Are Chatbots Taking Over?

We wouldnt normally write about Facebook as we don't cover it on this platform but we have has so many enquiries, we thought we ought to!

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Robots are awesome, we think we can all agree on this. In fact if you had told us that Jonny 5 from the short circuit movies was available as a friend in real life, we would be ECSTATIC!!

But he was real and loved input so would have some cracking chat.

(If you haven’t seen the short circuit movies, you really ought to, they are old now but awesome doesn’t get old)

 

But really, in real life, we haven’t progressed as much as we should have and talking to a robot is generally awful.

So whats my point eh? Well right now we are constantly hearing about chat bots, and we think we need to weigh in.

Step away from the bots!

We aren’t opposed to chatbots in some instances and fully support you if they are good for your business, but before you rush in to watch a Youtube video about how to build a bot in 10 minutes or pay a designer to build one for you, have a think about why you are wanting one and…

What could you be missing here?

Firstly, your customers aren’t stupid, everyone knows when they are chatting to an automated service, and unfortunately, it pretty much always sucks. The massive exceptions being Alexa and Siri but we would put money on there being Google and Apple developers who have torn their hair out tweaking them to get them to the intelligent point they are now at.

Most chatbots will work on a decision tree formula, meaning that you anticipate a range of answers that your customer might give, and then they follow a sequence. If the conversation deviates from the anticipated responses, most bots will be snookered. So it’s doubtful that your chatbot will have the seamless and efficient delivery you want.

Secondly, chatbots aren’t new. They have been around for a while now (just checked and Facebook launched chatbots in early 2016, we’re not sure if they were around on other platforms prior to that and we don’t care enough to Google it.) So if they have been around for nearly three years and presumably when they launched, techy folk were all over it; why are we only seeing a rise in popularity coming along now?

One guess is that they aren’t as good as they were anticipated to be, so have been deemed not worth the effort by the big players.

Thirdly, there is a horrible truth that we seem to be missing and that is: People are crazy.

  • We don’t all communicate in the same way, a bot wont be able to tell the difference between an irate customer and a fresh lead.
  • Customers will expect that an automated service will integrate with things like booking systems and order books, so if it isn’t synced, you could lose sales
  • They can (probably) only handle one sequence at a time, depending on the intelligence of the bot and the sequences you have programmed.
  • If things do go awry, Most people will expect that an automated service to be backed up by a human, so if you think automation will mean that you can go away and let your bot handle your Facebook page, forget it. You could even spend more time having to trawl through chats to find conversations that have been given up on.

Also, colour us cynical, but does it not strike people as odd that Facebook is encouraging business page automation after Zuckerburg announces that interaction with people we care about will be prioritised? Could this be an attempt to get people back on to their platform and potentially spend more money?

Well that’s a real head scratcher!

We get it, you are super busy (well, everybody is) and you want to automate your messages. You want to work ON your business rather than IN your business. You want to make sure people can get info quickly and easily

But at a time where we have companies spending outrageous amounts of money trying to put right the enormous damage to their reputations that automating customer service has done; where it is now a selling point for companies that they let you speak to a real life human being, you have to ask, are chatbots worth it?

If you think they are and want to press ahead, that’s great. There are some excellent resources online to get you started and if you would like to speak to a professional we would be happy to put you in touch with some cracking folk that can help you.