Are chatbots effective? Are they useful? Do they really help businesses? If you're skeptical about using a chatbot for business, these are just a few questions you might search. Google will return all manner of answers — some positive, some negative, and some purely unhelpful.
Chatbots and other types of artificial intelligence have a bad rap in certain circles. Some rationalizations for the stigma are understandable, while others are just plain silly. Let's dive into some of the inaccurate views on chatbots and discuss why you shouldn't buy into them.
Using a chatbot will weaken the credibility of your business.
Given the emphasis on human connection in business, it's easy to see how some might think chatbots are a watered-down replacement for live customer service agents.
Some of the biggest businesses have set the bar high for customer service. But it's just not feasible for most SMBs to hire a 24/7 customer service team. Using a chatbot instead doesn't mean businesses don't care about their customers — quite the opposite.
Chatbots provide 24/7, immediate access to your business. Remember, your customers and prospects have their own busy lives (which also involve full-time jobs). Chances are they're working while your business is open. By the time they commute home, cook dinner, and run errands, your business is likely closed.
Granted, that's not the case for every customer and every business, but you get the idea. Prospects and customers have come to expect every business to be open online around the clock. Yes, even the local mom-and-pop shops.
With a chatbot, your online storefront is open 24/7, with little to no intervention on your part. Automated chat isn't just a customer service platform. It's a digital employee capable of qualifying leads, converting customers, and generating revenue around the clock.
Your customers would rather talk to humans than bots.
It's true that most customers prefer to talk to humans. That's not surprising — genuine human connection can't be automated.
But not every interaction requires the human touch. Employing multiple agents to answer basic questions about pricing and opening hours isn't worth your time or hard-earned money.
Contrary to popular belief, customers don't mind chatting with bots for customer service. Nearly 75% of customers prefer using chatbots to get instant answers to quick questions. When it comes to availability, most customers actually prefer chatbots over email, social media, and even live chat support. And 83% of customers would use messaging as their go-to for customer support if they knew they'd get an instant response.
On a more personal level, humans willingly talk to bots all the time. Remember when Cleverbot was all the rage? Some people even chat with bots for companionship.
Digital personal assistants like Siri and Alexa are slightly different than automated webchat, but they're both forms of conversational AI. Your customers already rely on conversational AI platforms to find answers to questions and handle mundane tasks. That's precisely why they don't mind interacting with a chatbot.
Chatbots don't sound human.
Chatbots won't replace humans anytime soon. (So all those customer service agents asking Google if AI will replace their job can breathe a sigh of relief.) Chatbots don't sound "human" because they're not human — they're algorithms.
Artificially intelligent chatbots use natural language processing and machine learning to replicate human language. While chatbots are learning quickly and more efficiently every day, language also continues to evolve every day.
Let's consider what it means to "sound human". The English language alone is vast and varied. First, there's standardized, grammatically correct English. How often do your customers use correct grammar in their online interactions?
Granted, they might use more formal language in webchat messages to businesses. But if we expect chatbots to "sound human", we also expect them to understand "real-world" language. The reality is, few people use correct grammar online. And it's important to remember that not everyone knows how to use standardized grammar.
Then, we need to consider typos and mistakes. A human could understand the intended meaning of the mistake. But that task is much more difficult for chatbots. This is especially true for bots that haven't learned to identify typos and determine their intent.
Let's not forget "internet lingo", which has accelerated language evolution unlike anything else. Even Wikipedia acknowledges that it's impossible to create a standardized version of internet slang because it changes every day.
As intelligent as they are, chatbots are nowhere close to a human brain. Besides, we're not even entirely sure how language develops in our own brains or how it evolved. We have some theories, but we have a long way to go before we can explain language evolution.
How can we possibly expect a relatively new technology to master human language when we don't fully understand it ourselves?
Chatbots are equivalent to artificial superintelligence.
If Hollywood is to be believed, "artificial intelligence" is a bad word that invokes anxiety-inducing visions of humanoid cyborgs taking over the world.
Artificial intelligence encompasses dozens of subfields and an even wider variety of applications. Comparing chatbots to other types of artificially intelligent machines isn't just inaccurate — it's unhelpful. (And a little silly.)
The chatbots businesses use to communicate with their customers won't one day evolve into a robotic overlord whose mission is to decimate the human race. And that's all we'll say about that.
You need technical experience to use a chatbot for your business.
Admittedly, some of the above topics are a little heavy on the philosophy, so we'll dial it back a bit.
Do you need to know the ins and outs of natural language processing and machine learning to use a chatbot? Absolutely not. (After all, that's what webchat software for business is for!)
Circling back to the idea that chatbots don't sound human, it's important to remember that humans do write some of the scripts. It's as simple as creating your own template response to common questions.
The best automated webchat software makes it easy to customize your chatbot with zero technical knowledge. ZyraTalk takes it a step further with built-in, industry-specific scripts that you can use out of the box. You also have the option to add your own questions and answers. After all, you know your customers best!
There's a lot of misinformation and stigma surrounding chatbots, but the evidence doesn't lie. Your customers prefer chatting with bots in certain situations, particularly when they're expecting instant answers. No need to fret about them not sounding "human" — what matters to your customers is how quickly they get the job done.
Keen to learn more about chatbots? Check out our list of fun facts you might not have known about chatbots.