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The Biggest Myths About Chatbots – Debunked!

Fact or fiction, one thing that’s true is that chatbots aren’t going anywhere.

We’re all interacting with chatbots more and more, whether we’re trying to speak to a customer advisor, book an appointment, or simply do some online shopping. This is supported by trend reports, with Forbes accounting that the chatbot market will grow by 34% between 2021 and 2026 and increase in value to a cool $102 billion.



Common myths about chatbots

However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about chatbots out there, and that’s worth addressing. People often have concerns over chatbots replacing jobs. They may think they’re clunky and add little in the way of customer service experience. Or they might simply have doubts over the value they add to your organization. If you’ve got all the information a customer is looking for on your website, do you really need a chatbot?

However, these myths may be preventing you from unlocking huge benefits to your business. That can be the case in the higher education sector that Gecko operates in… or more widely.

Today, let’s separate the facts from the fiction so you can have a better understanding of how chatbots can support your communication strategy.


01. Chatbots Replace People’s Jobs

This is one of the most common misconceptions about chatbots.

However, when Gecko deploys a chatbot at an institution we’re normally doing so because the staff is in need of help. This normally manifests itself in incorporating a chatbot into the communication flow at times when staff simply aren’t available.  This could be in the evening, on weekends/holidays, or at times where the volume of inquiries is so heavy that back-up is needed.

This tech is designed to replace tasks, it doesn’t replace employees. A chatbot will never replace a human’s ability to have those complex, meaningful conversations that admissions officers and other staff have with prospective students. A smart adopter of a chatbot recognizes the gaps in their engagement strategy and puts a chatbot in place to make it better.

Harvard Business Review say the same; that chatbot isn’t in competition with your human workforce. In their words, a chatbot should augment human intelligence, not replace it. Chatbots aren’t the enemy. What they do is free up time so that teams can have more time to focus on where they can add the most value – those really important human conversations.


02. People Are Uncomfortable Talking to Chatbots

Maybe you think a chatbot is a ‘lesser’ customer experience. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience where a chatbot couldn’t answer your question and sent you around in circles. Maybe your overriding feeling about chatbots is that they’re just a bit clunky and not how you want to serve your customers.

However, technology is evolving all the time. The chatbots of today are way more intuitive and efficient than before.  In fact, according to research by Salesforce, high-performing service organisations are 2.1 times more likely than underperformers to be using AI chatbots. Additionally, the same study found that 64% of agents with AI chatbots are able to spend their time solving complex problems, versus 50% of agents without AI chatbots

When deployed in your organization’s “voice” and brand, chatbots mean better, faster, smarter communication – 24/7 customer service and more time for customer service staff to engage in meaningful, empathetic conversations. A chatbot could be the competitive advantage you need.

Kayce O'Brien Arapahoe Community College
"Chat switches the customer service experience for students, it makes it more relevant, friendly and feels very 21st-century customer service-based."
Kayce O'Brien
Director of Admissions, Arapahoe Community College

03. You Don’t Need a Chatbot if the Answer Is on Your Website

This is another common misconception when it comes to chatbots. What is the need for a chatbot if you have all the information on your website already?

There are a couple of points to mention here. The first one is: higher education websites are vast. Huge. It’s therefore tricky to know that all of the information on your site is up-to-date. When you build a chatbot, you’re the one populating it with questions and answers. You can therefore be confident that all the information on the bot is 100% accurate and up-to-date.

The second point is this. This generation of students expects instant responses. The last thing they want to do is mine through a website looking for the answer they need. A chatbot can direct them to the resources they need, quickly, and offer them the customer service they expect.

As one of our Gecko clients points out in our recent customer story, students may not even know what questions to ask, particularly if they’re a first-generation student. A chatbot can find out more about them, direct them to helpful resources, and follow up with further information and support.

The biggest thing to ask yourself is whether your institution is providing an experience that is positive and meets students where they are at from a speed of response requirement. That’s your starting point.


04. You Need Technical Skills to Run a Chatbot

Think chatbots are too high-maintenance? You’re not alone. Maybe you think you need a ton of technical skills – or an entire IT team – to get value out of chatbots at your organization. However, this isn’t the case. A lot of the time there are strictly no coding skills required.

One of the key benefits of a Gecko chatbot is that, once it’s up and running, you can make any updates yourself. You don’t have to raise a ticket with our team. You don’t need to email your point of contact and then wait for them to respond. You can go directly into your chatbot and make the changes yourself. What this means is that you can react quickly and deliver a more responsive and up-to-date service for students, staff, and prospects.

We recently discussed this topic with Kayce O’Brien, Director of Admissions at Arapahoe Community College, during our recent Gecko Talks webinar. She highlighted how the ability to update their chatbot themselves helped them keep students up to date with key information throughout the pandemic. Kayce said, “During Covid when policies and rules changed, to be able to have those answers instantly updated was super helpful.”

Isabella Collas
“We have lots of information on our website already, but having a chatbot guides exploration for students and directs them to the right resources.
Isabella Collas
Admissions Advisor, UCI

05. Implementing a Chatbot Takes Too Much Time

This is a common concern from professionals in the higher education sector, and it’s understandable. If your teams are already maxed out with their day-to-day workload then the thought of trying to get a chatbot up and running is probably one ask too many, right? However, the process of building your own chatbot doesn’t have to be as disruptive as you may think.

We don’t mean to toot our own horn or anything, but Gecko chatbot customers are usually up and running within a matter of days. Lamar University spent five days building their bot, launched, and saved their team a massive 90 working days over the course of the year.

The other great thing to remember is that you can start getting value from the chatbot as soon as you launch. As soon as you hit go you’re already providing a service that’s available 24/7, which wasn’t available before, right? Your chatbot gets smarter with every conversation so you can simply add additional questions and answers as you go on.


06. Quicker is always better

Some chatbots are created by ‘scraping’ websites for information. This process involves mining through the content on your school’s website and importing it into the chatbot. This is sometimes perceived as being a quicker way of getting your chatbot up and running. However, the devil is in the detail, and this is where scraping comes undone.

We mentioned earlier that higher education institutions may have out of date information on their website. When that website is scraped it simply means that that out of date information is transferred into the chatbot. You then have to spend time fixing all the incorrect information. It therefore makes much more sense to involve humans in the creation process.

Creating your chatbot with a team of people also means that you can add personality. Does your wording on your website speak to students in the same way you would at an in-person event? Probably not! It’s probably more professional, and maybe a little less fun. Building a chatbot using human input means you can pack your chatbot with personality.

Tracie Craig Lamar University
"The bot has saved us a lot of time and is available around the clock to answer common questions."
Tracie Craig
Director, Lamar University

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