If you don’t have upwards of $150K to hire your own programmer to develop your Facebook Messenger bot, taking the do-it-yourself approach is acceptable to integrate this technology. It’s a win-win situation for both you and your customers. They will receive immediate answers to their questions when they activate the bot on your Facebook page and you will improve your authority status by implementing fairly new technology into your customer service process.
How to Find a Chatbot Vendor
A simple Google search will give you dozens of companies that offer chatbot services. As always, do your own research and due diligence before signing up with a company. In general, they all appear to offer a free account and then tiered paid accounts as the amount of features increases.
A free account is great to fool around and experiment with before you make a final decision. You can test out multiple companies with free accounts and make a comparison. While you should include price as part of your final analysis, test out their customer service departments. They most likely have bots to help you and you can get a feel for the process based on their own bots.
Look at the fine print with your free account. You will definitely have limited features but you may also have a watermark stamped on your bot, which may not be the professional or sophisticated look you want for your brand.
These companies are affordable because you do all the work but they should also have technical support teams to assist you. Ask if there’s a charge to use their support desk. Support may be free for a couple of questions or there could be a charge to answer very technical questions. Always ask to avoid hidden charges.
Look for recommendations for a vendor, either from your own business associates or mentors. If no one in your circle is using bots yet, check out the company’s referrals or testimonials prior to signing. Look on their site for the company logos of their clients but don’t be swayed; just because large corporations can afford the big bucks for advanced programming doesn’t mean the technology is forbidden to solopreneurs. Hence the reason for providing the DIY, drag-and-drop version.
Upgrade as Your Business Grows
Most programs with tiered plans allow business owners to upgrade as they need instead of waiting until the end of a contract. Always ask, just in case your chosen vendor works differently. Also, clarify how many subscribers are allowed at each tier. Bots are much like email opt-ins; your customers need to grant permission to interact with the bot, therefore they become subscribers. The more subscribers you attract, the more expensive the bot becomes.
As you grow and your tier account increases, however, so should your features. Never just “set it and forget it” when it comes to technology; always check your accounts and if you have access to advanced features, use every last one of them to get the most for your money.
Create a Plan Before Creating Your Bot
Even though creating a bot using a drag-and-drop platform is easy, you still need a plan to make your bot useful. Your clients won’t have patience if the bot can’t answer the simplest of questions. Take some time to write out your responses and be sure to have time set aside to reply in real-time to their questions.