Chatbot Software 101: The Ultimate Guide to Automating Your Sales, Marketing, and Customer Care in 2022.
Visit almost any website today and you will see a small “pop-up” item, usually on the bottom right, and it will appear to be “talking” to you! This is called a chatbot software. These little widgets are actually very convenient devices for communicating with your customers, especially about commonly asked questions. Visit almost any website today and you will see a small “pop-up” item, usually on the bottom right, and it will appear to be “talking” to you! This is called a chatbot software. These little widgets are actually very convenient devices for communicating with your customers, especially about commonly asked questions.
Does your business need a chatbot? Is your business ready for this leap into purely digital communication? Which features will be best for your business? These questions and more will be answered by this article. When you finish reading this you will be able to understand what a chatbot is. Acronyms such as AI, ML, NLP, and UX won’t be “all Greek” to you!
First, What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot enables people to interact with an app, a messaging platform, or a website in a conversational manner. Essentially chatbot software “chats” with the user, hence, the name “chatbot”. Often, a chatbot will be the first contact a customer has with a business, whether in sales, customer support, marketing, and more. Chatbots can also be used for internal communication systems and operations.
A business which uses a chatbot for communication with either customers or between employees controls how the chatbot interacts. In more technical terms, chatbots function on the basis of already scripted conversation, utilizing language recognition (both written and spoken), Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, and Machine Learning (ML), to emulate human conversations, and to perform various transactions. Chatbots improve your user’s experience.
Rather than taking up your sales and support staff time with answering commonly asked questions, a chatbot can be enabled to provide these answers. The bottom line is this: chatbot software saves time and money for your company, without sacrificing customer contact.
Still not sure if your business needs a chatbot? Read on…
What Type of Business Does NOT Need a Chatbot?
ALL businesses need a chatbot! According to Statista, over 2.14 billion people purchased goods and services online in 2021. Oftentimes, these customers want an immediate response to questions. They have become used to getting everything with the click of a button! This is when a chatbot comes in handy.
Smaller business can begin with a free chatbot builder or open-source chatbot software. As the business grows, a paid chatbot solution becomes more relevant.
Who Uses a Chatbot?
Any business looking to increase profits needs to offer multiple digital communications avenues with customers. Chatbots are an excellent tool and can be used for:
• Human resources
• Customer care
As your business grows you want to make sure you never lose touch with your customers.
Chatbot benefits that will blow your mind
• never take days off
• do not experience “burn-out”
• do not become bored with their jobs
• do not require hiring more staff
• aid in customer retention
• help increase your revenues
• give you more data about your customers
• allow your employees to work more efficiently, also from home
• are excellent remote collaboration tools
• never miss a query
• can alert the relevant individual as needed
• create a speedy, flexible service
• allow more work to be done, with fewer errors, and less confusion
Are Your Customers Ready to use Chatbot Software?
Pretty much all your customers will enjoy the immediate gratification which chatbots offer. Some, such as more elderly users who are not used to digital communications or very young whose language skills may still be lacking, may find using a chatbot more challenging.
Are Chatbots Illegal?
Let’s be clear: CHATBOTS ARE LEGAL!
There are, however, regulations which work to minimize using chatbots for nefarious purposes. Additionally, chatbots can be limited by their scope of capabilities and which transactions they may undertake.
What is the Difference Between Chatbots, Virtual Assistants, and Virtual Agents?
Chatbots come in all shapes and sizes. Some are simple, some more complex.
• FAQ Chatbots are used to present relevant answers to commonly asked questions.
• Virtual Assistants can answer questions, collect basic data and perform basic actions.
• Virtual Agents can do all the above and also perform multiple and complex transactions.
• AI Chatbots can make users feel like they are chatting with a real person. They do so by using voice and text recognition software with utilize Natural Language Processing (NLP).
• Menu Chatbots offer questions with options to users, in the manner of a decision-tree, in order to lead the user to their desired destination or result.
• Contextual or Rule-based Chatbots are based on logic, using predetermined business rules, processing queries in a conversational mode. When combined with ML capabilities, improved responses are developed.
• Keyword Recognition Chatbots will “listen” and respond according to NLP and AI principles.
