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Display Options to Maximize Engagement of Web Chatbots in Healthcare


by Vagelis H. 03/29/2021

OK, so you have trained your healthcare chatbot to help patients make appointments, book a COVID-19 test,  check their symptoms, or recommend procedures. What’s next?

Chatbot platforms, such as SmartBot360, generally generate a short HTML snippet that you copy-paste to your Web page and this is it, right?

Not really. There are several options to consider that can have a big impact on the degree of engagement, that is, how many page visitors interact with the chatbot and for how long. We analyzed statistics across healthcare web sites that host chatbots and discuss the results.

The choice with the biggest impact is if the Web bot is open when loading a page, or if the patient has to click on the bot icon to open its window. Below we show the three basic options:

(a) The Web bot is open on page load

(b) The Web bot is closed on page load, and has a “Click to chat” or other similar popup message to make it more visible and make it clear what the bot icon is

(c) The Web bot is closed on page load, and has no popup message, which makes the visitor much less likely to interact with it.

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Option (a)

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Option (b)

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Option (c)

The bot engagement rate is the number of patients that interact (send at least one message) with the bot divided by the number of people that visit the page.

For option (a), the engagement rate is around 25%. For option (b) it drops to about 11%, and for option (c) to around 5%.

When the bot starts closed (options (b) and (c)), among the patients that click the bot icon, 74% of them continue and chat with the bot, whereas the rest 26% do not send any message.

A subcategory of option (c) is when the bot starts by clicking a CTA button that is often prominently displayed. In this case, the engagement rate is around 15%, depending on the position and size of the button.

These percentages are based on chatbots with frictionless flow, that is, chatbots that do not start with a personal question (such as what is your name or email) or with a disclaimer (such as “I am a chatbot, so I cannot offer any advice, click to proceed”). If such higher friction messages are the first messages in a chatbot, the above percentages drop by about 40% across the board.

In terms of length of a chat session, as expected, when users have to click on the chat icon (options (b) and (c)) they are more likely to have longer sessions. We found that these sessions are about 20% longer (in number of messages) on average. 

Another option that is sometimes used when displaying a web bot is to embed it on the web page as shown below. The effect of this option depends on the position of the embedded bot within the web page.

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To conclude, we have found wide variance in the bot engagement rates depending on how the web bot is displayed. We always advise SmartBot360 customers to try out different settings, to pick what works best for them.