You Ask, I Answer_ Should You Deploy a Chatbot_

Hamid asks,

“Should my business deploy a chatbot for marketing and customer service? What are the reasons or risks?”

Chatbots – and any form of automation – promise a programmatic, uniform customer experience. There are two considerations for making this decision:

  • Cost to match the current customer experience
  • Quality of the current customer experience

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First, how much time, energy, and effort are you willing to invest in building the chatbot? If you’re looking for a fast, easy, solution that’s basically an out-of-the-box experience for you, the marketer, chances are the experience you’re going to provide is terrible. If you’re willing to invest weeks, months, or even years plus lots of people, effort, knowledge, and money to create and tune the AI behind today’s chatbots exclusively for your business, chances are the experience you’re going to provide will be good.

Second, what’s the quality of the current experience you’re providing? If you’re providing a great experience with humans now, then the bar for your chatbot is very high and it’s going to take a lot of time and resources to match that experience. If the experience you provide now is appalling – think Department of Motor Vehicles awful – then the bar for your chatbot is very low and pretty much anything except literally slapping customers in the face will be an improvement.

Those are the two levers you have to honestly audit and measure first. The latter, the customer experience, has many, many measurement systems like surveys, Net Promoter Scores, etc. that you can use to judge your customer experience. If your scores are terrible, then a chatbot could be a promising alternative – but also, take some time to fix your current customer experience and you might find a chatbot is unnecessary.

One important distinction: tinkering with and trying out chatbots is something every marketer should be doing. Whether or not you deploy them, you should be testing them out to learn more and see what’s possible.

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