• Voice Bots can understand what you say and may even talk back to you!
• Hybrid Chatbots use a mix of AI and rule based functions.
Chatbot platforms are intelligent conversational interfaces. This does not mean they think for themselves. They are programmed with built-in templates and scenarios representing the most common questions, tasks, and transactions. Are you confused? Is this too much “tech-jargon”? Read on and discover more…
What Makes (or Breaks) Good Chatbot Software?
What do you need to consider when choosing chatbot software?
• Necessary functions
• Scale of your business
• Your existing infrastructure
• Security compliance of your industry
Bear in mind, you can always scale up. Address your key concerns first. Setting up a chatbot should be both intuitive and easy!
Here are some key features to look for:
Drag and Drop Chatbot Builder – Use it to build your decision-tree, define rules and functions, and create scripted responses. No coding required.
Flows, Templates, and Users – Procedure flows and templates allow you to set up your chatbot according to your industry, and the learned processes from chatbot setups already executed by the chatbot vendor.
Facebook Chatbot Software Integration (also with other channels and systems) – Your chatbot should integrate with Facebook messenger and Instagram DM, as well as other popular website content management systems (CMS). Integrating with popular apps increases your availability to your customers. This requires API integration, diverse cloud use, and security functions.
Security – Due to chatbot software being cloud-based in many cases, there is the risk for cyber-attacks. With increasing numbers of home-based workers, remote connectivity is important. Security, identification, and access becomes more complex. Privacy regulations, such as GDPR must be considered. There are also some industy-based security concerns requiring compliance.
Chatbot Personalization – You will want your chatbot to seem as “human-like” as possible. Look for conversational ability, and options to customize and brand your chatbot.
Easy to Use – A chatbot should be easy to use for your customers, for your support employees, and your IT team. Look for an intuitive user interface (and if possible coding–free) for all users of the software.
The Human Handoff – A seamless interaction between the chatbot, your customers, and any personnel should be expected.
Reporting and Analytics – At the end of the day, you not only want to have succeeded in your interactions with your customers, but you also want to have gained information about them. Look for a good reporting tool and check if the chatbot can interface your database.
So now that you have your chatbot platform set up, how will it make you money?
In the Words of Jerry Maguire “Show Me the Money!” (#1)
Is a free trial a good idea?
YES! Using free chatbot software, free plans, or free trials, is a great way to start using and gaining experience with a chatbot. However, that free software is typically limited in the number of users or in functionality. As your business grows, you may want to switch to a paid option, which may be via monthly subscription plan or based on the number of users. Such a plan can allow you to grow your chatbot usage gradually.
The Link Between Scope and Price
Larger companies may have their own in-house IT staff, larger budget, and more complex needs, along with greater integration with their existing IT and website infrastructure. They may also have a larger number of employees and more customers, which are perhaps located internationally.
Smaller businesses do not have in-house IT staff or large budgets. They may also have simpler needs. Cloud-based chatbots with scripted templates and a chatbot builder which requires little, or no coding are appropriate for their needs. As they grow, they can add IT staff as needed, and add more functionality to the chatbot.
In the Words of Jerry Maguire “Show Me the Money!” (#2)
Four Ways that Chatbots Can Help Your Company Make Money
• Ensure customers receive appropriate responses
• Keep customers happy and loyal
Increased Revenue per User
• Present timely upsell opportunities to customers
• Increase customer engagement through proactive responses
• More conversions and sales through enhanced customer service
Improved Operational Efficiency
• Allow for increased efficiency via transaction guides
• Reduction of complaints and volume of support tickets
• Considerable savings in cost
Reduce Customer Churn
• Increase customer retention leading to savings and increased profits
Now, let’s check out which chatbots really stand out!
A Short Review of the 7 Best Chatbot Software options for 2022
According to Jared Cornell, in his blog about Chatbots Life published in June 2021 “…chatbot builders must have smart functionalities and a zero or slight learning curve for effortless and efficient usage.”
Below is a list of chatbot examples that meet these conditions, and their main features.
An easy way to build a chatbot without coding. It is designed for improving marketing operations with social media integration, gaining, and storing customer contact data.
