retail chatbot mistakes

AI Chatbots for Websites – Oops! 7 Mistakes to Avoid


[Updated June 2022]

Customer support chatbots on websites are here to stay. But how do you integrate an easy-to-use chatbot into your customer service offering without making the gravest of mistakes and angering your users?

Although chatbots using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) were invented back in 1966, it wasn’t until a few years ago—and the launch of the Facebook platform and Messenger—that bot designers improved their craft and the chatbot platform really took off. 

Apple’s Siri with it’s voice recognition and voice response also helped introduce the concept of an intelligent chatbot to the world.

But it’s not all rosy when it comes to these virtual AI Chatbots. If not done right, there are risks of using chatbots. We’ll share tips and tell you a few mistakes to avoid, so that your chatbot experience doesn’t turn into a nightmare for your website visitors. 

Let’s back up for a moment, however, and start from the very beginning.

What is an AI Chatbot?

An AI Chatbot is a computer program that simulates human-like live chat conversations with a company’s visitors or customers on platforms such as messaging apps, websites, mobile apps, or the telephone. AI chatbots for support are tech-heavy and are powered by NLP and machine learning software.

This software understands language outside of pre-programmed commands. It learns by analyzing volumes of data, applying algorithms, and using the results to program responses.  Over time, bots are “trained” to understand context through several complex algorithms that involve tagging certain words and phrases. The keyword learning curve is steep, but AI Chatbot technology is up to the task. 

AI Chatbot tools are leveraged by several different business industries, ranging from e-commerce to manufacturing to enterprise to healthcare. It has been widely adopted by customer support teams in particular, as customers love how quickly and efficiently bots can answer questions and resolve issues. Companies even use it via text/SMS messages and on the Telegram platform.

Benefits of AI Chatbots

There are many reasons why this piece of web application technology has become increasingly adopted by businesses. Some notable benefits include: 

  • Cost savings – AI bots can handle simple questions and issues, and only escalate more complex queries to human service agents, protecting your business’ bottom line. Bots can scale your on-line self-service for sure.
  • Time savings – AI bots not only save your customers time by quickly feeding them accurate answers…They also save your service agents’ precious time through audience segmentation! Bots can ask customers to pre-select a certain topic or service department in order to efficiently route the chat directly to the correct service agent. Because they’re online 24/7/365, AI bots keep first response times (FRT) down while keeping customer satisfaction high and neatly organized in your CRM’s contact list.
  • Increased sales – Think of your chatbot as a critical component of your website portal and sales funnel that can deliver relevant info and answers at the most critical time of the buying journey: The decision-making stage. By building a multi-option menu within chat popups, you can add in upselling options and boost lead gen.
  • Improved customer satisfaction – Useful bot experiences with strong visual appeal can factor into increased customer satisfaction scores. Done right, they can elevate customer engagement by delivering seamless solutions and accurate information quickly. Reducing customer effort contributes to premium customer experience. An added bonus? Consumers love the personalized product recommendations and messages that bots offer. Have a website with high traffic? Bots can handle it, so scalability is a key component.

How do I make a chatbot for my website?

Full disclosure: Building an AI chatbot from the ground up can be highly labor-intensive and time-intensive. Depending on the technological aptitude of your organization, you may opt for a drag-and-drop interface vs. building a bot from scratch. 

In today’s world, having a computer science degree (or even an understanding of complex algorithms, scripting, code snippets, APIs, or programming languages) isn’t a requirement for building a bot that can load and live on your website’s landing pages. There are plenty of out-of-the-box options available to you that feature easy-to-use templates and step-by-step documentation. 

That said, these turn-key bots have their limitations, so if you are looking for a more personalized and sophisticated option, you can choose to implement a chatbot using a chat provider’s API. You can also choose to outsource your chatbot function to a third-party service provider who manages the entire development process for you. 

What are some common website chatbot mistakes to avoid?

Let’s move on to the main course. Here are some guidelines and tips for what NOT to do once you have a chatbot up and running on the homepage of your website. 

