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Ideally, you’d be able to have a one-on-one conversation with every site visitor to get their opinion and answer any questions they might have. While the ideal isn’t possible, live chat edges you a little closer. In practice though, it could be impossible to handle multiple conversations at once, and give them your due care and attention.
Chatbots pose an interesting solution to scalability issues when chatting to visitors. In this article, we’ll break down the difference between chatbots and live chat. Then we’ll introduce you to five of the best chatbot services you can use for your website.
Let’s sit down and chat!
A Quick Overview of Chatbots
Chat windows are currently a fairly popular support channel for websites. The idea is that you can provide much faster support and responses for any questions visitors might have. This, in turn, can lead to more conversions and happier users.
As we alluded to, the issue is that scaling live chat can be difficult. Often, there’s still an actual person on the other side of the screen, answering visitor queries. With website growth comes a greater number of chats to deal with. If you depend on live chat as a source of leads and sales, this means you might need to employ several people just to keep up with conversations.
If you have the budget, this can be a viable option. However, for smaller operations, it’s not feasible. Enter chatbots. As the name implies, when you use a chatbot, you’re not talking to a real person, but to a ‘robot’.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a trendy ‘buzzword,’ especially when it comes to chatbots. In practice, though, most chatbots use one of two approaches to power their responses:
- Conversation flows based around triggers. With this approach, you can configure your chatbot to provide canned responses based on specific keywords or multiple-option questions.
- Machine learning. Some services enable you to ‘train’ your chatbot with user data, so it can provide better responses based on the gleaned information.
With both approaches, it’s your job to ‘train’ the chatbot, even with services that take coding out of the equation. This can also translate to a lot of work, but in some cases it can be worth it.
The Pros and Cons of Using Chatbots
Chatbots are very popular currently for all manner of businesses. For smaller operations, chatbots can provide faster customer service using a smaller team. Big companies can cut operation costs by up to 30 percent with proper chatbot implementation.
According to IBM, properly-configured chatbots can handle up to 80 percent of standard user queries. Some studies show that a significant number of users would prefer to interact with a chatbot instantly, rather than wait for a customer service agent.
We know chatbots work. However, there’s a big gap in the experience between using a correctly set up chatbot and one that isn’t. If you use a poor service or you don’t put enough work into configuring your chatbot’s responses, the experience can be off-putting for visitors.
Think about it in terms of interacting with a support agent who can’t answer your questions effectively. It’s an immensely frustrating experience, which is why businesses that provide better support get so much love from users.
Chatbots that can’t provide proper support, or at the very least transfer you to a live user, can have a massively negative impact on your visitor’s experience. If you’re looking to implement one for your website, you need to do it properly – the right service is essential.
5 Best Chatbots for Your WordPress Website
For this section, we’re going to focus on what we call ‘chatbot’ builders. This terminology is important because chatbots are not plug-and-play solutions. For any service you want to use, you’ll need to adapt their chatbots to your website and the services you provide.
The good news is, all the chatbot solutions we’re going to cover in this article work with WordPress (usually through plugins), so that’s one less thing to worry about.
1. Messenger Bots
If you’ve ever used Facebook Messenger to interact with a business, you might have been using a chatbot without knowing it. Messenger bots come in a lot of flavors, such as regular live-support experiences and e-commerce assistants.
Despite what the name implies, you can use Messenger bots outside the social media platform too. However, you do need to set up a Facebook app and ‘webhooks’ to power it, which ties you to the platform.
As far as flexibility goes, Messenger Bots provide some of the most advanced sets of integrations you can find. In particular, they’re a standout option when it comes to e-commerce.
As for WordPress, there are several plugins you can use to embed Facebook Messenger into your pages. Our top recommendation is WP-Chatbot for Facebook Messenger, which adds a simple widget you can use on your site. Plus, it’s compatible with WooCommerce out of the box.
One final plus of using Messenger Bots is that there’s an entire industry of services built around helping you set up one for your business. They can be expensive, but worth it if you don’t have any development experience.