• Official partner of Meta (formerly Facebook)
• Sends prospects from social media ads directly to your chatbot
• Cuts your cost per lead
• 24/7 response
• FAQ templates to resolve 80% of customer queries
• Drag and drop user interface
Free trial for one month, including 50 conversions. Paid plans start from $8.99/month and allow for more conversions (or users) with a reduced cost per conversion rate. All plans include a full-featured bot and support.
Built to enhance sales by engaging customers in Instagram and Facebook direct messaging tools. Conversation automation to drive more sales, and engage prospects.
• Automated interactions: Instagram Direct Messages and Facebook Messenger
• Instant support and personalized conversations
• Visual drag and drop interface, no coding
• Captures contact data
• Complete funnel with SMS and email
• Connect to diverse tools; Shopify, Google Sheets, MailChimp, Klaviyo, HubSpot, Zapier and more
Free plan for up to 1000 users with limited channels and features. Pro plan for $15 per month.
For conversational marketing to engage customers, qualify leads, share content and schedule a meeting with sales. It’s all about the power of the right conversation at the right time, to personalize the customer experience.
• Qualified leads handoff to sales reps (routing)
• Expedite your marketing ROI, get sales revenue faster
• Automated marketing pipeline
• A/B testing
• Message customization
Drift has a free option and 3 paid main plans: Premium, Advanced and Enterprise. Each plan stacks more features on top of the previous one. Prices are not available online. All plans include onboarding and troubleshooting support. There is a special plan for startups and extra services for customization and AI.
Combines live chat and chatbots for enhanced customer relationships for better service and higher sales. It offers easy installation and integrates with many services and apps.
• Live chat
• AI and templates for automating 40% of customer conversations
• Website visitor data collection
• Reduced cart abandonment by 60%
• Lead qualification
• Timely communication to customers on mobile, desktop and tablet
Free plan available. Trial period of 7 days. No credit card required to start. The paid plan starts from $15 per month for up to 40 operators. For $39 per month there are no limits on the number of active chatbots or visitors.
Powers conversations between a brand and its customers. Serving innovative companies such as Zoom, Facebook and Shopify. It can integrate with Salesforce for enhanced operational efficiency.
• Automated personalized customer experience
• Your brand is always available
• Proactive suggestions that drives results
• Beyond automated FAQs
• No coding
• Business- and developer-friendly support
Pricing plans are not provided online. You can request a demo.
It calls itself the best chatbot, sales-automation text messaging platform. With a focus on mobile apps and social media integration, it helps businesses create a seamless customer experience, while cutting customer care costs.
• Instagram DM approved, integrates with Facebook, SMS and website chats (WordPress plugin)
• Products design for industry silos; agencies, in-house marketers, companies
• 24/7 integrated chat automation, live chat support
• OmniChat® – patented chatbot marketing technology
• Multi-platform chatbot builder
• Unified chat inbox
• Money back guarantee (or get more leads)
• Data collection and segmentation
• Lead qualification and nurturing
A free trial is available. Price is available on call.
The world’s first AI-powered conversational cloud. Its live chat makes it easy for conversations to happen in the channels customers use every day. For marketing, sales and customer care.
• Voice to messaging, live chat, automated chatbots
• Intent manager – discover and understand your customers in real-time
• Conversation builder – easily scale with intuitive point-to-click interface
• Conversation manager – engage with customers on desktop and mobile
• Conversation analytics – measure and optimize, gauge your chatbot ROI in real-time
• Integrated with SMS, websites, social media and third-party, including CRM
• Enterprise-grade security compliance
Prices not available online. You can request a demo.
Chatbot software 2022 snapshot
For easier decision-making, use the table below for an “at-a-glance” review of chatbot features and prices:
How to Select a Chatbot?
Which chatbot platform is best?
Many chatbot software option offer similar features. Everyone promises AI, increased conversions, and higher revenues. You now have a better understanding of the various capabilities offered, and the technologies behind them. Choose a chatbot based on your business needs, your budget, and on your experience with a potential supplier. Understand what you will get for your money. Remember, you can always scale up, so chatbot software with growth plans are an excellent starting point. From free to DYI to complex AI chatbots, the market has something for everyone.