Chatbots vs Humans: How to Determine the Time & Place for a Tool Versus a Friendly Neighbor

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Chatbot marketing is a tactic that allows you to always engage in customer service; even when you are personally away from your phone or computer. A chatbot is a computer application that is pre-programmed to respond to your visitors; when using the help of artificial intelligence, your chatbot can also ask appropriate questions and provide human-like responses. 

Brands and companies use chatbot almost as a virtual assistant; and can connect the program not only directly to their website but to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc. There are many benefits of using a chatbot, including saving time and money while still offering 24/7 support, speeding up payment processes, boosting engagement, and pulling in data for analysis or lead generation. 

However, just like humans, chatbots are not perfect. Each company will have different needs and interactions with customers. For example a retail company may be able to set up their bot to take orders, ask for sizing or measurements, etc. where a more service-based company, such as a law firm, may get a wider variety of questions or needs that are too broad to be answered by a bot. 

When setting up a chatbot, you need to take into consideration your customers’ needs in order to alleviate any risk of upsetting those who want to speak to a person, or risk having your chatbot provide responses that are not appropriate to the questions asked, leading to frustration. How do you decide when to be a friendly neighbor to your site visitors and guests, versus setting up a bot that can provide answers outside of your usual 9-5 window? 

We put our thoughts to the test by communicating with the chatbot linked to a local businesses website, Lunchpool, which is a virtual networking platform that was founded by a St. Petersburg local. Lunchpool uses Smallchat, which is a bot service that is connected through Slack, so the messages go directly to a Slack team channel; which is an app that can be opened on your phone or on your desktop.

We were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a sleek looking bot, and asked to share our email address for follow up. Within minutes, we received a personal message directly from the Lunchpool founder, Alex Abell, himself! This is a great example of how to determine the best timing to shift from a bot to a human; but still use a bot to intake your first few messages, saving the team time and providing a positive experience.

As self-admitted nerds on chatbot marketing, our team at Digital Neighbor has utilized a few different techniques both on our own website and when working with our clients. Our biggest piece of advice for companies setting up a bot is to make it as transparent as possible, letting your customers know they are speaking with a bot and that a human will be helping them as soon as possible.

Bots are great for drip-chat techniques, weeding out the questions that can be easily asked and recorded, allowing the customer service representative or the live responder to have information before speaking to the customer that can help prepare them for a more streamlined conversation.  
If you are curious how a bot can benefit your company, or if chatbot marketing will be worth a try for your business, send a note to our chatbot named Roger, and we’ll be in touch soon to help answer the question of Chatbots versus Humans!

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