What Is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is a piece of software that can be programmed to converse with people via chat messages. When added to your website, it helps your customers get information, complete online purchases and have access to a self-service helpdesk. The chatbot is available 24/7 to reach out to your website’s visitors. You can use it to capture their attention, start a conversation, resolve queries, find new customers and get better conversions.

To put it simply, a website chatbot is like a digital front desk representative that welcomes customers to your store and offers them the help they need.

Modern internet users are already familiar with artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots. They find these friendly chatbots easy to talk to, and efficient at getting them all kinds of help – from pulling out relevant product information, all the way to solving technical problems – without having to wait for human assistance.

Chatbots exist on different platforms such as websites, instant messaging apps, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and more.

What changes for your website when you create a chatbot?

When a visitor arrives at a website, there is a small window of opportunity for him to make a decision (buy a product, use a service, place a request for a follow-up, etc.). But just because the website has a lot of information doesn’t mean that it is easy for the visitor to find what he needs.

Websites are designed for storing and presenting information. You will often find website menus that are packed with different categories, products and services. But when need to find something as quickly as possible, these menus can be hard to navigate. In fact, 90% of visitors leave websites without taking any action.

Enter chatbots!
A chatbot engages your website’s visitors 24/7 and gets their attention right from the start. All they have to do is talk to the chatbot to get their questions answered, find help navigating the website, and remove any obstacles preventing them from making a purchase. They can use their own words to ask a question and instantly get the answer they are looking for. In short, a website chatbot can increase conversions of new customers.

Different types of chatbots

Before you can build an effective chatbot, you need to know its purpose. There are many variations of chatbots. Each has its own specific process flow designed to achieve a specific business goal. But generally speaking, we can categorize most chatbots into one of the following three types:

1. Lead Generation Chatbot

A lead generation chatbot reaches out to every visitor on your website 24/7, answers questions and finds new customers without the need for a human operator. It gets the names, phone numbers and email addresses of leads and sends you these contact details so you can close the sale. It can respond to all presales questions, and even learns from visitor interactions to help you improve your answers.

This type of chatbot is highly popular for generating car dealership leads, school registration leads, medical services leads, professional services, B2B leads, and ecommerce sales leads. Businesses using a lead generation chatbot have seen their leads increase by up to 4 times.

Lead generation chatbot conversation example:
Here is an example of a conversation between a lead generation chatbot and a visitor on a car dealership website.

Chatbot: "Welcome to our car dealership! How may I help you?"

Visitor: "I am looking for a secondhand vehicle"

Chatbot: "Our dealership specializes in quality used cars that we handpick, inspect and maintain ourselves. Are you interested in a specific brand or model?"

Visitor: "Do you have Ford cars available?"

Chatbot: "We have different models of Ford cars such as Mondeo, Focus, Fiesta, Mustang Raptor and more. One of our representatives can talk to you about your requirements and make a recommendation. Would you like to get offers for Ford used cars?"

Visitor: "Yes"

Chatbot: "I will be happy to help you get offers from our team. Please type your phone number."

Visitor: "123-456-789"

Chatbot: "Thank you, I have saved your phone number. What is your name?"

Visitor: "David Davidson"

Chatbot: "For us to provide you with the best offers, can you please tell me what your budget is?"

Visitor: "$5,000 to $7,000"

Chatbot: "Thank you. One of our representatives will contact you as soon as possible."

2. Ecommerce Chatbot

Ecommerce website owners use chatbots to engage with their website's visitors and keep them from leaving the website. By answering the visitors' questions, an ecommerce chatbot removes obstacles and drives new customers to complete purchases online.

This type of chatbot is popular among all types of ecommerce websites, SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies, travel agencies, cinemas, and more. An ecommerce chatbot can increase your online sales from existing traffic by as much as 300%!

Ecommerce chatbot conversation example:
Here is a sample conversation between an ecommerce chatbot and a potential customer on a footwear store’s website.

Ecommerce Chatbot: “Welcome to the ABC Shoes website! How can I help you?”

Visitor: "How do I know what is the right shoe size for me?"

Ecommerce Chatbot: “All our featured brands have a Size Chart to help you find the right fit for your footwear. You will find the chart on each brand page below the available sizes. Do you need further assistance?"

Visitor: "What happens if the size I ordered is wrong? Can I return the product?"

Ecommerce Chatbot: “You can return or replace the items you have purchased in any of our stores around the country within 60 days of purchase. To read more about our Return and Exchange Policy click here: Returns and Exchanges"

Visitor: “What are the delivery options?”

Ecommerce Chatbot: “We provide 3 delivery options for online purchases:
1. Collect from store – Free, up to 2 days from online order.
2. Post Delivery – Free, 7-10 business days.
3. Express Delivery – $10 for express delivery to your doorstep, 2-3 business days."

3. Customer Service Chatbot

A customer service (support) chatbot acts as an automated 24/7 support representative on your website. It can answer hundreds of questions instantly without the need for a human operator. By learning to respond to all frequently asked questions, it reduces support enquiries reaching your phone or email. In case a customer has a complex or atypical issue that the chatbot can’t solve, it connects them with human support through a built-in form or LiveChat intervention.

This type of chatbot is a popular website feature for higher education, government agencies, healthcare platforms, and a variety of other online services. It is highly effective at providing technical support, troubleshooting and off-hour resolution with results that include up to 80% reduction in phone calls and emails.

Customer service chatbot conversation example:
Here is what a conversation between a customer service chatbot and a student on a university website looks like.

Chatbot: “Hello, and welcome to the University Support Desk. How may I help you?”

Student: “I need help with my studies”

Chatbot: “There is a wide range of learning support available at our University. I will be happy to help you with questions about our Academic Learning Centre, the UniLibrary, Self-Help Resources for Students, and much more. What kind of help do you need?"

Student: "I need help with referencing my assignment"

Chatbot: “If you require advice on referencing, check out our webpage and download your FREE referencing guide here: Referencing Guide
You will also be able to submit your draft for feedback on your assignment’s structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling and referencing.
Do you need any additional help?”

Student: “Is there a referencing style I should follow?”

Chatbot: “You will be able to check what referencing style to use for each unit in the Unit Profile, which can be found in the Handbook by searching for the unit and clicking your Profile link. If you still need help you can click here to contact us: Contact Us

Student: "Contact Us"

Chatbot: “Need help? We’re here for you! Please fill the contact from below and we will get back to you.”

As an ultra-efficient, quick-learning, user-friendly conversation tool, there is a lot that a chatbot can do for your website. The key is to know what kind of chatbot you need and how best to leverage it for your business.