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December 3, 2019 | By

4 Reasons Chatbots Fail

With so much research on and reasons why (and how) chatbots can add value for businesses and consumers alike, why is it that chatbots have gotten a bad rep? The short answer is poor implementations. The long answer is a bit more nuanced.   

Here are four of the top reasons why chatbots fail and ways to overcome them: 

1. No clearly defined business goals 

Many businesses that deploy chatbots do it as a “Hail Mary” play and believe that just by having a chatbot, their revenue or market share problems will go away, but having a clearly defined business goal is essential for success. For a retailer, a clear goal sounds like “let’s use a chatbot to reduce the number of returns we get, and for a software vendor, a great goal is “let’s use a chatbot to qualify leads for marketing and sales. A surefire way to deploy a bad chatbot is with a poorly defined goal like “let’s close our quarterly revenue gap by using a chatbot instead of email blasts. The more targeted and specific you can be with your goals and the problems you’re trying to solve, the more successful your chatbot will be. 

2. Not using real customer language 

People ask questions in a myriad of ways, and sometimes not in the most direct way. For example, Do I need an umbrella today?” and “Is it raining outside?” are two completely different questions from a syntactic perspective, but they are both pointing to the same intent, which is “Can you help me figure out how to approach the weather? I don’t want to be cold and rainy.” When brands deploy bots, they usually do it by building consensus internally. They workshop ideas internally or usually ask marketing, “how would you ask about this feature” instead of looking at data to see how customers are really asking questions or looking for information. A good way to approach this is by reviewing call and/or chat transcripts or search terms to understand how your customers and site visitors are actually asking questions, and then design your bot around those. 

3. Set them and forget them 

Would you train a salesperson or support rep for a week, then put them on the phone or into the chat queue and never talk to them again? Would you fire them without warning when they fail to meet your expectations? Chatbots are just like your agents – the more you train them and give them the knowledge necessary to be successful, the better they will perform. If you “hire” a chatbot to increase sales, and it isn’t making an impact on sales, chances are you haven’t trained it with good data. If you deploy a chatbot and never touch it again, you are setting yourself up for failure. Effective chatbots require maintenance just like your website, paid advertising campaigns, pricing, etc. 

4. Not personalizing the experience 

There is nothing more irritating for a customer than having to enter all of their information if they’re already logged in or having to repeat everything if they’ve already attempted to solve a problem on a different channel. Successful chatbots leverage data from your other systems (e.g. CRM, order management, ticketing, etc.) to help customers get the answers they need quickly. By integrating these systems, the chatbot can easily provide an order status, for example, without the customer needing to state who they are or what their order number is. Personalizing the experience and taking the burden off the customer can have a significant impact on your success metrics. 

For more tips and real-world examples of how brands are approaching chatbots and working to improve the customer experience, register for our upcoming webinar, Boosting Your CX with Personalization.


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