Chatbot Benefits and Potential Pitfalls

By Kristi Colleran - November 03, 2016


Chatbot Benefits and Potential Pitfalls

Chatbots enable marketers to do something that they have only been able to dream of doing: personalize content delivery and have meaningful conversations with customers at scale.

And while the potential benefits are clear:

  • More cost-effective customer service

  • Faster response times

  • Easier business transactions

  • More convenient ways to address prospects and customers in their preferred medium

The potential pitfalls are also clear:

Recently I teamed up with Kristina Podnar, Digital Governance Advisor, to co-author a post to help marketers learn more about what chatbots are, how they’re changing the conversation between companies and their customers and the opportunities (and risks) they represent for marketers. Hopefully, this post will help those companies experimenting with chatbots to realize the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls. I’ve summarized some of the key points below, but you can read the entire post here.



A chatbot is software that automates the task of talking with people, especially over the internet. In much the same way that software programs (Microsoft Word, Excel, and so on) live on your laptop and that apps (Instagram, Pokemon Go, and so on) live on your smartphone, chatbots live on messaging apps. For example, chatbots might live on Facebook Messenger, SMS, Kik, or WeChat.

The rise in popularity of messaging apps clearly illustrates the opportunities for brands to utilize chatbots to increase their customer engagement at scale.

bii chat apps vs social networks

Update: Business Insider recently reported the continued astronomical growth of messaging apps, “The combined total monthly active user (MAU) count of the top 4 messaging apps has grown to 4.1 billion in 2018, with the top three messaging apps touting user bases of 1 billion or more.”


Consumers are also spending more time on messaging apps and this engagement is expected to keep growing.

average time spent on mobile apps



  • Chatbots allow you to be where your customers already are: messaging apps.

  • Chatbots combine the ease of texting with the intelligence of embedded software programs to carry out any number of tasks, from automating subscription content (like weather and traffic updates) to customizing communications (like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages).

  • These are just a few use cases. Chatbots open new opportunities to engage your customers with content – at scale.

Potential Pitfalls:

  • Branding – Does your chatbot appropriately represent your brand in terms of language sensitivity, tone and voice, and local customs based on customer culture?

  • Data localization and governance – In what country does your organization store information gathered from customers via a chatbot? How does your organization structure chatbot and user data? Is that data secured so as to comply with relevant regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act? How is that data stored and transferred across the country and regional borders?

  • Privacy – What information does your chatbot ask for and collect? Does your company use contextual data with explicit permission to market or sell?

  • Children’s online protection – Does your chatbot recognize users under the age of 13 and adjust or deny interactions with them based on legal requirements in the relevant countries?

Avoid these pitfalls by creating conversational-commerce policies.

To develop new policies, start by addressing these questions:

  • Accountability: Who within the organization is accountable for chatbot assets? This person should coordinate with the privacy, risk, and compliance individuals in the organization to identify appropriate policies and governing mechanisms.
  • Priority: Which top risks should be addressed to protect the brand and reputation of the organization?

  • Education: Where can people in your organization find these policies so that they can follow them? Is there an easily accessible place where agencies and vendors who support your chatbot creation can find your requirements and documentation?

  • Compliance: What is necessary to support your policies and ensure that chatbots are created, deployed, and managed in controlled ways that will not break laws or compromise your reputation?

How to get started

Chatbots are gaining momentum. Soon they’ll be just another form of digital communication. How might your company engage people in this new automated way? Where do you start?

We recommend you start by considering these questions:

  • Who are your target customers?

  • What messaging apps do they use?

  • What simple, low-risk use cases might you experiment with?

  • Where are your customers or prospects located, and what laws and regulations related to digital marketing apply in those countries?

  • Which credible bot-development and maintenance resources might you reach out to?

  • What steps might you take to avoid blunders and privacy or security flops?

Read to get started? Talk to one of our chatbot experts and start taking advantage of this opportunity to engage your customers in a more impactful way.


Case Study

Drive Event

Deploying Sciensio's Eventbots solution to improve and enhance a major industry trade show.

Get Case Study

We promise that we won't SPAM you.