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8 Things Small Businesses Need to Consider Before Adding a Chatbot to Their Website

8 Things Small Businesses Need to Consider Before Adding a Chatbot to Their Website

A chatbot is a tool that can certainly reinvigorate your business, and it can do so much for how you deliver customer service, build relationships with them, and streamline your operations. A chatbot can be a great tool, but if you are a small business relying on a multitude of tools to automate back-office functions and generally make your life simpler, it can be all too easy to put all of your eggs in one basket once you find a tool that appears like a gift from God. Before you consider adding a chatbot to your website if you are a small company, you should consider a number of factors, including the following:

Your Purpose

If you want to add chat to my website, before you start investing in top-of-the-line tools, you have to define your goals. Understanding your purpose and what the chatbot should achieve will give you a greater idea as to whether it will work for you. A chatbot, in terms of customer service, can achieve a lot, for example, improving customer support or handling frequently asked questions. 

A chatbot beyond customer service can also automate a number of functions within the business and can streamline your efforts very effectively. However, this is worth nothing if you don’t know what you’re going to use it for. When you have a clear and defined purpose, this will help you to understand whether you should design your own or you should use one of the many chatbot drag-and-drop tools available out there.

Its Capabilities

When implementing a chatbot, you have to decide what tasks it will be able to handle. This means you also need to identify any potential limitations of the tool. A chatbot should be a helpful addition to your organization, and it can be very easy to think that a chatbot that is constantly tweaked and fine-tuned will deliver the earth. It can be very easy for us to overpromise and underdeliver to customers or in any other part of the business, for example, in the supply chain. 

When you are intent on using a chatbot that covers a number of different disciplines, you’ve got to be sure it has the capabilities to deal with them. There is no point in saying that you will be able to do x, y, and z once you upgrade your chatbot because this might not be possible for a myriad of reasons, whether it’s your technical limitations or your budget. Save yourself the hassle and do not promise the earth at the outset.

Understand Your Target Audience

Having a better relationship with your customers is about understanding who they are. A chatbot should cater to the specific requirements of your target audience so it can offer a personalized experience. You can alter your chatbot to cater to the needs of your customers over time, resulting in a personalized experience that will increase customer retention, but before you do this, you’ve got to understand what your target audience really wants out of their communications. There is a great divide between generations, specifically relating to how they communicate with people. Younger generations are more inclined to use technology to communicate over real human interaction. 

Conversely, older generations want the less digital approach. They require more human interaction, whether this is through a telephone call or it’s through face-to-face dealings, or even more manual approaches like letters. All the generations want to use things that they are comfortable with. That’s not to say that people over the age of 60 don’t prefer to engage with chatbots because this is not true. Instead, we have to be very aware of how people prefer to interact based on the problems that they are experiencing. 

A chatbot is a very useful tool because it can solve a lot of queries very quickly. The biggest problem here is that it is a more general query that it can solve very effectively rather than a highly specialized one. It’s always beneficial to have human help at the very end in case the chatbot is not able to solve the query. We can still train a chatbot to deal with specific quibbles, especially if we can use more sophisticated chatbots that have greater machine-learning capabilities. But we have to recognize that it is the audience that will guide how we use the chatbot.

How It Integrates with Existing Systems

It can be easy to think that a chatbot will be a capsule solution, but like any tool, whether it’s a project management tool or you are migrating services to the cloud, any new solution has to integrate seamlessly with existing systems and processes. Depending on the needs of your business, you may very well be using inventory management, CRM (customer relationship management) software, or a number of project management tools to guide your business forward. When you have seamless integration with current tools and the chatbot, you’re going to provide better service because you can access relevant data.

One of the most common problems when integrating with existing systems does not just relate to the wrong type of software or outdated non-technical solutions, but it’s that the tool doesn’t blend seamlessly in terms of branding. A chatbot comes in many forms. You can design one yourself or you can use a customized drag-and-drop tool. When using the latter, make sure that you are able to customize it to the point that it works with your branding. It needs to blend with your color schemes, iconography, and general website tone. How it integrates with existing systems is a technical and non-technical pursuit.

User Friendliness

User experience (UX) is partly to do with the already mentioned branding and tone, but it should also be a simple tool. When it comes to technical components, it can be tough to make things seem simple. This is why it’s important to get an understanding of both sides of the equation. If, for example, you are integrating a tool that you have created, you know how to use it, but you also need to make sure that it speaks a universal language. 

Clear instructions, a natural language interface, and a simple layout will be invaluable to users. There is always the potential to overcomplicate things. Instead, we have to prioritize a user-friendly design to improve the UX and positively impact the relationship between the customer and the business. Alienating a customer with technical jargon is a big no-no.

The Overall Costs

Ensuring it is a cost-effective tool is pivotal. A chatbot will require upfront costs to implement, but there are also continuing aspects of maintaining the tool, for example, training and ongoing support so staff can use it effectively. Small businesses have to compare these costs with the potential benefits the chatbot can bring to the company. 

If you are aiming for efficiency and customer satisfaction, how much is this actually going to cost you? Will you be able to justify these costs in the short and long term? A cost-benefit analysis is certainly worth your while because you will be able to look at the bigger picture and actually come to a solid conclusion as to whether the tool provides a real benefit to your business.

The Legal Considerations

Depending on where you are operating, you have a duty of care with regard to sensitive information. Your chatbot could be used in a number of ways, for example, in financial transactions. There are many financial chatbots that make life easier for customers, but you should also ensure that you are complying with the appropriate regulations. This also means looking at your IT infrastructure and if you are able to handle sensitive customer data. 

You will need to have appropriate security measures, whether it is through a managed IT services company or having the experts in-house. Protecting user information is not just a box-ticking exercise but should be taken seriously, especially if you run the risk of being subject to a cyber attack resulting in a data breach.

The Human Side of the Equation

While a chatbot can be used to streamline your business operations, you should determine if the chatbot can operate autonomously or if it requires human support. When a customer interacts with a chatbot, they may not get the answers to their queries, and they want to feel that there is real human help at the other end. Having a seamless transition to a customer service assistant will cultivate a positive experience, and this is ultimately what matters most when you are considering adding a chatbot to your website.

If you can monitor some of these factors you can harness the potential for chatbots to improve your customer service, grow your business, and make your organization last. But you need to give great consideration to the bigger picture. Small businesses need to make their processes simpler, and while a chatbot can seem like the perfect solution, you have to bear in mind how it will impact your operations. 

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Luke C

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