As is always the case with new technologies, chatbots have become more affordable and practical as their use has become more widespread in the business world. When chatbots first became a thing, the cost and difficulty associated with designing one made them prohibitive for all but the biggest brand names. Today, even the smallest small businesses can benefit from a chatbot.
Why you need one
Chatbots are useful even for smaller businesses. For one, they free up human resources. People who want to ask a question about your business or inquire about an order, or complain about issues they’re having with a product you sold can initiate a chat session with your company’s chatbot over SMS or a social media messaging platform. For smaller businesses that don’t have 24/7 support, this chatbot could, at the very least, acknowledge a customer’s inquiry and submit a request ticket to human support agents to handle during business hours. A chatbot will also be able to resolve easier issues and answer frequently asked questions without any assistance from humans thanks to machine learning and natural language processing.
Chatbots also have a lot of the same functionality that mobile apps offer but with a number of key advantages. Chatbots are easier to develop and maintain than a mobile application and chatbots don’t require users to go to an app store and download a file which takes up space on their phone since chatbots operate solely on chat-based applications that most smartphone users will already have.
Open-source chatbot projects
Open-source chatbot projects are chatbots that anyone is free to use. The only problem with open-source projects is that they’ll most likely need to be modified in order to work with your company’s vision for the chatbot. Modification will require some knowledge of coding and most small businesses would have to outsource that to somebody for a cost.
Chatbot maker software
Recently, chatbot maker software has been springing up. This software operates a lot like website builders like Wix or Weebly. An advantage to this method is that it requires no coding whatsoever. The software takes care of the coding part for you. You simply use their interface to design your chatbot the way you want and it translates your design into code. This too will require an investment but it will cost a lot less than developing your own chatbot from scratch or modifying an open-source chatbot. Functionality will be more limited than these options however but probably sufficient for the average small business.