Chatbots- are they worth adding to your site?
If you spend much time on the Internet, you’ve likely seen chatbots pop up on the bottom right of your screen when visiting a new site. Usually sporting a friendly message and a generic name, the chatbot has become a staple of many sites. But do they actually help prospective customers?
We use a chatbot service called Crisp Chat on several of our sites, and recently we did an internal review on the value the bot brings, our use of it, and how we can improve things for the future. I want to share what we found in hopes of answering a few questions. First, are chatbots worth using, and if so, how can we use them best??
First, we chose Crisp because it isn’t only a bot. We can also staff it with team members ready to step in and answer questions, provide clarity, and direct users to relevant pages. Crisp functions similarly to Facebook Messenger, allowing you to send images and links along with your messages. However, users can only access the chat on your site, so they aren’t distracted while browsing. It works more like messaging than email, with instant feedback for both sides.
Where Crisp differs from a simple messaging service is data collection. It collects basic data on each user, like name and location. Then, users can opt to provide their email, which enables follow-up. The last page they browsed on your site is logged too, and the date and time they were last active. You can even see which pages users are interacting with in real-time. All this data is collected for review, and you can filter, sort, and download it for your use. A robust analytics page ties things together with pertinent stats like the number of weekly conversations, mean response time, and total weekly visitors. If you’d like, you can dive deeper, add your own parameters, and publish your findings in reports to share with your marketing team.
When using Crisp Chat, there are several features to be aware of. First, it integrates with CRMs, popular messaging services, and many more tools. Use the basic features but experiment with the advanced ones to increase your effectiveness. Second, we often use private messaging between team members inside a customer conversation. It allows us to share strategies, ideas, and information before bringing it to their attention. Finally, a feature that we don’t use, but could offer value for you, is the Helpdesk. Crisp’s Helpdesk is a library of your most popular articles presented to users directly through the bot.
Our biggest lesson with Crisp and chatbots has been that you need team members with varying experiences to man your bot. Often customers pose questions with basic informational answers, but sometimes they need technical information. We recommend staffing your chat service with team members comfortable with your products on a technical level.
Before we go, one insight from our experience: add a human touch to conversations. While the user might be talking with a bot, if you take over, be personable. Some customers are comfortable talking to a bot, and some prefer speaking directly with a team member. Choose the best approach for the situation and use the tools available for productive conversations.
Ultimately, a chatbot has been a valuable outlet for communication with prospects, customers, architects, and contractors. While the traditional means of calls and emails still reach us, the instant messaging, data collection, and helpful analytics of a chatbot offer a unique advantage. All this is another path for connecting with prospects, answering their questions, and setting appointments.
We recommend trying one for yourself and interacting with several bots on other websites to get a feel for them. As AI advances, I expect chatbots to become more popular as they improve. Who knows? Maybe chatbots will play a major role sooner than we think.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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