Chatbot Types, Benefits, and Next Steps

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We have seen an increase in demand for live chat and chatbot features on websites. These tools can help solve many of the issues municipalities and organizations face, but there are many different options to choose from. Get in touch below to learn about the tools we have been using lately. 

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We have outlined some of the benefits, options, and best practices to assist you in making your decision.

Benefits of Chatbots

Chatbots can be beneficial for your users and your organization. Some of these benefits include:

  • User engagement - a chatbot provides your users with an additional opportunity to provide feedback and engage with you online.
  • Reduced time spent answering questions - chatbots often answer user questions and therefore free up your internal team.
  • Meets user expectations - chatbots fulfill the expectations for instantaneous feedback and 24/7 customer service.
  • Response consistency - can be achieved by setting up chatbots to provide consistent answers that will improve the users' experience with your brand.

Chatbots options

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) Chatbots
    AI chatbots are typically categorized into two main types: rule-based chatbots and natural language processing (NLP) chatbots.
    • Rule-Based Chatbots
      • Rule-based chatbots work on a predefined tree-like conversation flow that allows the bot to flow logically based on the user’s inputs/choices. The users navigate through the conversation flow by clicking on buttons, menus, and carousels, and answering questions.
      • Rule-based bots are easier to build, and allow you to be in control of the conversation; however, it can take a lot of time upfront to set up the conversation tree.
      • Users cannot ask their own questions and can only enter details when the bot asks for them.
    • Natural Language Processing (NLP) Chatbots
      • NLP chatbots make use of natural language processing techniques to understand sentence structure and then process that information, while consecutively getting better at answering the question at hand over time.
      • NLP chatbots first understand what the intent behind the customer’s question is, and come back with a relevant and contextual answer, instead of relying on a predetermined output text designed by a human.
  2. Manual Live Chats
    • Manual chats are often not considered a "bot" because someone on your team must monitor the platform and respond as questions come in.
    • This is more time-intensive for your team compared to a bot, but this way you can ensure the user leaves satisfied and reaches the answer they are looking for. It also helps your staff to know what issues users are having, then your team can adjust the website to mitigate the problem in the future.
  3. Hybrid Chatbots
    • As the name suggests, the hybrid chatbot uses the best parts of rule-based and NLP, along with live chat functionality, to provide a great customer experience. To be able to build a chatbot, you would need to –
      • Determine the exact tone and personality of the chatbot based on your respective business and use case.
      • Include a human element in the chatbot to ensure comfortable and fluent conversations.
      • The scripting data you use should reflect your target audience, as the conversation design’s success will largely depend on the context and user intent.

"Our chatbot is doing an excellent job of providing information to users that our staff usually do. What was previously a 10-minute conversation with a team member can now be answered in seconds while really providing the 24/7 customer service that people expect."

Jesse Hausner

Application Services Manager, Information Services, City of Delta


Questions to Consider

If you are considering adding a chatbot tool to your website, answer the following questions to better determine which option is best suited for you and get in touch with our team.

  1. What problem are you trying to solve? (e.g., time-related, budget-related, team-related, or customer-related)
  2. What questions are you anticipating? Will it be focused on one topic or various questions?
  3. How much time are you/your team currently spending on this problem?
  4. How much time are you willing to spend managing the chatbot--either up-front or on an ongoing/daily basis?
  5. Could you automate 100% of the process with a bot, or do you need human intervention?
  6. Do you need the chatbot to push/pull data from a 3rd party system?