What to Know When Selecting a Chatbot Vendor

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There’s no denying that automation is top-of-mind for consumer brands right now. In fact, analysts estimate that around 40% of brands are using some type of automation at the moment… a figure that will surely grow with the demands of the always-on “NOW Customer.”

Here’s where things get tricky: On one hand, automation is becoming a key asset in industries such as ecommerce. On the other, lots of existing chatbot solutions are falling short of helping companies keep customers feeling valued, loyal, and inclined to spend. In the era of NOW CX, it’s more important than ever to invest in solutions that engage customers and generate revenue.

A History of Underwhelming Chatbots 

The main reason why chatbot vendors have a poor reputation is that they consistently overpromise and under-deliver to their customers. They routinely tout sky-high take and deflection rates and then leave their customer with little progress to show and room to grow their investment. 

The problems generally arise when an organization over-indexes on automation at the expense of issue resolution. It’s easy to be lured in by the promise of speed and around-the-clock customer support, then blinded by the cost savings. So much so that you might lose sight of the long-term implications for the quality of your customer experience, the level of customer effort, the effects on customer loyalty, and the impact on revenue.

When the way you employ bots amounts to little more than one more way to deflect volume away from your customer service representatives, automation becomes just one more cause of customer neglect.

Know the Categories of Chatbots

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to chatbot automation. We’ve grouped them into three distinct categories:

1- Out of the box: These are chatbot vendors who claim to be largely self-serve and “out of the box.” This solution is one of the more affordable automation options, but, potentially, comes with the most risk.

2- Platforms: Platform-based chatbot solutions give companies the tools they need to build their own conversational bots. At times, these vendors offer technical support. However, in-house specialty expertise such as speech scientists are often required for deployment and continued management.

3- Professional services: These are the companies that are dedicated to building high-functioning, conversational bots.

As with all choices, there are pros and cons to each. To understand the strengths and challenges with each (and which companies provide which service), download our How to Select an Ecommerce Chatbot Vendor guide.

Understand the Human-Bot Connection

The ideal balance between humans and technology is not static over time. With automation and artificial intelligence continuing to improve, chatbots will become increasingly capable of handling more and more complex conversations, reading customer intent and understanding context, and even approximating empathy and mirroring human emotions.

When you consider that just 10% of typical company’s consumer inquiry volume can be handled by a bot today, the hybrid staffing model might look something like this:


In the era of NOW CX — a pivotal moment when more brands are recognizing the value of CX as a revenue-generator— we need automation to help us be more human, not less. The key to success is to better understand the automation landscape specifically in ecommerce.

A Resolution on Responsible Automation

Don’t get us wrong: We’re not saying that there isn’t a time and place for retail chatbots and other automation solutions. There certainly is. After all, Gartner has found that 70% of consumers use self-service options at some point in their resolution journey. Supporting key digital channels like chat and email through automation is one means to better meet the NOW Customer on their terms and at their time.