What are Chatbots, and Are They Useful?

Back when I worked at a call center, people used to think the chat function on the client’s website was automated when, in reality, it was a person on the other side of the computer. This idea seemed odd since I knew we were real people, but after visiting website after website with the “Chat With Us” button in the bottom right corner, I started to understand why so many people asked us. Those buttons are everywhere, and most of the interactions you have when clicking the buttons are with chatbots.

What are Chatbots?

A chatbot is an artificial intelligence (AI) software that can simulate a conversation (or a chat) with a user in natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile apps or the telephone. They are often described as one of the most advanced and promising expressions of interaction between humans and machines, but really, they only represent the natural evolution of a Question Answering System.

How Do Chatbots Work?

At the core of every chatbot, there are two different tasks: user request analysis and returning the response. They first analyze the user’s request to identify the user intent and to extract relevant keywords. If you type “I want to cancel my account,” they will pull the word “cancel” to help you move forward. 

The second task is to respond after the user’s intent has been identified. You may get a generic and predefined text, a question to help better identify your intent, text retrieved from a knowledge base that contains different answers or something else. 

What Are the Benefits of Chatbots?

We are in a world of instant gratification. Just earlier today, I was on hold with a popular Internet provider for over 35 minutes while trying to cancel my account. If that company had utilized a chatbot on their website to handle the simple task, I would have a much better feeling towards that company, which is very different from the boiling hatred I now have knowing I wasted half my lunch break trying to complete one very simple task.

Aside from a better customer experience, you can also increase your website conversion rates and generate more qualified leads. Let’s say you sell insurance to farmers. If that farmer took time from their very busy day to go to your website for research, they probably won’t have time to then get on the phone right away. Having a chatbot on your site who can answer simple questions for them or even gather contact or appointment info for a later call could be a determining factor on whether that farmer goes with your firm. 

Having a chatbot can also save you time and money. By automating conversations that would otherwise require an employee to answer, organizations can use that person elsewhere. The amount of time you save actually increases as the amount of inbound messages increase. Who wouldn’t want to save more time and money while still doing the same amount of work?

Chatbots can also serve as after-hours help. It drives my husband nuts when I email or message different companies in the middle of the night. I don’t want to forget my question, but I also don’t expect an answer until that business is open the next day. I have realistic expectations because of the industry I’m in, but that’s not the case for a lot of people out there. People on average expect to wait 0-4 hours for a response, but in reality, it takes a brand roughly 10 hours to respond. A chatbot on your website could answer basic questions or gather next-day contact information, giving instant gratification to the customer when you’re not even working. 


How Do I Get a Chatbot?

Contact our dedicated web design team at Rooted Web to learn how this tool can help your company. We would love to see your company thriving!

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Samantha Prost

Samantha Prost is a digital content writer with five years of experience who uses her upbeat and creative energy to write fresh, fun and custom content for our clients.

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