A Helpful Chatbot is "Best Friend" to Our Website Visitors

February 9, 2018 Marla Schilling

Rocky...our inspiration for chatbot "RockyBot."

In my last post, I discussed the launch of the newest channel of conversation available on our website: live chat. At the time of the launch we were unsure whether or not website visitors would actually use this new channel of conversation – but it didn’t take long for us to see that this channel of conversation is quite popular. The most obvious progression after installing live chat was testing out a chatbot.  

Chatbots are the future. We are seeing them pop up on websites more and more. Mr. Mucus, for example, from Mucinex is available for advice on your cold symptoms. I suppose if talking to a green snot monster replaces a trip to the doctor’s office, I would give it a try! I have seen chatbots on travel sites, real estate sites, banking sites, and more – you name it, they have a chatbot. My personal favorite chatbot is Poncho. This poncho-wearing-fox sends me personalized weather forecasts. I wake up to a message from him every morning, giving me the forecast for my morning run. Not only is he an exceptional meteorologist, but he has some great jokes as well. He is a very clever fox indeed. 

We had a few goals in mind when creating our own chatbot: 

  1. It needs a personality. 
  2. It needs to be able to answer questions accurately and efficiently.
  3. It needs to be easy to use.
  4. It needs to be available 24/7.  

How do you give a robot a personality? 

One of our favorite personalities is one of our beloved office dogs: Rocky, a yellow lab puppy. Rocky is an essential part of our team: he sits in on meetings, happily greets visitors, and has some really good skills (like chewing shoes and fetching tennis balls). So, we named our chatbot after him.

Real Rocky makes important contributions to our meetings.

Meet RockyBot

When programming RockyBot, we made sure to keep everything he said light and playful—just like a yellow lab puppy. For example, he greets visitors by saying “Is there something I can help you with before I fetch my humans?” Get it? “Fetch” his humans!

RockyBot can answer most of your questions

There are two types of chatbots: chatbots with Artificial Intelligence and chatbots that run on rule-based responses. Chatbots equipped with AI are able to “learn” based off of previous conversations, giving them the power to constantly evolve and get better at answering questions. Chatbots that follow rule-based responses answer requests based off of a cycle of “if/then” statements developed from keywords. For example, if a visitor types “I want to learn about your fulfillment solutions,” the bot can recognize “learn,” “fulfillment” and “solutions” to give the appropriate response.  

RockyBot operates off the latter. While he is not as sophisticated as a bot with AI, he can give an overview of Harte Hanks and dive even deeper into the specific capabilities we offer (his favorite service is direct mail because he loves mailmen). He knows the locations of all 32 offices like the back of his paw. He can route specific inquiries to HR, accounts payable, or our list and data team, depending on the question. He also knows how many employees our company has, the address of our company headquarters and is great at keeping updated with our current open positions and can send a visitor a link to an application. 

RockyBot has the ability to not only answer questions, but answer them quickly, saving our visitors a lot of time.  

RockyBot is easy to use

We have all had the same customer service experience: you need an answer, a simple answer.  You scan the website and can’t find it. So, you pick up the phone (in my case, as a millennial, I try to stay away from making phone calls – it is just not my preferred channel of communication) and dial. An automated message comes up and hashes out 6 options. The message finishes but you can’t remember if you needed option 2 or 3. Should you start over or take the 50/50 chance that you need option 3? You choose 3.  It’s incorrect. You have to go back out to the first menu. This is the point you lose patience and start yelling “SPEAK WITH HUMAN” into the phone. The message on the other side mocks you, “I’m sorry, I did not get that.” “HUMAN”.  “I’m sorry, I did not get that.”

You get the point.  Cue the monotonous hold music. 

Imagine RockyBot as the greeter of our online store, and just like in a boutique, he engages with anyone who enters. If the visitor doesn’t want help right in that moment, he lets them know he will be “chewing his bone” if they need him. If the visitor decides they have a question, he is patiently waiting at the lower right-hand corner of the webpage. 

Since RockyBot is only a puppy, there are questions he can’t answer. In cases like these, he will transfer the conversation, with all the information he gathered, to a human who is ready to help. No need for the visitor to repeat any part of the conversation. The best part is, if you’re not at your computer, RockyBot is just as easy to use on your iPad, tablet, or smartphone. 

RockyBot works overtime

Unlike other puppies (including real Rocky), RockyBot never needs sleep. Therefore, when our humans sign off for the evening, we can count on him to assist our visitors. With the ability to handle multiple chats at once, he is able to provide value and satisfaction to our visitors when the human agents are not.  

RockyBot has been an integral part of our customer engagement strategy and has opened up a channel of communication that many of our visitors use. As we continue to learn how our visitors are engaging with him, he is continuously updated to deliver more helpful and valuable responses. Stop by our site today and chat with him!  

About the Author

Marla Schilling

Marla Schilling, Marketing Manager, focuses on digital marketing, demand generation and marketing communications. She earned her BS at Ithaca College, with studies in Health Sciences and her Master’s at the University of Northern Colorado, with studies in Exercise Physiology.

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