• April 30, 2022

Should Your Small Business Use Ecommerce Chatbots?

The pros and cons of conversational commerce

Conversation is a central part of the buying process, whether you’re asking the wine clerk which red they recommend or messaging a store owner on Facebook to see if they sell gift cards.

I’m sure you visited a website and a chat box popped up asking if you needed help or offered to start a conversation. Chances are the “person” you’re talking to isn’t human.

A chatbot allows business owners to provide answers and solutions, and even generate leads and sales, 24/7 through automated customer service live chat. According to IBM, a chatbot could answer up to 80% of routine customer service questions.

There are two types of chatbots:

1. Those who trust the rules and can only accept/respond in a limited way.

2. Those that use artificial intelligence to employ sophisticated algorithms to accept/respond.

One of the areas where we will see this technology more and more is healthcare. While nothing will replace a professional, especially in an emergency, it’s convenient and quick to ask a bot a simple question about a cold or what medications interact with breastfeeding.

Here’s an example: Florence is a popular online personal health assistant. “Ella” has focused on two main features: health tracking and medication reminders. All users have to do is start a chat with her on Facebook Messenger, Kik, or Skype and she’ll join in.

Now, let’s take a look at three advantages of conversational commerce:

1. Quick responses, multiple options. It can answer queries lightning fast, and this type of interaction is possible on a wide range of platforms, including Facebook Messenger, SMS, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Business Chat, and WeChat.

2. Money, money, money. You don’t need to work late to answer questions, and you don’t need to pay employees to respond to every interaction. If you want to sell through your bot, people can buy your product or service anytime, anywhere.

3. Collect data automatically. Ecommerce chatbots collect data so you can deliver a more personalized experience every time someone engages with your brand. And you get a lot of valuable information about your users’ needs, pain points, and clothing purchases.

Caption: Domino’s uses a wide variety of tools to enable pizza lovers to quickly order, pay and track their food.

Let’s balance that with three cons:

1. They cannot replace humans. Especially in the medical and legal fields, there is concern that patients may use these technologies instead of seeking professional help. Also, you should not use conversational commerce as your only form of customer service. Your customers should be able to connect with a live person, at least during your regular business hours.

2. Misunderstandings may occur. The problem is in natural language understanding, which is the ability to determine intent. Bots aren’t as adept at understanding us as our fellow humans, at least not yet. Customers will get frustrated with eCommerce chatbots that don’t work well and take their business to a competitor.

3. They are not suitable for all situations. It’s true that many businesses can benefit from this ever-changing technology, but don’t try to force it. If your services are too complex to map to AI chat or require extensive queries, a chatbot likely won’t help qualify leads or sales.

Chatbots are far from perfect, and while they will certainly advance in the future, you don’t want to alienate customers now. By understanding the pros and cons, you can ensure you’re making the best chat option for your business.

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