It seems like every website has a chatbot nowadays, and if we’re going to be 100% honest with you — and we always are — we don’t think every website truly needs one. But don’t agonize over it: we’re going to give you three questions to ask yourself when you consider a bot. Once you’ve answered all three, you’ll know for sure if you should join the chatbot crowd, or keep it human. Let’s get started!

They’re definitely cool and futuristic, but chatbots have some downsides that you should take into account when deciding if your site needs one or not. For instance, chatbots can affect your site’s load times and performance, as well as how the site looks and runs on mobile devices — and some customers find them annoying to the core, so if you don’t really need one, we recommend you skip it. Less is more, after all.

If, however, you’re not even really sure if you need one or not, take a moment or two and ask yourself the following questions to get clear on the matter before doing anything else.

  1. How many products do I have?

    One of the most popular use cases for a chatbot is to help users make sense of websites that have a large amount of products — in many situations, customers may not know exactly which product or variation is a good fit for their needs. Enter the chatbot: It strikes up a conversation with a user who clicks on it, asking smart questions that ultimately lead the user to a product matching the information the user has ‘fed’ into the bot.

    On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of products or categories of products, you might find that your users know exactly which products they want, or they can find them without a lot of searching. In that case, a chatbot could just make matters more confusing, and it’ll make more sense not to use one.

  1. What type of traffic do I have? Is it primarily mobile or desktop based?

    We touched on this a little bit before, but it really bears repeating. Your website should be mobile-responsive as a matter of current web design best practices — that’s no longer up for debate. But, if you find that your users tend to be business owners who will browse your site from their work desktops and not their phones, you’re less likely to run them off if you install a chatbot.

    One caveat here: as mobile devices continue to improve in terms of functionality and the websites and code that they can handle, this factor will likely change. And of course, there is a small but vocal section of the population who hate chatbots no matter where they’re browsing... just more proof that you can’t please everyone. So, make the best decision you can based on the traffic data you have to work with.

  1. What questions will this bot help answer?

    A chatbot without a nice, strong script is really only capable of babble. Are you sure your bot will have enough to say? Before you answer, consider this:

    It’s a really good idea to map out all of the possible conversational options for your chatbot way, way before you install anything. Too many people get distracted by all the things their bots can do, and don’t pay enough attention to what they will say. “We’ll figure that out later,” they think. But let’s be entirely honest here: later never comes. Ultimately, if you opt to ‘wing it’ like that, you’ll wind up with a wooden-sounding parrot of a chatbot that repeats a few phrases over and over — at best, it’s frustrating for your users. At worst, it drives them away.

    Listing out all of the conversational prompts, responses, and the overall flow for your bot is crucial. Remember, a chatbot is essentially just a very complex flowchart, so make sure you’re keeping everything consistent and that you can move through all the branches of the conversation easily. As a bonus, listing everything out lets you review everything the bot will say, and you can then edit it for tone and diction, giving your bot tons more personality — who said this process can’t be fun?

    If you’ve followed along with our questions, you probably know by now if a chatbot is the right move for your website. Some of you won’t need one at all, and others are probably heading to Google after this to check out all of the best chatbot providers. But if you’re not in either camp, and you’re still kind of confused about whether your site would benefit from a chatbot, just give us a call and we’ll take it from there.

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