Chatbots are here. Why don’t you have one?

It’s no secret that the last two to three years have seen a boom in chatbot technology. From rules-based bots and natural language processing (NLP) “AI”-powered bots to the latest obsession with sentiment analysis (SA), chatbots are well and truly here, and they’re not slowing down. So why don’t you have one?

I admit, I write this from a position of conflict. On the one hand, this is technology I genuinely believe can revolutionise the way that customers interact with businesses; can improve employee experience inside of companies; and, in general, entirely reshape how we think about communicating in a B2C (or even B2B) sense.
On the other hand, Empire State loves building chatbots and we do so for clients – for money. So I don’t blame you for taking this opinion piece with a pinch (or seven) of salt.

I thought I’d start out by touching briefly on a few of the issues or misconceptions we come across when discussing chatbots with clients, and then move to a few reasons why I think you cannot afford not to have a chatbot of your own.


  1. Chatbots are complicated. And AI – what’s that all about?
    Chatbots can be complicated, but they don’t have to be. While “conversational AI” has a number of use cases and the technology is improving all the time, you can still see a great deal of benefit from a “rules-based” chatbot that includes a few value-adding integrations (into your CRM systems, your transactional systems, and so on). Start simple, employ analytics and then use the data you gather to enhance your chatbot over time.

  2. Chatbots are here to take people’s jobs:
    This is a big one. I personally feel that no company has an excuse not to implement a chatbot that handles at least some first-line support or basic query escalation. The reality is that many companies already employ support staff to handle this kind of work. So does this mean technology is here to take their jobs? Absolutely not. My first-ever job was working as a call-centre agent, and there is nothing more soul-destroying than answering the same question, with the exact same answer, for the 37th time in a day.
    It is widely accepted that that kind of work is not fulfilling. Your people deserve better. As your most important asset, shouldn’t your people be focusing on tasks that truly add value to your organisation or your customers? Free them up to focus on more important tasks that allow them to make a tangible difference, and let a chatbot handle the heavily repetitive work.

  3. A chatbot isn’t a real person. I can’t tell if it’s doing a good job or not:
    It’s actually precisely because a chatbot isn’t a real person that you can tell whether it’s doing a good job or not. We (and most providers) build analytics into chatbots, keeping track of every session; every interaction in every session; and, as a result, you can track the performance of your chatbot just as well (if not better) than you can with a human. And there are never any awkward performance appraisals 🙈

  4. People prefer dealing with real people:
    This one isn’t that simple either. While older generations do prefer face-to-face and telephonic conversations, data shows that newer generations do their best to avoid them. Dealing with a chatbot also removes any awkwardness or embarrassment that may exist in a conversation with a person. 
    It also has the upside of reducing direct human contact, which is currently highly advisable.

  5. Chatbots are expensive:
    Yup, this one is true – only contact us if you have a bag of money 💰😜 Again, this isn’t necessarily the case. Chatbots are expensive like apps are expensive; they can be, sure, but depending on the scope and the functionality involved, they don’t have to be.
    Empire State also embraces a number of different commercial models when developing chatbots for clients. You can buy the chatbot outright for a development fee with some monthly maintenance and improvement, or you can pay monthly to license the chatbot or you can pay per conversation. We’re as flexible as the technology itself.

  6. Chatbots have no personality, and the conversational experience is bad:
    It definitely can be, and there are examples of this. A chatbot, however, is a blank canvas for you to paint the personality of your organisation. This shouldn’t be your concern though. Partner with a provider that has expertise in conversational design, linguistics, and editorial skills – like us! 😎

Reasons you cannot afford not to have a chatbot:

  1. The chatbot is available 24/7:
    Traditional business hours are becoming a thing of the past, and customers are becoming more varied with more diverse needs. With a chatbot being available 24/7, your clients can get what they need whenever they need it, without ever having to wait for your call-centre to open.
    Additionally, clients don’t need to take extra time out of their day to visit a customer service representative. Minimising face-to-face interactions is a time-saver for both your customers and your business.
    The changing nature of customer service dictates that you be there for them when and how they need it, not when it is convenient for you. 

  2. The chatbot is available on multiple channels, in multiple languages:
    As I mentioned previously, data consistently shows that modern generations no longer embrace a telephonic conversation the way prior generations did. As such, “meeting them where they are” is going to become a key differentiator for competing companies. If your customers are on Facebook and can get their issue resolved without leaving Facebook, you have a good chance of actually hearing from them – and being given the opportunity to resolve the issue.
    If the customer is forced to communicate with you via one channel, you may only hear from them when they cancel and move to a competitor who is more flexible. Chatbots are easily deployed to your website, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Slack, Telegram and WeChat. WhatsApp is slightly more complicated, but can be done with more time and effort.
    For a country like South Africa, it’s also important to help people in the language they’re most comfortable with. A chatbot can provide a user with a language selection, and can converse with the user in whichever language they prefer.

  3. Chatbots are great at first-line support and basic Q&A:
    I personally feel chatbot technology is perfectly suited to first line support and basic Q&A. How many call-centre calls are similar (or exactly the same)? Chances are good a chatbot can solve three or four of your top 10 most common calls without extensive integration.
    For the rest, a chatbot could integrate into any of your internal systems: ticketing and support; CRM; accounts. If a chatbot can’t help, they can escalate the issue to a human who can (with all the details already collected in one convenient place).

  4. Chatbots can be salespeople too:
    Is your website a little user unfriendly? Is it a bit too information dense? Is the information not always up-to-date?
    Hey, no judgement – it happens! This means that potential leads may have to phone a call centre, leave their details and wait for a salesperson to get back to them. When the salesperson does get back to them, the most basic info might alert the lead to the fact that your offering won’t work for them. Not a very efficient use of time, right?
    A chatbot that is available 24/7 can find out what a lead is looking for, suggest offerings for them to look at, provide useful information and then, if the person is interested, integrate directly into your sales pipeline to have someone call a warm lead. You’ll have a much better chance of closing the sale.

  5. Chatbots can do anything:
    There is sometimes a limited view of what a chatbot is or isn’t. The truth is that a chatbot is anything you want or need it to be – the possibilities are literally endless. A chatbot can do everything from onboarding to conduct a customer experience survey. In almost all instances, a well-developed chatbot will be a piece of technology that helps close the customer experience (CX) or employee experience (EX) gap.

A chatbot can offer a personalised experience to your customers or employees. It can tell the story of your brand in a tone and with a personality that is representative of who you are. And as a bonus, it never gets crabby or has a bad day!

To be clear, chatbots are not a silver bullet. It is not going to cure all your support- or lead generation ills. But, if the investment isn’t significant and you can tailor the experience to align with your goals, what’s stopping you from trialling a chatbot of your own?

But don’t take my word for it; a quick Google will turn up plenty of studies highlighting the positive impact of a well-designed chatbot, and how companies all over the world are embracing the technology.
So the only question is, why aren’t you?


For those of you who are reading this and aren’t familiar with chatbots, we’ve put together a few demos for you to play around with.
This is our support bot.
Our lead generation bot lives here.
And you can view our training bot here.

If you’re interested in investigating what a chatbot could do for your business, get in touch with us at [email protected] and let’s have a chat! Or head over to and have a chat with our chatbot 😊


Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash

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