Acobot Live Chat Robot is a plugin for WordPress that promises to add a live chat robot to your website in under three minutes. If the premise of a chat robot seems alien to you, don’t worry. I must admit that I had zero prior experience with chat robots until testing Acobot out.
Essentially, the plugin allows you to offer support to your website visitors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; whether you are there or not. The robot can respond to visitors questions via your website though in order for it to do so you need to train it up i.e. inform it of common questions and provide an answer to each one. The idea is that the plugin will save you a lot of money as you won’t have to hire people to provide suppor. Plus, visitors can get support at any time of the day.
In order to use the plugin, you need to sign up to the Acobot service. It’s free to sign up and only takes a minute to enter all your details.
Once you have entered the URL of your website, a diagram will appear that advises you to click on the install link at the top of the page.
Lastly, you need to go to the plugin settings area and insert the activation key that was specified on the Acobot website.
Once the service is active on your website, you will see the chat box at the bottom right hand corner of your website. You can now use your chat box but if you try to train the robot, it asks you to do so on the main Acobot website.
Training Your Chat Robot
Training your robot up is very easy. You simply need to ask questions via the chat box. The answers that the robot gives you are poor initially. You change answers by entering >> and then typing the response you would prefer to use.
The more questions you ask, the more reliable the answers will be. What surprised me was that you don’t have to specify an answer for every single topic, as generic answers will be displayed for common questions. For example, my third question to the robot was ‘Do you offer discounts?’. I assumed it would have replied with ‘I don’t know’ though Acobot actually responded with ‘I will check with my colleagues to see if we can offer you a special discount. What is your email address?’.
As this was my only third question, I can only assume that Acobot divides questions into two categories. Queries that are specific to your business will have to be explained to the robot. For example, telephone numbers, queries regarding your topics etc. The robot seems to try and deal with generic questions that are applicable to all websites and businesses itself. You can change the answers given and provide an answer more suitable to your website however it’s good to see that Acobot handles common questions for you.
Apart from the field to enter your activation key, there are no settings in the plugin settings area; everything is controlled from Acobot.com. One of the most useful pages on the site is the chat log. It shows you all the conversations that you have had so far. Questions and answers can be modified directly via this page. This is useful when you want to go back and improve your questions or answers.
Acobot is free to use however there are a number of premium plans available if you want to remove Acobot branding.
- Pro 200 – 200 chats at just $29/month
- Pro 400 – 400 chats at $49/month
- Pro 1000 – 1,000 chats at $99/month
- Pro 2000 – 2,000 chats at $199/month
- Pro 5000 – 5,000 chats at $499/month
- Pro 10000 – 10,000 chats at $999/month
I can see the benefit of businesses upgrading to a premium plan. Many website owners won’t want visitors to know that their ‘live chat box’ is entirely automated. I’m sure many of you will be happy to keep the branding to save a few bucks though.
From the limited testing I did with Acobot, it seems to work really well. I must admit that I was really sceptical about the whole concept of a chat robot being used to provide support before I tried Acobot out.
I don’t believe that it’s the perfect replacement for a real chat box for many types of websites. Retail websites in particular would be better off using real support staff as customers could get pissed off pretty quickly if they realised they were talking to a chat robot. It could work well with many other types of websites e.g. a software website.
The thing is, the vast majority of questions from visitors will cover the same topics. So if the chat robot is trained properly, visitors wouldn’t even have to know that their questions are being answered automatically by a service. Why lie to your users though? If I was using Acobot I would be open about the fact that questions weren’t being answered by a reason person. For example, on your contact page you could ask visitors to contact you via your contact form or ask their question directly to your automated chat box.
My initial scepticism regarding Acobot (and all chat robots for that matter) is that it essentially performs the same job as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. An FAQ page is a user friendly way of answering common questions for visitors. Acobot performs the same job but whereas an FAQ page is static, Acobot is interactive.
Acobot may not be the perfect replacement for an FAQ page however it could be a useful addition to one. The chat box is shown on every page on your website so there’s a higher chance of visitors asking questions.
If you are looking for a way of providing live support to visitors when you are offline, I recommend giving Acobot a try. I wouldn’t recommend using it as your only support option but it’s worth trying out in conjunction with your existing setup. It’s also worth noting that the chat box is mobile friendly so it looks good on smartphones and tablets too.