How to choose a chatbot
Chatbot  -  Oct 18, 2021

With chatbots growing in popularity, many businesses are searching for a chatbot that will fit their needs. 

The main considerations for choosing the best chatbot can be broken down into two broad categories:

  • Objectives. What objectives are you trying to meet by using a chatbot? What problems will a chatbot be solving?
  • Execution. Based on these objectives, what features do you need? And what resources do you need to account for to put things into place?

Under these two categories come a number of questions and potential points of confusion – all of which we'll be answering in this piece. 

1. Objectives – what business needs are you trying to meet with a chatbot?

The first consideration is your objective, or the problem you are looking to solve with the right choice of chatbot solution. 

Within this consideration come questions like:

  • What problem am I looking to solve? (For example, increase leads, streamline customer support, etc.)
  • How will I measure the success of the bot? (For example, how many leads should I get per month before and after the bot?)
  • Where is my audience? (For example, Facebook Messenger, website, Telegram, WhatsApp, in-app messaging, Slack, etc.)

Asking these kinds of questions is the way to narrow down initial choices and start your research and buying process in the right place.

Using chatbot use cases to determine your objective

Use cases are an effective tool for determining what value a chatbot can provide to your business. There are many specific use cases for chatbots, but these can again be broken down into two broad categories:

  • Lead generation. Using chatbots for conversational marketing and getting more people to convert (almost always in the context of your website).
  • Customer support. Streamlining a customer support process by reducing the need for human agents.

There are a lot more specific use cases, but all of them will come under these two categories. Chatbots will either be used as part of a marketing strategy or as a way to offer customer support (with some crossover, for example with customer experience being an essential part of winning leads, as well as customer retention).

These two general use cases can be used as an entry point before you and your team go into further detail.

Chatbot objectives for lead generation

Going into more detail here will involve understanding your current lead generation strategy, and where you want it to go.

For example:

  • Do you have a content strategy in place?

Is marketing running an on-site content strategy that you can expand to include using conversational chatbots to engage users? If you are, your options will be much wider when it comes to implementation. If not, this may become something to analyze alongside using a chatbot, but for now your chatbot usage will be fairly basic.

  • How are on-site leads currently qualified?

At this stage you should speak to sales and marketing to clarify how exactly on-site leads are qualified, and what kinds of leads you want to capture via a chatbot. This will help you decide what tracking and analytics features you will need from your chosen solution.

  • How does a chatbot fit into your overall marketing strategy?

If you have ambitious targets that you want to meet and see a chatbot as being instrumental in meeting them, you will have to invest a lot more into the execution of your chatbot and conversational marketing strategy. You'll also need insights from other teams in order to make sure all of your efforts are aligned and that the success of your chatbot can be accurately measured.

Chatbot objectives for customer support

If your chatbot is going to be primarily used for customer support – for example, you run an ecommerce business and want to automate the customer enquiry process – you will have different kinds of questions when thinking about your objectives in more detail.

For example:

  • What does my typical customer journey look like?

Identifying the points at which your customers typically ask for support will help you think clearly about what you need your chatbot to do. If you want to offer checkout support, then you'll need an option that integrates with your ecommerce platform, and if customer support is needed during onboarding of your software solution, you’ll be looking to integrate it with your CRM and other analytics platforms.

  • How many requests are we expecting to manage?

Given your current customer support process, how many requests per day are you expecting to handle? If the number is considerable, thinking about automation and more complex features like NLP (natural language processing) and AI (artificial intelligence) will become necessary – the more complicated your usual support requests, the more these kinds of features are likely to be important.

  • How does customer support play into our marketing strategies?

Improving customer experience is a way all businesses can grow. Deciding the role of customer support in achieving targets like customer retention will help you decide the scale of your chatbot solution and whether you want to include features like customer satisfaction surveys and feedback analysis.

Measuring the success of your chatbot

How to track and analyze results from your chatbot is an essential part of the research process.

In order to track for lead generation, you will have to be able to effectively integrate with your existing CRM platform. Most chatbot solutions will have a variety of CRM integrations, while others might need a custom integration before they work.

