Surely you have ever used a chatbot while shopping online or looking for tools for your business. They seem to be everywhere…

… except on your website. You’ve never installed one and you don’t know if it’s worth it, or you may have had bad experiences with chatbots that didn’t help you and made you go buy somewhere else.

So, is it a good idea to incorporate a chatbot into your business? How exactly does it work? Do we have to touch code or any API? In this article you will find answers to all these questions.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is like a virtual assistant that communicates with your customers through software. You can start conversations, answer questions, create tickets, and automate other tasks without human intervention. 

You can install a chatbot on your website (using a live chat widget), on your social messaging platforms (eg Facebook chatbot), or in your messaging applications (eg Facebook chat bot). WhatsApp). Good software allows you to create multi-channel chatbots that offer your customer a similar experience between messaging apps and widgets.

Types of chatbots 

There are three types of chatbots: those powered by artificial intelligence (AI), flow chatbots, and hybrids.

AI chatbots

Chatbots or conversational bots with artificial intelligence are solutions designed to work alone through machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). They are able to understand the context of the message and offer users appropriate and logical responses. 

The advantage of AI chatbots is that they are able to hold conversations with users without a person behind them. They only require an initial configuration.

How do AI chatbots work? They are able to learn and improve their performance over time: the more frequent the conversations, the more effective they become. 

Before putting it on your website, you have to train it to answer the most common queries from your customers. The bot will learn keywords and synonyms, start to understand the context of the conversation and be able to identify the user’s intention to offer the most relevant answers.

Training it is not very complicated, but it does take time to make it work properly. For this reason, and because they need more advanced solutions, many small businesses choose conversation flow bots.

Flow chatbots

Although chatbots are considered AI-powered virtual assistants, the most widely used are still flow chatbots .

They are also known as “decision tree bots” or “rule-based bots” and are capable of having conversations based on predefined conversation flows. 

How do flow chatbots work? They are very easy to set up and manage as you can design any conversation flow with if/then rules, or by easily dragging and dropping elements into a flow builder. 

flow-based chatbot built with Sendinblue

Conversations is Sendinblue’s new chat app for creating flow chatbots in just a few clicks.

The first thing is to write the answers to the questions you expect users to ask you and activate the bot. Don’t expect the bot to improvise, as it will only follow the script you provide. This has its advantages and disadvantages. 

On the one hand, you have full control of customer interactions and avoid mistakes that an AI bot could make. 

But on the other hand, you have to know very well the problems of your prospects and customers to create relevant conversation flows. If you don’t have a history of conversations with customers (live chat conversations, emails, sales calls, etc.) to draw on, you won’t be able to design flows that meet customer expectations.

And, of course, a rule-based chatbot cannot have conversations that go off script.

Hybrid chatbots

Hybrid chatbots incorporate elements of decision tree bots and live chats. They are a simple and effective solution that allows human intervention at any time and without difficulty.

In a hybrid model, the chatbot is limited to starting conversations and answering common questions. The user will always be able to talk to a person to receive personalized attention or solve more complex problems. Most chatbots allow one person to easily take over and the user experience remains seamless.

The configuration process is very simple and consists of creating sequences and defining those situations in which an agent must intervene in the conversation. 

What is a chatbot for? 

Are they used for more than just customer support? Of course.

According to Intercom’s Chatbot Trends report, the teams that use chatbots the most are sales teams. They are also used for marketing, customer service and support, onboarding processes and feedback collection.

hatbot uses stats

Chatbots for marketing

There are many cases where a chatbot can be a very useful marketing tool. You can use it for the following:

  • Announce new products and offers
  • Share news and updates
  • Inform customers about the product  
  • Automate and support multi-channel marketing campaigns
  • Track the user who abandons a shopping cart
  • Upsell and cross-sell
  • Improve the reputation of a brand

Note on upselling and cross-selling

Chatbots are especially useful for upselling and cross-selling in e-commerce.

They can identify and offer relevant products based on the user’s search history. In this case, AI chatbots are more effective than rule-based chatbots because they can collect data about the customer in real time and offer highly personalized recommendations.

Chatbots for sales

60% of businesses  that use chatbots sell to consumers (B2C). Chatbots help move prospects through the sales cycle by recommending products, assisting with checkout processes, or solving problems during checkout.

But chatbots can also be an effective sales channel for B2C brands, because they are capable of running lead generation campaigns automatically. Here are some of the things they can do:

  • Promote lead magnets to capture the visitor’s attention
  • Capture leads with integrated forms
  • Cultivate the relationship with leads by sending them automated flows and relevant messages
  • schedule appointments
  • qualify leads
  • Offer product demos from the same chat widget

Chatbots for onboarding processes

SaaS companies often use chatbots to guide new users through their product. 

