Have you heard of these Facebook Messenger bots or seen them in action? It’s a very interesting technology that allows a brand to connect directly with their consumers to help them with a problem.

You can order a Domino’s Pizza from their bot or select a bouquet of flowers to be delivered from the 1-800-Flowers bot. Or you can look up a quick recipe on the Whole Foods bot and know which ingredients you need after work. Other big-name brands that use bots include Uber, Lowe’s, Volkswagon, and Budweiser.

While you may be intimidated by these big-name brands using these chatbots, don’t be. Dozens of companies offer a specialized platform that creates these bots for nominal monthly fees. While they all have basic free accounts you can start with, if you want more robust features you’ll have to pay a monthly fee, anywhere from $10 – $99 per month. These platforms and these costs are also for do-it-yourselfers who will customize their own bots. Each company has a support team waiting to help you and answer questions, but keep in mind this is a DIY project unless you have a larger budget to pay one of their specialists to do it for you.

Analyze If You Need a Bot

Before you sign up for a free chatbot account, determine if a chatbot is necessary for your business. Bots primarily handle customer service and sales inquiries, so first examine how many customer service calls or emails you handle. Do you receive multiple calls a day or just once or twice a month? Do you get other calls or inquiries that are not customer service or sales related? You can probably create a bot to handle those calls.

Can you afford a monthly fee? Again, you can start for free with most of these companies however you’ll have access to fewer features and some companies place a watermark on the messages associated with a free account. So, what features do you really need and how professional will it look to clients or prospects to have another company’s watermark on your chatbot? It appears that each of these companies has tiered pricing and allows you to upgrade as you need it.

Do you have the time to create these conversations? You’ll have to play mind reader a bit to anticipate what questions your prospects will ask and you’ll want to craft a warm welcome message. All this takes time unless you hire a ghostwriter to do it for you. Writing will also take you away from your coaching and marketing tasks so you’ll need to determine if writing your bot conversations is the best use of your time.

Can you see the value in having a bot or is this “bright shiny object syndrome?” In other words, are you drawn to purchasing products or trainings because it’s the latest and greatest thing or because it will add value to your business? Investing in a bot – no matter how big or small the price tag – is only worthwhile if it gets used.

Making a Plan for Your Chatbot

One of the best ways to determine if a chatbot is a good investment for your business is to make a plan of action. If you can still close sales using automated customer service, retain customers, and still maintain a high level of service, chatbots may be right for you. Make a plan and weigh the benefits against the costs of using one in your business.