#1) Not having a plan to let a human help

An easy trap to fall into is thinking a chatbot on your website can do it all, and enable fully automated customer experiences for your business. Big mistake. Automation may be great at answering simple questions quickly on your homepage, but people get frustrated if a chatbot can’t find a curated answer. The solution is to have an easy way for customers to switch to a live agent

  • 23% of consumers still prefer to have a face-to-face interaction when the complexity of the issue increases, such as with payment disputes or complaints. (American Express)

Simplr did some research and looked at how the customer felt after a chat that had human interaction:

  • 15%: Appreciated or engaged, like they really cared about me
  • 30%: Understood or supported, like they knew exactly how to help me
  • 30%: Felt BOTH Appreciated/engaged and understood/supported

On the flipside, only 1% of chatbot communications (without humans) were ranked as “exceptional.” 

The key takeaway here is that when it comes to chatbot design, routing to a human agent for inbound marketing needs is a must-have functionality that can boost customer satisfaction and your bottom line. 

without robust human intervention, a pre-sale "conversation" with a chatbot will frutrate the customer rather than convert them. This is a common mistake with chatbots.

#2) Not thinking first about the pre-sales and post-sales user experience

It’s easy to get carried away with the potential of your one-on-one chatbot and the power of automation. Like all tech tools your business takes on, a chatbot initiative can soon suffer from mission creep where you lose sight of why you are implementing it in the first place. There are many shiny things to distract you (like collecting customer information), so before you get started, keep these questions in mind:

  • What is the problem that the users are struggling with?
  • How can our bot help them solve that problem?
  • What might get in the way of that?

There is proof that robots are best used for very basic intent, such as completing simple requests. Returns, for example, or delivering basic information from your FAQ page, like pricing, payment processes, and important hyperlinks. 

However, there is a lot at stake with pre-sales customer service inquiries. Chances are, a pre-sales chatbot can’t deliver a low-effort experience when a customer is on the verge of converting. This means missed revenue opportunities for your business and decreased lead generation!

74% of users prefer chatbots while looking for answers to simple questions (PSFK).
Don’t let bells and whistles get in the way of a simple interaction, or worse, bungle a pre-sales one.

#3) Trying to fake it = fail

80% of people who have used real-time chatbots report the experience as positive (Uberall). Website visitors are clearly not afraid of pressing the button to use a chatbot widget. But companies are still attempting to dress up their incognito chatbots as a human with a cute name, hoping to fool the customer into thinking they are getting live support. 

Do not do this.

Make sure your consumer is informed they are talking to a robot vs. engaged in live chat with a human support agent. Explain the capabilities and limitations of your bot upfront. Do not overpromise. This will help set realistic customer expectations and cut down on frustration. 

#4) Giving your Website’s AI chatbots way too much personality

This might be the only chance you ever get to create a character and have it live in the real world, interacting with real humans! This awesome power is in your hands, but don’t over do it. You’re not a television producer writing a screenplay, you’re in customer service after all.

The beauty of the drag and drop chatbot platform lies in its ability to have real-time, lifelike conversations and make your target market feel comfortable interacting with it. But don’t take the human touch too far. Do not let the personality take over and get in the way of serving your audience. 

Also think about controlling tone. A lot of chatbot communications are about mundane, boring things. This dull content can be livened up with a light touch from a chatbot, but you would hate to hear jokes when you’re being informed about being past the return date, right? Think about matching the customer service experience your target audience wants and treating them accordingly. 

#5) Not using the best AI chatbot analytics

A lot of companies ignore chatbot analytics but spend thousands on their other digital marketing analytics and CMS tools (like Hubspot) that can also support chatbots. They are completely in the dark when it comes to what works and what doesn’t, simply because they don’t take the time to analyze the technology’s successes and failures. 

Don’t make that mistake and lose visibility.

Your chatbot should be part of your marketing automation strategy. Use your chatbot software to run user tests and listen to user inputs from day one. You’ll be able to analyze how website visitors interact with the bot, where they tend to get stuck, which lines are well-received, which ones fall flat, and where your bot is wasting customers’ time on your website. Think of it as a database full of endless insights!

