today is a far cry from the legacy chatbot of just a couple of years ago. The right technology, it turns out, can deliver a personalized, effortless support experience for customers every single time. Let’s take a look at three common misconceptions:

No. 1: Chatbots all use artificial intelligence and machine learning

Virtually all chatbots today claim to have AI, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP) or natural language understanding (NLU). The proof is in the pudding though, and not all chatbots deliver what they claim. Many chatbots have difficulty understanding what customers are asking or saying. Many are still reliant on extensive manual work in the form of huge question and answer sets on the back-end to work effectively. This translates into poor accuracy and upset customers, plus months of a support team’s time to manually input every answer for every possible inquiry. That’s an expensive investment for a solution that’s intended to ease customer support pain points.

Chatbots that are actually AI-powered and use machine learning only require minor training and get up and running fast. Moreover, they can quickly learn from your existing help content and your support agents’ past interactions to quickly find customers the right solution. Still better, they learn and improve over time. When you’re exploring different chatbot solutions, it’s important to understand how the chatbots work and how much intelligence is actually powering them before making a purchase. If you are going to have to monitor and update the chatbot constantly, there isn’t much machine learning and AI at work.

No. 2: Chatbots are expensive and not worth the investment

Chatbot solutions come at a wide array of price points and, in turn, deliver a range of technological capabilities. It’s important to note that when selecting a chatbot, spending a bit more up-front gets you outsized value and saves your team and customers endless frustration and headaches. Chatbots priced on the lower end often lack key functionality and intelligence and, more critically, require more engineering and team resources (and maybe even outside consultants) to bring the bots to life. The all-in costs wind up being far higher and you’re left with a lower-quality product and poorer customer experience.

Another option is building your own chatbot. How hard can it be, right? Many have traveled down this path before and wound up spending far more than if they’d gone the buying route with an established vendor. Even if you have available engineers in your company (which most of us don’t), it’s doubtful that they have extensive experience working with bots. It can take months or longer to build a functioning chatbot in house, and while working in AI and machine learning is enticing, you’ll need significant resources on a perpetual basis to get things up and running as well as to train and maintain your bot.

This leaves next-gen, AI chatbots. While a bit more expensive, they offer the best return on investment overall, hands down. Such chatbots deploy within days or weeks, delivering strong cost savings and results from the start – not to mention the payback period can be as low as a few months. The speed of implementation, low training and maintenance requirements mean you are up and running quicker, and seeing positive returns, sooner rather than later.

No. 3: Chatbots are only for large enterprises

Let’s put this myth to rest: Chatbots aren’t simply solutions for large, established enterprise companies with big support teams and even bigger budgets. The intelligent chatbots of today are perfect for every business from fledging startups to mid-sized companies, and even large enterprises. Full stop.

Next-gen chatbots help businesses of all sizes scale their support by offering customers immediate, self-serviceable solutions that don’t require a phone call, email or interaction with a live agent. In fact, if you are experiencing growth, are projecting it or operate in an industry that sees big seasonal shifts in customer support, intelligent chatbots can help you provide great experiences time and again.

Realizing you need a chatbot is one thing, but finding the best one for you? That’s a whole other ballgame. Remember that chatbots have evolved quite a bit over the years, and can be accessible to businesses of all sizes. It’s time to revisit assumptions you may have of yesterday’s chatbots and give today’s next-gen chatbots a second look.

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