Why Chatbots Fail—And How To Make Sure Yours Doesn’t

If you think of your website as your storefront, then it stands to reason that your chatbot is your sales associate; it welcomes in new customers, asks if they need help finding anything, and makes observations meant to augment their browsing experience. Like a good salesperson, a good chatbot can point customers in the right direction and ultimately leave them with a great impression of your brand.

But just as hiring a poor-fit sales associate can negatively impact sales, so can having in place a lackluster chatbot experience. As chatbot usage grows across both B2B and B2C brands’ websites, customers increasingly have higher expectations for conversations with bots, and are more likely to be frustrated when chatbots fail to meet those demands. 

Here are four common reasons that chatbots fail, and how to avoid repeating these mistakes.

Unrealistic expectations

A major benefit of chatbots is their ability to resolve repetitive, easily-answered questions without needing to involve a live agent. While chatbots help reduce the volume of incoming inquiries requiring agent attention, this does not mean that brands should expect their chatbot alone to resolve every issue a customer brings to it, nor should chatbots be expected to completely alleviate the need for live agents available via chat or email.

Self-service customer service channels such as chatbots and FAQ articles help to reduce the number of incoming support requests, but there will always be specific cases in which customers need to speak to a live agent in order to resolve their problem. In these instances, it’s in the brand’s best interest to apply the special human touch that agents bring to the customer experience, as this will not only more reliably provide support, but it will also help to resolve the issue in a way that leaves the customer feeling satisfied and confident about their relationship with your brand.

The experience isn’t personalized

Your bot may not be human, but your customers are, and they want to feel like the solutions your brand presents to them are catering directly to their unique needs. In a customer service scenario, it’s likely that whomever is initiating a conversation with your chatbot has already been to your website and engaged with your brand in such a way that you have key details about them documented in your CRM, such as their name and what product/solution of yours they have purchased. Failure to incorporate these details into the chatflow may leave your customers frustrated or feeling undervalued.

Performance metrics haven’t been established or monitored

When it comes to measuring performance, chatbots are like any other marketing, sales, or customer success channel. It’s critical to establish a series of metrics on which to base the success of the chatbot and measure those over time to understand how to improve.

Without determining or actively monitoring metrics to measure chatbot success, brands are setting up their chatbots for failure, as they have no way of understanding if the bot is actively improving or hurting the customer experience. At minimum, brands must pay attention to metrics such as volume of incoming chats, successful resolution rate of conversations handled by the bot, how frequently the bot hands conversations over to live agents, and with what frequency users abandon conversations with chatbots altogether.

The only supported language is English

With 26% of internet users speaking English online, it’s true that English is the most common language on the internet. But that still only represents 1 in 4 internet users—the remaining 74% speak numerous other languages, including Chinese (19%), Spanish (8%), and Arabic (5%).

And with 3 in 4 customers saying that they are more likely to buy from a brand that provides post-purchase support in their native language, it’s no longer viable for global brands to rely strictly on an English-only customer service strategy—including their chatbots.

If your chatbot only supports conversations in English, this denies non-English speaking customers the opportunity to solve their own problems quickly. As a result, they are forced to spend more time and effort by contacting one of your live agents, or worse: they become so dissatisfied with your support experience that they decide to change course and work with another brand that does offer a multilingual chatbot.

Setting your chatbot up for success

When done right, chatbots can be a highly effective way to improve customer satisfaction. It’s important that brands implementing or seeking to improve upon their chatbot experience go into the endeavor with realistic expectations and a set of metrics to measure success. As for the chatbot experience itself, personalization is key.

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