Trust us, you will not get everything right from the get-go. But analytics data and machine learning can help you optimize your bot over time to make it more engaging, helpful, and fun.

Remember that your chatbot is not a one-off task, but a continuous project that needs constant attention to make it the best it can possibly be.

#6) Not killing your chatbot when it’s not the answer for web chat

Chatbot workflows are a great multi-channel tool for answering frequently asked questions 24/7, consistently injecting your customer conversations with your brand voice, and taking the heat off overworked customer support agents.

However, even though everyone wants to build and design chatbots, they may not be the answer you are looking for.

Hopefully your chatbot fits perfectly into your customer service portfolio and provides people with an added platform for help. But if it doesn’t, you must know when to pull the plug.

If your chatbot is idle most of the time, doesn’t help with conversions, keeps providing the wrong answers, or becomes the frequent subject of Facebook posts and tweets because it provides inappropriate responses that offend your customers, maybe a chatbot isn’t right for you. It’s your call, but keep in mind that there are multiple channels for customer service out there. 

#7) Believing the hype – free chatbot promises and other third-party gimmicks

Some B2B brands promise a super-easy drag and drop chatbot builder. Others offer a free trial as their subscription or sign-up proposal. 

In fact, one chatbot builder’s online advertising currently claims their bots can field up to 80% of your customer inquiries on a typical WordPress or Shopify site. For the record, we are extremely skeptical about this. There is no way to verify what the queries were and how many customers left after a frustrating experience with the bot. 

Most of your customers have bigger questions. You might think a bot is a good resource and answering the customer, but have you thought about the experience it is delivering?

Chatbot software development should consider uses beyond just fielding consumer inquiries. Chatbots can be leveraged to increase lead generation, drive visits to a landing page, augment your mobile app, or complement your marketing strategies. 

Before you click on “free chatbot for website!” Google Ads, explore alternative options and make sure that this free option is living up to your brand’s commitment to excellent customer service and satisfying consumers’ needs. Don’t fall for the gimmicks. 

Which brings us to yet another common question that we can address. 

How can you choose an AI chatbot for your webshop’s needs?

As you select the best AI chatbot for your business, make sure you’re asking yourself these critical questions. Your future self will thank you! 

  • What do I need a chatbot to accomplish? Assess chatbots in relation to your primary business goals. Do you need a chatbot to free up human agent time and energy? Do you need a chatbot to answer simple FAQs about shipping updates or promotional discounts? Do you need to collect basic information such as a customer’s email address to get them in the pipeline for future email marketing campaigns? Depending on your needs, launching a rule-based chatbot might be preferable to an AI chatbot.
  • Does the AI chatbot connect to my customer relationship management (CRM) software? If analytics is important to your business, you’ll want to make sure that these two tools connect seamlessly so you can have insights. There are chatbots that feature integrations with popular CRMs like Salesforce, Zendesk, and more. 
  • Is the AI chatbot pre-trained? Chances are, you’ll want to make sure that your chatbot has some baseline knowledge and curated training so that you don’t have to spend time, money, and internal labor on training this piece of technology to recognize patterns from the ground up. A solution like Simplr will crawl and mine information from your existing knowledge base to augment it’s capabilities.

To sum it all up 

Chatbots are a great piece of technology that are only getting smarter with time. If your brand is interested in generating more leads and boosting your bottom line, deploying a chatbot on the homepage of your website could be a smart move. Common website platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Drupal, Jomla all have plenty of plug-and-play options from many different chatbot companies. 

In today’s always-on world, having a chatbot can easily differentiate your brand from competitors. No matter your business model, chatbots are a technology that should be leveraged to deliver premium customer experiences. They have become a gold standard for satisfying the ever-increasing demands of the NOW Customer.

Are you ready to harness the power of chatbots? Talk to Simplr today! Check out some of the testimonials from our many happy customers!