We talk a lot about building websites at V3 Media for a lot of reasons. All of our staff are professionals at what they do, and we’re proud of the work we can accomplish as a team, whether it’s designing a website, putting a new logo together for business cards or providing a hosting plan to our clients.
What we haven’t really talked about is the latest development being applied to websites and businesses overall: artificial intelligence, or AI, and chatbots. These two things are a hot topic of discussion given how they’ve constantly made the list of top marketing trends to consider following in the past year.
We can already see the use of AI in our daily lives. At Save-on-Foods (or Safeway, depending on where you live in Canada), people can choose between automated checkout lanes or with the humans behind the till—the choice is ultimately the customer’s. Pizza Hut also uses chatbots by simplifying the ordering process. Their chatbots are set up to remember the last three personalized orders a customer made before. If the customer wants to order the same pizza again, the chatbot will offer the choice to the customer upon their request. This removes the need to wait for a cashier to help the next person in line or wait while they take another online order; there’s little fuss to worry about. This is an example of AI’s benefits for a business, and when it comes to delivery and retail, they do have their perks.
That being said, AI and chatbots are still in development as an overall marketing strategy as well as a tool for business owners, even to this very day. And we have some legitimate reasons why you, as a business owner, should not rely on them one hundred percent.
Reason 1: They Don’t Think Like Humans Do
The main advantages us humans will always have over machines are huge. We have the ability to be creative, instinctual, emotional, empathic, understanding, and strategic when we must solve problems and learn how to use new technologies. You could argue that AI is also strategic, but that’s because tactics (which AI does have) are often confused with strategy. Strategy is fluid and ever-changing when a human creates a plan; tactics are literally programmed and unyielding to any changes in plans. This lack of strategy can result in a chatbot providing cookie-cutter solutions to customers’ unique situations that don’t fit, rather than applying a unique strategy per each individual problem.
AI’s inability to problem-solve can also escalate an issue a customer may have if they cannot solve it, leaving the customer frustrated and unlikely to recommend the business based on their customer service (or lack thereof, in this example). Human employees, however, can and do apply more critical thinking and problem-solving that machines simply do not have.
Reason 2: They May Not Work if They’re Used or Installed Incorrectly
Machines are only as good as the humans who put them together, and just like us, chatbots and AI can go wrong if they’re not even used or installed correctly in the first place. Not all AI is created equally, either; Facebook’s official launch of their chatbots were reported as buggy, leaving people more annoyed than interested in using them. This is why furthering our education on AI is so important before we apply them to business practices—which, again, may require a human professional’s touch in order to make the AI work properly.
Reason 3: They’re Still Incredibly Expensive
The expense of purchasing and installing AI and chatbot technology for a business is still very high. Building a full chatbot from scratch can cost a business owner up to $150,000! Even the simpler chatbots built using apps can be costly—up to $3,000.
This means if your business is a small one, you would be forced to make adjustments in your budget and if done wrong, you could be cutting out much-needed expenses, such as online marketing or even cutting out your own valuable staff members! Imagine what would happen if the AI and chatbots you installed and paid for were not installed properly and couldn’t solve one of your customers’ problems; the cherry on top would be there was no human staff to help them out, because you couldn’t afford to keep them.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and reconsider this scenario. Does that expense of AI feel worth it?
Bottom Line: People Before Profit
AI and chatbots can actually be a useful tool if they’re installed and used properly. They can complete repetitive tasks and services that a human may not have time to do on the job, and they can help out with simpler orders if a customer already knows what they want without having to repeat themselves.
There are benefits that AI has. The problem is that this technology only works for certain industries such as food delivery, hence our Pizza Hut example, or ecommerce. But when it comes to other services such as healthcare, lifestyle, and even marketing and customer service, AI has a long way to go and using it for these purposes can go awry if they’re used improperly. They could even cost a business valuable customers if things really go wrong—and that’s more costly than buying the technology in the first place.
If AI and chatbots are out of your price range but you still want to make your business more personalized, there are alternative solutions that can be applied to your business’s website. Installing a live chat feature and social media feeds such as Twitter can help your customers stay in touch with you in real time and it gives them the option to ask your staff questions or consult with you virtually if they need immediate assistance. Minimal training will be needed to use these features, too.
As you can see from the above example, this is what AI cannot offer to your customers: possible solutions and alternative ideas to an overall problem a business owner may be facing. Score another one for humans.
Regardless of how you feel about AI and chatbots, you cannot implement either the AI solution or the live chat without a great website in the first place! If a site is what you really need, contact us at V3 Media. If you want to learn more about whether or not AI and chatbots will really benefit your business, feel free to consult with us one on one on the subject. We’re always open to discussing the latest marketing strategies and trends you should consider (so long as you don’t take them all to heart!).