These are some of the tasks that chatbots often help with:

  • Set up a new account
  • Explore product features
  • Upgrade to a higher plan
  • Highlight rules and policies
  • Solve problems

The easiest way to guide new users through your product is to integrate the chatbot platform with your knowledge base. Every time someone has a question about your product, the chatbot will get the answer from that base and show it to the user in the chat widget.

Chatbots for support and customer service 

Customer support is considered the second most important functionality for a chatbot (in 37%  of cases). In fact, when customers have a problem, it’s easier to ask for help directly through live chat. Customers love how quickly they can get help and not have to write an email and wait for a reply.

A hybrid model allows customer service agents to offer 24/7 support and resolve simple issues automatically. If the chatbot is unable to resolve an issue, it is escalated to a person or a ticket is opened to further investigate the case.

Chatbots to collect feedback

A chat widget can also collect customer feedback automatically. Simply include a survey or feedback form in your conversation streams.

Although elements like pop-ups and sticky banners are often ignored by users, chat widgets are still hard to ignore. Chatbot solutions offer a number of advantages over other methods of collecting feedback.

  • One of them is that they attract attention with personal and authentic messages. 
  • They keep customers on the hook by asking one question after another.
  • Do not redirect users to a specific survey page.

This is why customer support chatbots are a simple yet reliable tool for collecting feedback.

Advantages of using a chatbot

Sales, marketing, and customer service teams use chatbots for a variety of reasons. Here are the six most important benefits that a chatbot solution can bring to a business regardless of size. 

1. They generate greater user interaction

Chatbots increase website engagement and increase user interaction. For example, imagine that one day, looking for Christmas gifts, you come across the Corte Inglés chatbot:

You would surely spend some time talking to Corti and clicking on her recommendations.

When you send messages proactively, chatbots capture the attention of users and start conversations that lead to sales opportunities.

2. They improve the reputation of your brand

You will agree that the Corte Inglés chatbot is out of the ordinary, and you will probably remember it for a long time. This experience creates a positive perception of the brand that moves the prospect one step closer to conversion.

But using a fun and very personal message is not the only way to improve your brand reputation with a chatbot.

In this world where immediacy is so highly valued, users will appreciate the simple fact of responding quickly and appropriately to their questions. We all like brands that value our time and go out of their way to help.

3. They automate time-consuming tasks

Chatbots can answer all those repetitive questions so you don’t have to do it over and over again. In addition, they save you tasks such as scheduling meetings and collecting contact information from your leads. With the right chatbot solution, you will stop wasting hours copying and pasting information and can focus on the tasks with the greatest impact.

4. Increase customer satisfaction

Customers want fast, hassle-free service. They want direct answers to their questions, without waiting, complicated tools, or forms to fill out. Chatbots provide this direct support channel. And users love to visit your website when they know the experience will be good. 

5. They improve the involvement of your team

Aren’t chatbots taking work away from customer service agents? No, quite the opposite. They help create more productive teams and improve employee engagement.

Because attending so many unqualified conversations is not a very motivating job to say.

Installing a chatbot is like hiring an assistant to help your team. It handles boring, repetitive conversations and lets agents take charge of important conversations whenever they need to. Therefore, your team will be able to deliver tangible results and feel accomplished.

6. Increase income

Fast support and personalized attention translates into more sales ( 67%  more) and greater customer retention. 

Chatbots also contribute to the ROI of your company by reducing costs. This savings is one of the  top 3 reasons  leaders decide to use an AI chatbot. 

What should be taken into account when using a chatbot?

Because so far everything sounds wonderful. But, as with any other marketing tool, there are things to consider:

  • First you have to analyze the needs and problems of your audience.  To create conversation flows that don’t get on your nerves, the first thing is to understand very well what matters to them and why they contact you through a chat widget.
  • Your chatbot software has to be easy to integrate into your CRM system. A bot disconnected from everything else is of little use. You have to synchronize it with your CRM to record data from your leads and your customers and, thus, be able to use them in future campaigns.
  • It is better to choose a multi-channel solution. If you choose an all-in-one service, you not only get an integrated CRM system, but you also get access to a toolkit that will allow you to launch multi-channel campaigns. For example, you can set up transactional or email campaigns that target users who have engaged in chat.
  • Agents are still needed to manage complex matters. Even the most sophisticated bots have their limitations. Think that your bot is there to streamline the work of your team while it focuses on the conversations that really matter.