Does my HVAC website really need a chatbot?By Randy Legair on Friday, October 9, 2020
Can one of those little bot avatars really move the needle?
During this time of economic uncertainty, your HVAC company may start looking for new ways to make the most of every visitor that happens to come across your website. One method you may have read about? Implementing a chatbot.
In this article, we’ll discuss chatbots and what they can do for HVAC businesses. Do you need this flashy, new marketing technology?
What is a chatbot?
Defining a chatbot is pretty simple: it is a piece of code installed on your website to automate common interactions that might normally happen in live chat or e-mail communication. Chatbots commonly appear in the form of a small avatar in the bottom right corner of a website. When a user clicks on the avatar, a small pop-up chat window appears based on settings you chose during installation. This “bot” then begins a conversation with the site visitor.
The bot comes equipped with a set of predefined “conversations” of your choosing and attempts to simulate a conversation one might have with a live chat representative. If the conversation takes a path unknown to the bot, the bot can attempt to redirect the conversation to a live representative at your company. Chatbots are designed to be a convincing real-time stand-in for live conversations, especially conversations that would typically take much longer to get started.
Why does my HVAC company need a chatbot?
Chatbots can benefit your business in several ways. We’ve listed the most common reasons an HVAC company would adopt a chatbot below.
24 Hour Engagement
The most obvious advantage of having a chatbot installed on your HVAC website is that once implemented, the visitors to your site will always have a way to have their questions addressed, no matter what time they visit. Unlike human operators, a chatbot never sleeps and can engage customers at any time of day. As mentioned before, chatbots are designed to convincingly mimic live chat. They should give your visitors the feeling of talking to a real person. Surveys show that while customers are more inclined to talk with a human, they will still chat with a bot if it saves them time.
Most HVAC websites today offer support through a contact form, which serves as an intermediary between the visitor and a real person at your company. Starting the process this way draws out the interaction. The customer needs to wait until you become available to provide insight related to their question, and you need to take time out of your busy schedule to provide a reply to the customer. Many of the questions that your website visitors ask revolve around the same subjects. (This is why many websites include a page dedicated to “Frequently Asked Questions.”)
Chatbots build on this common customer service pattern by giving your customer nearly instantaneous access to the information they want, in a way they feel comfortable with. This leads us to the next reason you will want to install a chatbot onto your website: lead generation!
Think about how you prefer to interact with the businesses that you use. If you have a question, would you prefer to get the answers the moment you ask them, or a while later? Almost anyone answering that question will respond “right now!”
What about where you get your answers; would you prefer to talk to a real person or a computer-generated series of responses? Most people would much prefer to talk to a real person.
Those facts are what make chatbot lead generation so successful. Visitors to your site will see the chat avatar and click it in order to start a conversation with a “real” person instead of aimlessly scrolling through your site. Because the user has a high level of faith a “real” person will be able to quickly give them the exact information they need, there is a very good chance that the user will be willing to provide information that would help them get answers.
For this reason, chatbots strive to emulate a “live representative” from your company. While your visitors feel like they’re having a standard conversation, they are essentially filling out a lead form (one they may have never otherwise encountered).
Once a visitor provides their information, the chatbot can then use that information to find the answers that best fit the visitor’s question. If the answer is something that is not readily available to the chatbot, you now have the information necessary to reach back out to the visitor later and provide the answers they need. Instead of a visitor leaving your site because they couldn’t find the answers they wanted right away, you now have an opportunity to reengage with them!
If a visitor feels they’ve gotten their questions answered quickly and accurately, they will feel justified in providing the information requested by the chatbot. It is a win-win situation; the visitor gets the assistance they need, and you get lead info and a potential customer!
Final Thoughts on HVAC Chatbots
If you want to improve the visitor experience on your website and generate more leads, implementing a chatbot can help. There are many chatbots available that offer a wide range of additional features such as automated lead entry or AI-assisted conversations. Prices range from $0/month to more than $1,500/month. While chatbots all pretty much do the same thing, you may want to pick a chatbot service that offers ample support (instead of simply settling for a free option). As this is a new technology (not just to you but across the internet marketing world), there will be points where you will likely need to ask for assistance.