Live Chat v ChatBot Systems

Chat isn’t the future of revenue generation and customer engagement, it’s here now and you are missing out if you are not using it.  In coaching the next generation of entrepreneurs,  they recognise that this is the future of customer interaction.  As a result, I’ve been looking at what type of chat works and potential free solutions for Startups and SMEs.

The article “The Power Of Live Chat: 5 Surprising Statistics That Show How Consumers Want Their Questions Answered” by Nicolas Cole outlines nicely the trend towards chat being available 24/7 and that customers prefer a live person to a ChatBot.  This presents a challenge to startups and smaller businesses as they cannot afford to have a live person available on chat 24/7 and a fully automated chatbot is not the customer’s preference.

The difference is in engaging new customers as opposed to serving existing customers.  If you agree that future potential customers need that connection to a real person by chat to establish trust in your product or service before they buy and you cannot afford to have a talented live people available on chat 24/7,  you need to accept that there will be some unavailability for live chat, which goes against the expectation of 51% of your potential customers (according to this report).  Yet if you put a lot of work into entities and intents that make full ChatBot automation worthwhile, by using a free service such as Dialogflow, you risk alienating potential customers because 44% rated live chat with a real person as the most important factor you can offer (according to this report).

I believe that live chat with limited operating hours and basic ChatBot automation or canned responses are the way to go for the startup.  It fits what a startup is about; flexibility and agility.  As a result I’ve been trying out two service, both work at the free level and you can add functionality later if they work out.

The first one you should consider is Facebook Live Chat integration by Zotabox.  It works if you have a system like WordPress or if you can insert a snippet of code into your site.  Everything is managed at Zotabox’s site after that.  All you need to do is link your Facebook Page to their system, enable Facebook Messaging and you can use live chat on a computer browser on Facebook or on your mobile device using the Facebook Page Manager app.  I’m using it on this site at the time of writing this and the only down side I’ve noticed is that sometimes there is a delay in receiving messages on the Facebook Page Manager mobile app.  Added bonuses are the extra tools that Zotabox offer for free and that you can develop some ChatBot automation into your chat using facebook’s system.

The second one you should try is the more business-like SalesIQ by Zoho.  This service also requires you to add a snippet of code to wherever you want the Live Chat to appear.  Facebook is not involved in this setup and you user their web-browser based console or their dedicated mobile app to chat with people.  What is very good about this service are the analytics, pre-prepared canned responses you can use and the integration of Google Translate that automates the translation of chat.  We all know that Google Translate isn’t great but I tested it with a Dutch speaker, I only chatted in English, they only chatted in Dutch and while you could tell it was a translation, the experienced was surprisingly good.

I still intend to take a look at Botsify too, to have a blend of ChatBot automation and hand-off to live person when the opportunity presents itself, and will post again about that or any others tested.  Do you have any to recommend?  Comment below.