Are Chatbots Right for Your Parish Website?

July 16, 2020  •   LPi

Chat box on computer screen

At a time when people expect answers in seconds, the time might be right for a small parish staff already stretched thin to look into new tools to better serve their parish community. A conversational marketing platform for your parish website might just be the tool needed to help lessen the load.

While the name might not strike a bell, you’ve definitely noticed the small call-out, usually in the lower right corner, of websites such as your phone carrier, credit card company, or bank. And while it may not seem as though your parish website would be the type to need it, it can definitely be valuable for those who come to your website.

Most parish websites have a lot of information stored on its pages — wedding policies and procedures, the meaning of specific sacraments, parish mission statement, ongoing events, weekly bulletins, committee updates, council meeting minutes, etc. With so much information, how do you ensure that those who come to your website find the information they need without having to wade through data that doesn’t pertain to them? Easy — introducing the chatbot.

A chatbot is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Put simply, through some easy pre-programing on the parish end, visitors to the website can type in what they’re looking for and get answers in nearly an instant.

There are many conversational marketing platforms that are free, or that can be used at a nominal cost, such as Drift, Intercom, and Verloop. While all of these are targeted to businesses and large organizations, they can also be an invaluable tool for your parish office.

Think about it. If someone comes to your website for information and can’t easily find it, what do they do? That’s right — they call the parish office, which then causes the person answering the phone to stop what they’re doing and answer their questions. By narrowing down the specific type of questions that typically come through (what is commonly referred to as “high volume” questions), they can be plugged into the chatbot instead. Then when a visitor comes to the website and can’t easily find what they’re looking for — such as when the bulletin submission deadline is or when the festival is taking place — all they need to do is click on the chatbot to get an answer. And the parish administrator can continue working uninterrupted.

Has your parish ever considered using a chatbot on its website? Let us know in the comments below!

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