Utilizing feedback or survey platforms is a good way to measure the impact of changes to your customer support systems. This can be done within your chatbot platform itself, or via reviews platforms like Trustpilot or Reviews.io.

Measuring customer sentiment with these tools can be used alongside measuring the impact on your business in terms of repeat sales and customer retention to determine the effectiveness of your customer support chatbot.

2. Execution – what will the right chatbot platform look like once it's in place?

Once you've clarified the objectives for your chatbot, it's time to think about execution. Questions that will come up as you think about execution should include:

  • How much can my team currently take on?
  • Who is going to manage the chat platform?
  • How can this tool help the team utilize their time most effectively?
  • How quickly can my team attend to questions as they arise in my messaging platform?

An essential concern here is bandwidth. This refers to the resources you will need to have available to implement and manage your chatbot.

Chatbots vs live chat 

One question that comes up frequently when thinking about what resources are needed to maintain a chatbot is what are the differences between live chat and chatbot functionality?

While chatbots and live chat platforms are different, many who are just beginning to research the space use these terms interchangeably – however there are a few key distinctions between live chat and chatbots.

Live chat provides the ability to handle questions via real-time access to a live agent. This is especially useful when users have complex questions, but this tool comes with the price of needing someone present 24/7 to handle inquiries as they arise. Additionally, the need to be available and communicate with unqualified leads can be a large waste of a live agent’s time.

Conversely, chatbots are great at handling routine inquiries, and are available to provide immediate responses to users around-the-clock. In order to handle more novel and complex questions, bots would require more intricate and detailed training and programming, that is, incorporating NLP or machine learning to the bot technology.

In this situation it's best to think of chatbots as a way of reducing the bandwidth needed for live chat. The ability to automate simple requests and answers FAQs is one of the most important benefits of using chatbots for lead nurturing and customer support.

Which team or individual should manage a chatbot?  

This relates back to objectives – is it lead generation or customer support that you're looking to impact?

Sales and marketing teams are usually best placed to create and manage a lead generation chatbot, as they will know what questions and pain points your chatbot should address, as well as what kinds of content you'll be sharing in order to engage and convert users.

If you have a dedicated customer support team, they will be in charge of overseeing functionality as well as dealing with the requests that chatbots won't be able to help with. 

Understanding their needs will be essential as you decide which platform offers the best combination of features to save time and provide measurable results.

What functionality will I need from a chatbot?

When it comes to execution, you'll need to think about functionality and the features needed by your team.

Here are some key features and types of chatbot to look out for:

  • How are analytics displayed? Will you be getting data you need?
  • Is live chat/human takeover capability included?
  • Are you able to launch multiple bots on your site?
  • How easy is it to build and modify bots to increase their effectiveness and provide personalized experiences?
  • Can you schedule meetings straight to your calendar through the bot?
  • Will I need an AI chatbot to understand user intent for my user requests?
  • Can you control how and when people see the bot?
  • Can the bot/platform connect via API to internal platforms and 3rd party platforms?

Alongside these kinds of features, you'll want to select a service that provides a friendly user interface for you as a builder and a comfortable user experience for your customers. Having an intuitive platform is an essential part of any successful custom chatbot experience.

Considering chatbot integrations

Whichever chatbot platform you select should easily connect to your current workflow. 

Can information be exported/imported from your chatbot to your CRM or sales platform? As your chatbot collects data from interactions, you want to make sure that the information gathered is not siloed in one program, and can instead be used and manipulated by anyone in your team. 

Without this ability, it becomes increasingly difficult to use your chatbot effectively, because you can only leverage your chatbot within itself – it does not have the power to be used in conjunction with your other systems and relate to the bigger picture.

Onboarding process with a new chatbot program

Different chatbot users will have onboarding and training setups. This process is much easier when you (especially new bot builders) have someone to reach out to during the trial period.

Some things to consider here would include:

  • How complicated or user-friendly is my chatbot? Does it need coding to be set up?
  • Is there an onboarding service for new users?
  • Is there 24/7 support available as part of the onboarding process?

An easy onboarding process and dedicated, transparent customer support are features that you should be looking for when considering options for your chatbot solution.

Start a free trial with Instabot today and learn more about how chatbots have the power to transform your marketing and customer support strategies.

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