Businesses are matching high customer demands by leveraging the Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and chatbots to improve their services.
By Ashwini Dave
Chatbots are computer programs created with artificial intelligence to make meaningful human communication. Built with Natural Language Processing (NLP), they interpret large natural language data and react to them almost like humans. The popularity of chatbots is increasing among businesses. Facebook boasts of over 300,000 active bots on Messenger driving the over 8 billion messages exchanged per month.
According to a Chatbots In Customer Service – Statistics and Trends Report, 95% of consumers are optimistic that customer service will be the major beneficiary of chatbots. Railroad service company Amtrak is proof of this optimism as they are meeting the needs of the over thirty million passengers they cater to per year with their custom chatbot called Julie.
Dealing with such a high number of customers can be overwhelming. If customers had to make a phone call or send an email each time they have an inquiry, they’d have to wait for long to get a response. To save customers the painstaking task of long waiting, there’s provision for them to fill out an automated form, and Julie walks them through whatever information they need including hotel and car reservations. As a result of this, the company has recorded 8X return on investment, saved $1 million in customer service email costs per year, generated 30% more revenue per booking every month and over five million questions answered by Julie per year.
Round the clock customer service
Some businesses claim to provide 24/7 support, but in reality, they don’t. Try reaching out to them at odd hours. In a State of Chatbots Report, 64% of consumers outlined 24-hour support as one of the potential benefits of chatbots.
People are seeking information on the go. While the world sleeps, there’s always someone somewhere awake and online. When they need help, they make use of the help button, not minding the time of day.
Having support agents available 24/7 may strain the pockets of small and medium-sized businesses. Their limited resources can only provide support during working hours. Unfortunately, their absence is a disadvantage as they might miss business opportunities.
Businesses can be there for their customers round the clock. They don’t have to pay more remuneration to support agents to work extra hours. Chatbots are automated to take and resolve inquiries via Natural Language Processing at a lower cost.
Where does that leave support agents?
One of the major misconceptions of AI is that it’ll render humans jobless. But that isn’t true. Chatbots create a more efficient customer service by closing gaps.
The standard for good customer service has risen above satisfactory. Customers expect to have their needs met on their own terms. Doing this requires some level of proactiveness by organizations.
As of today, most organizations wait for customers to come forth with their query before offering a solution. This isn’t bad, but it can be better.
Chatbots are able to predict customer needs from their previous online interactions. Acting as customers’ shadows online, chatbots detect stress indicators and provide real-time support via virtual service or FAQs before issues escalate.
The benefits of proactiveness in customer service are enormous. E-commerce stands to gain a lot from this. A SaleCycle report found that there’s a 75.6% cart abandonment rate on websites. Basically, your cart abandonment rate is a determinant of your overall sales. Lower the abandonment, higher the sales.
Good Spa Guide – an international publishing arm of a Fortune 100 Company had the problem of getting too many customer service tickets on random questions from visitors. This was a distraction from the focus they wanted visitors to have on the great content they created. They sort out to build a chatbot to help visitors with the information they might need before hitting the contact button. They set opening hours for the bot and times when it’d facilitate human-to-human conversation between their support agent and visitors. In two weeks, the average number of tickets received daily dropped by 48%.
Professionalism at its peak
Support agents try their best to be professional. But there’s only so much they can do. Helplines of big organizations are constantly buzzing. While agents are on the phone with a customer, are coming in on other channels.
Courtesy, politeness, and cheerfulness are some of the characteristics of good customer service agent. An exhausted agent can try to be polite and courteous, but there’s no guarantee that they will be cheerful. Somethings cannot be forced. Such an agent could get the job done, but may not get a 100% score from the customer in rating their service.
Customers don’t just want a solution to their problems; they want to know that you really care. A Customer Experience Impact Report by Oracle found that 86% of customers are willing to pay for better customer experience. It takes more than efficiency to provide an excellent service. Adding a little cheer makes it a complete experience.
You can start by taking some of the workloads off their shoulders by using chatbots.
Chatbots aren’t humans. They don’t understand what it means to be tired, happy or sad. Having a bad day? That ’t apply to them. Keeping your bots motivated 24/7 is just a button away.
The Republic of Estonia was getting too many inquiries about her e-Residency program. The questions were unique to the individuals asking them, but to the organization, they were similar. Yet, they had to go through the stress of re-writing the same answers into different conversation fields. They sort of better way out with chatbots. So far, their chatbot has a 45% success rate in handling customer inquiries independently. If an inquiry is beyond its comprehension, the bot forwards it to a human support agent.
Time is money. This comes to play in customer service. Resolving customers’ problems effectively is inconsequential if it isn’t done quickly. A Customer Experience Survey found that speed is the top priority in customer service. Look at it this way: the only time customers contact you is when they need help. If you want to be in customers’ good books, don’t keep them waiting.
But with a very busy desk, the speed of light customers demand is a tall order. Support agents try to do their job as best as they can. A problem not fully solved is just as bad as it was initially. Doing the great job expected of support agents requires sufficient time.
Do you keep your customers waiting for eternity just because you want to serve them better?
Speed is one of the ways technology makes our lives better. Tasks that’d ordinarily take longer times to execute are ticked off in a few minutes. 69% of consumers prefer communicating with chatbots for a quick resolution to their inquiries.
Chatbots are automated to take multiple customer inquiries simultaneously. This automatically eradicates the long waiting queue.
Offer bespoke customer service
An organization’s customer-base consists of individuals with different personalities. They may have a common interest in your brand, but their preferences differ.
The one-size-fits-all technique of customer service is fast becoming inadequate. Addressing customers at their individual points of need is the highlight of modern customer service. This entails having a grasp of individual customer persona through the collection of big data.
How would you feel if you logged onto a site, and every information presented is tailor-made for you?
If customers are made to feel at home, there’d always want to come back.
Riding on the coattails of big data, chatbots offer a bespoke customer experience. With customers’ online history at their disposal, they can decipher items customers need the moment they arrive on a site. They intelligently sieve your product categories, taking out less important items. Customers only get to see items that are relevant to them.
Top international fashion label H&M uses chatbot s to guide her customers through their buying journey on their site. The bot collects customer inquiries and responds to each inquiry differently. From customers’ online history, it identifies their gender. To understand their style, it provides two images with different styles and asks them to pick one. Based on their choice, it proceeds to suggest outfits that match their style. In order not to put customers in a box, the bot gives them several options of designs to choose from. If they aren’t ready to buy immediately, there’s provision for them to save the outfit in their cart, and also share the image on social media.
H&M experienced an increase in sales after implementing the Kik bot.
Chatbots changing customer service is a win for everyone as we all benefit from it on different levels. As a buyer, you’d have fewer reasons to complain about the quality of service delivered to you. As a seller, you’d be empowered to be a force to reckon with in your industry as customers are drawn to businesses with superior service.
Ashwini Dave is passionate about Business, Entrepreneurship, E-commerce, and Digital Marketing. She is working with Acquire as a digital marketing executive. She is a free soul and adventurous scholar who spends her free time with herself, loved once, music, and watching & playing sports, ocean addicted and on roads being a thrill-seeking traveler to get new experiences as she looks at life as our very own works of art. @AshwiniDave1.
Chatbot stock photo by Alliance Images/Shutterstock