Being unable to speak to a human about an issue might initially feel like an inconvenience. However, chatbots have proven to be a key contributor to modern-day customer service initiatives.
Different generations have their preferred forms of communication, but research has shown that at least two-thirds of internet users (67%) have used social media, live chat, or texting to contact customer service. Here’s how to maximise your omnichannel customer experience efforts using chatbots to supplement your current team.
What is a chatbot?
Chatbots are software programmes designed to assist customer service agents. They provide quick and efficient user guidance to answer enquiries on demand. Rather than implementing a tool with pre-programmed responses, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) technology to process, interpret, and respond to customer-provided data and data.
Using AI for customer service adds to existing teams by:
Enabling them to focus on solving more complex queries.
Creating an out-of-hours support function.
Discouraging drop-offs by business prospects due to a lack of response.
These core advantages make it ideal for companies to apply AI chatbots as an ongoing solution for managing ad-hoc queries. They cater to an organisation’s changing customer needs – assisting at both peak and quieter times – which has a multitude of tangible benefits.
What are the benefits of using a chatbot?
A 2022 Juniper Research study suggests that 75-90% of queries are expected to be handled by chatbots this year. This level of usage not only highlights the importance of adapting to changing business needs, but the increasing importance of providing a convenient, omnichannel customer experience.
Here are a few reasons on why a business can benefit from using chatbots.
1. Personalising customer journeys
Implementing an AI chatbot can improve customer journeys, but personalisation in the user experience is key to ensure a unique experience that is adapted for individual queries.
For businesses operating across multiple territories, multi-lingual support is available by configuring the chatbot to offer more than one language capability to customers. It can also include a constant clarification on whether issues have been solved before the query is forwarded to a customer service agent.
For familiarity and ease of access and use, chatbots can be readily available across different communication channels, such as website chat boxes, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more.
2. Supplementing staff
Salesforce research revealed that 64% of customer service agents who use AI chatbots are able to spend most of their time solving difficult cases.
The best chatbots for customer service also boost employee productivity. They save the employees’ time by answering common questions, and support staff who are taking care of more complex problems that need further investigation.
3. Cutting costs
Chatbots are one of the most cost-effective ways to provide a first line of contact for your customers who need help as soon, and as quickly, as possible. According to a digital customer care report, using chatbots can help businesses reduce their customer service costs by as much as 30%.
Customer service agents can step in if issues cannot be resolved by available material, saving time for both parties in terms of reducing investigation time. Chatbots are also easily scalable at a much lower cost than bringing in extra employees.
How to improve customer service with chatbots
With the benefits of chatbots in mind, the next step is understanding how to apply them to your business. The best chatbots for customer service introduce the next three key factors to improve the user experience.
1. 24/7 customer support
Improving accessibility with 24/7 support offers customers the flexibility in how and when to engage with your brand. Research from Drift has shown that chatbots are the perfect solution to high-volume support enquiries, but they also help streamline the process of delivering information instantly.
Chatbots can escalate queries to an agent if the customer still wants to speak to someone in more detail, but the best chatbots should be able to support your customers at a time that is convenient for them.
2. Quicker Responses
A HubSpot report stated that the average call centre waiting time is roughly 13 minutes.
Chatbots can shorten that time to increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Market research on customer loyalty has found that 82% of consumers reported that getting quick responses from brands is important to them, with 29% of customers dropping the queue when a brand doesn’t respond to their questions instantly.
While response times will vary on a case-by-case basis and depend on staff availability, the best chatbots for customer service should significantly reduce – or entirely eliminate – the waiting period for multiple people at once, in real-time.
3. Improved Insights
As self-serving functions, chatbots can save users a lot of time by sharing the available on-site resources they are looking for. This helps businesses retain current customers and increase engagement with prospects.
Chatbots also reduce repetition as a whole. They decrease potentially-confusing chat interactions while simplifying routine, menial tasks. This frees up an agent’s time and provides them with complete context on queries before an agent speaks directly to the customer for higher support on more complicated tasks.
AI continuously improves with each request – meaning the more data chatbots can process and collect, the more it learns to improve performance.
AI chatbots can provide access to customer service analytics, and assist customer service teams in easily tracking Customer Satisfaction KPIs. Being able to understand where changes can be made will significantly help in providing the best ways to improve customer service.
While applying chatbots to improve customer service can benefit your business, it’s important to remember that they are only as good as the data you provide to them about your customers.
Take the time to understand what your customers might deal with – and collaborate across your customer service, marketing, and sales teams – to ensure that your chatbot is equipped with the best available information to create the best customer experience possible.