- Build advanced chatbots that can handle more than just simple questions, including e-commerce.
- Connect your bot to multiple Facebook pages.
- Integrate the bot with WordPress using a plugin.
- Use third-party bot builders to simplify the process.
Price: You can build a Messenger Bot for free, but you will need to set up a Facebook page and app for your website.
Although chatbots can be plenty useful, it’s always a good idea to have a human backup who can handle any ‘off-piste’ queries. Botsify shines in this area thanks to a feature they call ‘Human Handover’.
Ultimately, if your Botsify chatbot can’t provide visitors with the answers they need, they can request human help instantly. The service then notifies you or your team so someone can jump in and save the day.
Botsify works using conversational flow diagrams. You can program ‘stories’ so the chatbot knows what to say and what words or choices will trigger it. Botsify doesn’t require exact keyword matches to work – it also supports patterns and phrases.
- Build chatbots using conversational flows.
- Configure responses based on keyword matches, patterns, or phrases.
- Integrate the bot with WordPress either manually or by using a plugin.
Price: Plans start at $50 per month for up to ten chatbots and 30,000 unique users.
3. IBM Watson Assistant
IBM Watson Assistant is one of the most interesting chatbot options you can use for your website. In a nutshell, Watson can integrate with a multitude of popular services, including Slack and Messenger. You can also connect the assistant with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to build chatbots that can genuinely double as assistants.
If you’re looking for a simple chatbot solution for your website, Watson Assistant can be a bit overkill. The upside is, you get access to IBM Watson’s advanced machine learning capabilities, which can help you improve your assistant over time.
When it comes to web chats, Watson Assistant includes all the classic features you need. You get access to a simplified chatbot builder, and users can ask to be ‘handed off’ to a live agent. Plus, it handles changes in topics gracefully, at least for a robot.
For WordPress integration, you can rely on plugins, as usual. For this chatbot, your best bet is Chatbot with IBM Watson, which enables you to customize the appearance and placement of your ‘assistant’.
- Connect your chatbot to a vast list of services and IoT devices.
- Get access to machine learning functionality.
- Build your chatbot using a simplified interface.
- Hand off users to live agents.
- Integrate the bot with WordPress using a plugin.
Price: To get access to IBM Watson’s chat interface, you need to spring for the Plus plan, which requires you to contact a sales representative for a quote.
The experience using Landbot.io is a lot different than with other chatbot builders. For one, the service itself is incredibly easy to use, making it a great option for anyone who doesn’t have a background in development. It works using a simple conversation flow system, but you get access to a lot of element types you can use to spruce up conversations.
For example, Landbot.io enables you to include GIFs as part of your responses. The interface of the chatbot itself is a lot more stylish than most other options, thanks to custom animations and styles. Overall, although there isn’t as much depth as with Messenger Bots or IBM Watson Assistant, Landbot.io is still an excellent choice for simple, fun chatbot implementations.
- Build chatbots using conversation flows.
- Include elements such as GIFs and animations within your responses.
- Use pre-built styles and templates to customize your chatbot’s design.
- Integrate your chatbot with third-party services such as Slack.
Price: There’s a free tier that supports up to 100 chats per month, which is good enough for testing purposes.
Chatbots might not replace traditional support agents anytime soon, but the progress is impressive. Depending on how much work you put into your chatbot and what service you use, the experience itself can be fun and not frustrating for users.
A few of the best chatbot services you should consider trying out include:
- Messenger Bots: With Messenger, you get easy integration with WordPress and advanced e-commerce functionality.
- Botsify: This platform offers one of the simplest bot-building experiences, and it keeps WordPress integration simple.
- IBM Watson Assistant: This uses machine learning capabilities to optimize your responses.
- Landbot.io: By far the most stylish chatbot builder around, and it’s pretty easy to use as well.
What do you think about using chatbots for basic support queries? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by Visual Generation / shutterstock.com.