As predicted by many in 2016, chat bots are staring to become more and more popular on both social media and as a feature on websites. It all comes down to ease of use. Consumers want the convenience of being able to get the help they need from the comfort of their own home with the same level responsiveness and help they would receive from a customer service rep, a real person over the phone. If you’re panicking and wondering if your behind on technology – don’t worry, you’re not the only one! We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about chat bots below.

What Is a chat bot?
Okay, let’s start with the basics. A chat bot is incorporated into a website or social media platform to allow users to send and receive messages with a business in real time without having an actual representative on the receiving-end responding to those messages. The chat bot is often a combination of artificial intelligence and pre-programming which allows the system to answer questions and respond to users much like a voice automated system you might here when you call a customer service line.

Do you need them?
Well you don’t need a chat bot. However, if you want to offer your customers with additional ways to get the help they need then this might be an option for you. We recommend chat bots to be used for any business that is frequently asked many of the same questions and have a simple business model

If you are a software developer your questions and answers would be complicated so this may not be the route for you but if you own a flower business you can expect the scope of questions a potential customer would ask and predict the problems they might be facing.

We should point out that if your business is already lacking on the customer service side of things, a poorly functioning chat bot might add fuel to the fire an make a bad customer experience a horrible one. Chat bots are only useful when their operating properly otherwise they are just adding to the problem by becoming an additional source of poor customer service.

Are they costly?
This is a timely and costly investment if you’d like it done right. As we mentioned earlier, chat bots are only beneficial if they are helpful and working properly. In order to make sure they are working they way they are intended to work, a lot of testing is required. Testing is quite timely and that’s where costs may start to pile up. Keep this in mind during the decision making process. 

How do I get started?
Talk to your in-house developer to get things started. As you have probably figured out by now implementing this idea may take some time. If you are not familiar with the development side of things, we recommend hiring an agency to manage this process for you, to make it easier to manage your budget and communicate your ideas to the developer.