Building a digitally accessible front door with chatbots

You can’t always be there for your customers. But a chatbot can.

A chatbot is more than a means to cut contact centre costs. From a CX perspective, a chatbot makes for a more digitally accessible experience on your website. And, with accessibility a cornerstone of great service and support, this benefit should not be underestimated.

Here’s how the always-on, readily available nature of chatbots lends itself to digital accessibility.


What does ‘digitally accessible’ mean?

Accessibility is more than a luxury. It’s a legal necessity that applies to your digital offering as much as it does your physical stores.

This means that you need to make sure your online front door is digitally accessible. Being digitally accessible means making your online offering as easy to use and understand as possible. And it means doing so for as many people as possible.

A common misconception is that digital accessibility means catering to disability. This is only part of the picture. It’s not solely about disability, but also device, location, language, environment.

Being digitally accessible, then, is about having a usable, findable and understandable online presence. It’s about creating a streamlined website with quick, convenient access to information. And, importantly, that experience must be as equivalent as possible for all your website visitors. No matter who the visitor, where they’re clicking from, what device they’re using, and when they access your site.

So, how do chatbots support your accessibility efforts?


Always on

First, chatbots can offer 24/7/365 support. They don’t need to sleep, eat, or use the bathroom. They don’t need time off for holidays. Instead, they’re always on, always ready to greet your digital visitors.

Some of your visitors will reach your digital front door outside your normal operating hours. Maybe they’re on their break during the night shift. It could be that your visitors live in a certain time zone. For them, it’s the middle of the day when all your support agents are at home for the evening.

For such visitors, if your site isn’t digitally accessible, it can be like a locked front door. While they can still window shop, they can’t ask questions or get help with their checkout.

This is where the ‘always on’ nature of a chatbot adds value. A chatbot means that there’s someone there to greet, help, and answer your visitors. No matter, that is, what time they click through your digital front door. A chatbot, then, can let you leave the door unlocked and the lights on for every visitor.


Readily available

Even when your agents are awake and in full swing, a chatbot can give your digital accessibility an added boost. This is because chatbots are readily available for your visitors to use. Even during busy times, when your agents are contending against growing chat queues.

With a chatbot, it doesn’t matter if it’s talking to one person, or 100. It’s always able to chat with another visitor. So, for the visitors with limited time, or that only need a simple question answered, chatbots make for a more digitally accessible service.


The caveat

It’s important to stipulate that availability doesn’t automatically equate to accessibility. If your chatbot is poorly implemented – if it fails to understand FAQ, if its responses haven’t been carefully crafted and tested – it won’t achieve the results you seek. A chatbot incapable of understanding is no more accessible than offering no online support at all.

So, a digitally accessible bot is one that has been deployed with care. You’ve spent time on configuring conversational flows. You’ve monitored your bot and continually tweaked its setup. And you’ve added to its dialog library over time, so that it’s better at delivering the best response to user input.

That’s where you’ll hit the sweet spot of optimum availability, optimum accessibility.


A digitally accessible front door

Bots aren’t just good for your contact centre bottom line. The always-on and readily available nature of chatbots is a boon to your digital accessibility.

Provided you’ve put care into its deployment, a chatbot will give a needed boost for your team and your website. They act as your doorman when your team aren’t available.

So, your digital guests have a quick, easy support option at the ready. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere.


Useful links

The rise of the online robo-advisor

Converting your online window shoppers

The importance of chatbot tone of voice