Remember when you couldn’t go a day without the words “there’s an app for that”? The popularity of apps escalated alongside the rise of smartphones. Before long, businesses big and small were rushing to release the hottest thing in business technology, yet a comparative few apps made it into our daily use. We grew fatigued and apathetic toward the concept of having an app for everything, and the trend petered out.
Now, we have chatbots, heralded as the new apps. Except they’re better in every way and every brand needs to have one. Unless, that is, we are just falling into the same trap.
Business Technology Past
A few years ago, apps were the “big thing”. Apps were, and continue to be, incredibly useful and they’re powerful tools that let businesses use the functionality of a smartphone to engage with their audience (i.e., location services, camera access etc.).
However, at the peak of the app hype, every brand was trying to launch one as quickly as possible. To stay on trend, they piled onto the business tech bandwagon. Often, this was regardless of whether an app would help their business or not. The question of value was seldom addressed.
As a result, many of these apps fell flat and came to represent a sunk cost for many businesses. It turns out that separate apps aren’t necessary for a lot of businesses. Rather, more customers are more likely to engage via a mobile-optimized website than a mobile app.
The Present Day
Today, bots are the new trend that businesses are rushing to bring on board. And, like the app hype, the drive to appear current and on trend has caused the widespread adoption of chatbots. The escalating excitement around chatbots began in 2016, and the technology has since continued to rise as artificial intelligence progresses. In fact, it is projected that 80% of businesses will have a chatbot by 2020.
Before long, hyped up claims that “chatbots are like apps, but better” and “chatbots are the new apps” surfaced. While this excitement is not entirely unfounded, it further fueled the rush to adopt chatbots. Brands are piling onto the business tech bandwagon once again.
Avoiding App Apathy
With businesses joining the trend, the app market saw over saturation with the large influx of businesses and a resulting apathy towards them. For many businesses, there was little value offered by apps that weren’t offered by a mobile-optimized website. The difference was, the website could serve users without requiring an application download.
Bots are the current “big thing”. They are often more accessible than apps, with a lower onboarding hurdle. They boast high engagement rates, cut costs, and present a charming novelty, but the benefits of a chatbot must out weight the disadvantages. Unless they’re adopted and implemented correctly, bots are likely to face the same fate as the business app.
Do You Need a Chatbot?
Consider whether you really need a bot. Here are a few key questions to help you get started.
What value will it bring?
Business apps fell short because they rarely brought any new value to customers. So, how is your chatbot going to provide value to your customers? Consider what it will offer that you don’t already. For example, reduced wait times or 24/7 service.
What do you want it to handle?
Chatbots have a wide range of functionality. They can do different things for your business, like customer service, but they can also fail at many tasks. So, what area do you want your chatbot to handle?
Would live chat alone suffice?
Finally, could you offer the same value and processes with a live chat channel? Chatbots are great tools, but they aren’t a replacement for human service. So, if you’re looking to provide out-of-hours service and manage high volumes of conversational FAQs, a chatbot could be beneficial. If you’re looking to offer a real-time chat service, live chat software will likely be the better choice.
Avoid the Business Tech Bandwagon
More businesses could potentially benefit from chatbots than from apps, but this is only when they’re deployed carefully with clear goals in mind. So, take the time to evaluate and understand the value your bot will present your business. Look before you leap on the business tech bandwagon.