Building a strong online presence has become of paramount importance for any business – no matter which industry you’re operating in, customers and clients now need to be able to access information about your business online. A functioning and well-designed website is, of course essential to this transaction: customers need to be able to navigate your website and access the information that they need, seamlessly.

However, a website is a static thing – it sits there passively, waiting for customers to engage with it. In 2020, customers often expect something more dynamic – an engaging experience which guides them through the process of accessing information, learning about services and making purchases. This is where a chatbot comes in. Real time communication is essential to engaging these clients, and a chatbot can provide the instant responses customers look for in today’s online environment, whilst also curating the customer’s experience, guiding them through a process of engagement with your business’s products or services.

Your website and your chatbot need to work together to build your brand and increase your market share. Figuring out how to make a chatbot work with your website entails harnessing the power of AI and machine learning to grow your business. It’s time to figure out how to make a chatbot work for you.

Chatbot Back End

A chatbot is essentially a computer program designed to mimic human interaction – there are a number of ways you can build this. First, let’s look at the different technology you can use to create your chatbot, to figure out what will work for you and your website.

The first and simplest version of a chatbot is a scripted bot. The chatbot is programmed with predetermined answers that a user accesses by asking the right questions or selecting from prompts that the chatbot offers. This is the easiest chatbot to build, following a simple rule-based, input-output design, but its limitations are obvious if the customer wants to go off script. Nevertheless, a scripted chatbot can be a valuable tool on any website – it can lead its users down a desired path.

Beyond a script-based model for a chatbot, you can start employing machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in your chatbots, to create dynamic and human-like conversationalists that can engage, delight and assist your customer experience. An AI powered bot can be programmed with natural language processing (NLP). This gives it a deeper understanding of how humans phrase questions and enquiries. Further, intellectually independent bots use machine learning to recognise keywords in a chat and offer the appropriate responses. According to Josefina Childers, a business writer at Last Minute Writing and Writinity, this means “that users of an intellectually independent chatbot aren’t restricted to a series of prompts, and a more natural and engaging interaction can follow.

This kind of chatbot will analyse itself and its responses in order to recognise more keywords in the future, ultimately teaching itself how to respond based on its interactions.”

Chatbot Functions

Chatbots are proliferating across the web as diverse industries recognise the versatility and value of well programmed bots. No matter what you’re selling, it’s likely that a chatbot can add a great deal of value to your website. Let’s look at some of the functions a chatbot can have as it contributes to your online presence.

Perhaps the most common form of chatbot on websites now is a customer service-oriented bot offering live FAQ services. Traditional static FAQ pages are now commonly  being replaced by chatbots, usually of the scripted variety due to the predictable nature of this interaction. Live FAQs can be curated by chatbots, which can be programmed to ask follow-up questions after a client’s initial enquiry and potentially connect the user with a real customer service operative if the need arises.

Navigational bots are emerging to reduce the labour that a customer needs to employ to find products or services on the web. “Navigational bots can act as a digital personal shopper and can offer great ROI as customers are quickly brought in front of the products they’re searching for,” say Josefina Childers, a business writer at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk

Chatbots can also act as part of a broader marketing strategy and help to generate more leads from social media or blog content. A lead generation bot can contact subscribers about relevant stories and offers.

How To Build Your Chatbot

The project of building a chatbot for your website doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. If your chatbot needs aren’t complex, there are nowadays platforms that offer chatbot templates that can be selected and adapted. These range from the idiot-proof, where inputs and outputs are selected from drop down menus to those that require slightly more technical know-how. Often, these platforms are cheap or even free and can create a basic scripted chatbot that will suit your site’s needs.

However, if you want your chatbot to be at the top of its game, you may need to employ the help of a developer to create a slick chatbot that will keep customers engaged and impressed. Building a chatbot from scratch allows you to incorporate natural language processing and machine learning, creating a sophisticated bot that can handle the most challenging customer requests. The downsides of a custom chatbot are the time and cost that’ll need to be invested, but a sophisticated custom bot can provide great ROI.

Robot World

The ability of a well-integrated chatbot to offer anything from customer support to a personalised shopping experience makes a chatbot a must-have for any forward-thinking business, and no website will be complete without one. There are multiple roads to go down when designing a chatbot, so thinking about how a chatbot will function within the context of your business is essential, and whether you’ll opt for a scripted bot from a free platform or a virtually self-aware bot equipped with NLP will depend on your business’s requirements. What’s clear, however, is that chatbots are becoming a vital tool across all industries. 

Victoria Munson is a business reporter at Business Assignments and Gum Essays, she stays up to date in the dynamic world of online marketing. She helps audiences build and operate successful web strategies.

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