Conversational user experience design is all the rage right now, with listings for VUI designers popping up on job boards and digital assistants like Alexa cementing themselves as fixtures of the American household. But conversational UX isn’t just limited to entirely voice-based user interfaces—its applications extend to more traditional web designs as well.
We see this most explicitly with chatbots, those automated messengers that act almost as virtual secretaries when you visit a website, helping users complete basic tasks and serving as the first point of contact for customer service, marketing, or sales needs.
Their level of artificial intelligence varies, but all chatbots mimic human speech patterns and behaviors to simulate conversation with a real person. The idea is to provide at least a semblance of a human experience, something more empathetic than what a user might encounter in colder customer service channels, like an automated phone bot.
Chatbots are popular (you may have noticed ours at the bottom right-hand corner of the page), and there’s no shortage of available options out there, each with their own level of intelligence, customizability, price point, and even specific use case.
If you’re hunting for the right one, say no more—Codal has implemented countless chatbots into the websites we’ve created, so we have more than a basic understanding of the chatbot landscape. And on top of that, we’ve asked some other folks what bots they prefer as well. Here’s a few of our favorites.
We’ll start with the obvious: the chatbot we employ for our own website, Drift. One of the most popular options on the market today, Drift specializes in chatbots built for sales & marketing applications, offering features from calendar integrations and appointment bookings to lead qualification and email campaign integration.
Best of all, it understands its limitations. Drift automatically handles the rote minutiae of customer service and lead generation, then routes the user to a human when a real person is needed on the other end. Its routing functionality is fairly robust too—you can even send an existing lead to a specific sales rep if they’re assigned in your CRM.
Codal is far from the only business relying on Drift. “In 2019, we decided to go for a dedicated chatbot service that offered more powerful analytics like automatic lead qualifications and complex workflows,” says Cristina Maria, marketing executive at job management company Commusoft. “We chose Drift for one particular reason: the option to create chat landing pages that would capture a lead’s details through conversations rather than by simply filling in a form.”
With all of that functionality, you can probably guess Drift’s tradeoff: the price. Their packages that include chatbots start at $500 a month, but they do offer standard and even free services as well.
If you’re running an online store, you’ll want a chatbot that can connect seamlessly with your eCommerce platform. Enter Tidio, which boasts integrations with Shopify, WordPress, Wix, HubSpot, and more.
Tidio’s chatbots don’t boast a high-level of intelligence—they’re almost just a simple live chat with a rerouting service. But the automation it does offer can be a huge boon for online retailers, especially how it easily allows users to collect data on frequently asked questions, and adjust both the bot and their other content accordingly.
“We’ve found that many of our customers have questions about our products, and we’ve been able to dramatically increase our conversion rate by answering their questions on the spot,” says Mason Ghrannie, vice president of CBD R US. “In addition, the chatbox [sic] has also allowed us to gather data about the most asked questions by our customers. As a result, we’ve been able to optimize our website content by answering questions our customers are frequently asking.”
Like Drift, Intercom offers a slew of different bots for sales and marketing, and at a bit of lower price point too. They also provide several different communication channels to get in touch with your customer or lead, and even have a basic CRM functionality (though it’s certainly not as robust as other off-the-shelf CRMs).
“As a coworking space, potential members have many questions on pricing, amenities, and locations,” says Todd Goldstein, CEO and founder of coworking space LaunchHouse. “While we have those answers on the website, it has been much easier for our staff to answer the questions directly when the website visitor has them rather than waiting for us to receive those questions via email or phone. What we also like about Intercom is the ease at which we can include documents in the answer and all of our chat messages are saved in the Intercom dashboard and a connected email account for review later.”
If you’re looking for the top-of-the-line chatbot, a high-end solution for enterprises like RBS, Virgin Atlantic, and T-Mobile, look no further than Live Person. Though it also offers bots geared towards marketing & sales teams, Live Person is ideal for industries that place a strong emphasis on customer service, like airlines, banking services, travel companies, and insurance firms.
The conversation bot can communicate via SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google RCS, and more; on top of that, its AI is highly advanced compared to the rest of what’s available on the consumer market. Live Person bots can answer FAQs, schedule appointments, capture leads, reset passwords, and even fulfill orders.
If none of those functions apply to you, no worries It also offers a high level of customization, so companies can easily build and configure their own bot to fulfill their exact use cases. Live Person isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for, and the savings it yields may just cover its cost—the company claims its bot costs one-tenth of what you’d pay a human to do.
The right chatbot for your website is highly contingent on your desired use cases, your industry, and of course, your budget. Though the chatbots mentioned in this post are decently representative of the options out there, we’ve still only scratched the surface of the entire market.
It’s an industry that’s only growing in size as more and more companies realize they need automation in their customer service channels. Chatbots are versatile, cost-effective, and relieves some of the most tedious parts of a marketing or customer service job. Plus, they engage customers the way they want to be engaged: effortlessly, through the communication channels they’re comfortable with.
If you read this article and feel like none of these off-the-shelf solutions are right for you, there’s still hope yet. As a software development agency with ample experience implementing and configuring chatbots, Codal can build out a custom chatbot tailored to your business. By constructing from scratch, we can ensure it meets your company’s exact needs and requirements. Consider it another tool in your toolbox towards completing your short- and long-term business goals.