Have you heard of Chatbots? Do you know how can Chatbots help you grow your business? Do you know that chat bots is part of the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution?
In case you are not familiar with any of the above, today’s article is to help unlock one of the key tools which can help you grow your customer segment.
Note: Related articles include Future of Bots (click here) and machine learning (click here).
AI & Chatbots
As I write this article (March 2019), artificial intelligence is already around in the minds of customers as many rely on it day in and day out. According to Gartner, about 38% of consumers have been using virtual assistant services on their smartphones already. With many enterprises adopting AI to deliver contextual conversation, seamless, and personalized banking services, it’s time to move to the next level.
What does that mean?
Personally, the time is now to be intuitive and proactive about customer services. Specifically, on how customers will experience AI (and Chatbots) and bridge the gap between what technology can do and how people are consuming it.
Things are getting more exciting because, when artificial intelligence gets enriched with the power of big data. Especially with the analytics which it can offer, as it can provide a unique and differentiated customer experience.
The Importance of Virtual Agents (Chatbots) For Customer Experience
Let’s bring a notch up and see how we can work on customer experiences.
Traditionally, when you contact a company on a problem, generally it is the contact center that attends to you. This can be very slow.
But why is it so slow when you need something fixed?
It does not make sense, right?
Well, that agent that is helping you is generally looking through a bunch of different CRM and contact center technology. It has got a lot of limits on the information they can access. Hence, there’s a delay.
However, with technology, this can be improved. And we can do it using a chatbot.
So what is a chatbot?
The chatbot is essentially a bot (or a software robot to be exact) that can have a conversation with a person. And there are a few different contexts where a chatbot can be useful.
One is customer service another is providing references or ideas for a shopper and also marketing or engagement. Amazing?
Here’s an example. When a customer have an issue with a product the chatbot can engage with the customer to find out what is wrong. Then, through an calculated guess (based on probabilities and etc) that is actually quite accurate, the bot tell the customer how to fix that problem.
Another example comes from Nordstrom. During Nordstrom’s last holiday season, they used the chatbot to provide customers with basically ideas for gifts. These idea came from certain things that the customer would tell the Nordstrom chatbot, like “well I would like to buy a gift for my husband” or “we have a Caribbean vacation plan”.
So perhaps the chatbot can respond by saying “hey, we have got these wonderful new swim trunks in all different colors”.
Another fun example comes from Covergirl. Covergirl engaged an influencer named Kalani, she is a dancer, model, and actress. They created a chatbot to reflect Kalani’s personality and the chatbot had such powerful results and most people who engage with the chatbot really enjoyed it. The great thing was, afterwards, about 51% of customers that had engaged clicked on a coupon provided by Kalani after the conversation.
Those are some examples of chatbots customer service engagement and even shopping.
What else can a bot do?
The beauty of the chatbot is its ability to sift through large amounts of information and provide relevant results. The beausty is, this is actually more efficient than a human. And that’s because humans and contact centers are dealing with lots of different technologies that aren’t very fast and they are sifting through tons of information.
However, here’s a secret you don’t know when a contact center agent is trying to help you, they might actually be using Google on the other end to try and find the answer for you. This is to say that they are basically using the same software in the contact center as the chatbot is using.
Most companies have terrible knowledge bases so the chatbot is exciting because in the future it will replace the search window, the knowledge base, and some even say it will replace many apps. That’s also because chat bots are generally used on messenger apps such as wechat, whatsapp or Facebook Messenger.
Should You Use Virtual Agents?
If your business is looking to improve its self-service capability then virtual agents could be just what you have been looking for.
Think of virtual agents as a very hardworking member of your team that can be trained to respond to any customer inquiry. It can work 24 hours a day 365 days a year, once information is given, it never forgets it because of its sophisticated brain that allows it to work out what your customers need.
In addition, the bots have programmable aspects of personality so it can reflect your company’s ethics; it can be fun and engaging or serious. This can help to increase customer loyalty as people would want to come back and that gives your company an opportunity.
If your human staff cannot get to the office, virtual agents can keep your business going. Unexpected increases in call volume and online customer inquiries can be dealt with effectively and efficiently as they are easily scalable from one to many thousands at very short notice. This is very useful for managing peaks in consumer demand.
For example seasonal spikes, new product launches, or ticket sales. Virtual agents can handle millions of inquiries from anywhere in the world at the same time in multiple languages.
If your customer needs to engage with your business across multi-channel, virtual agents can deliver rich media content directly via the web, telephone, or smart devices such as an iPad, Android, or Windows Phone. They can also integrate into your back-end systems to process orders, take payments, fill out forms, process claims, help people buy the right products, book appointments, and deliver fantastic customer experiences.
Simply put it, it can help increase revenues, drive down costs, and improve your customer’s experience of engaging with your company.
You may already be using chatbot in your life and you probably didn’t realise it yet. If you have asked Amazon’s Alexa, Apple Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana about something. For example what is the weather like today? That’s already it.
Many e-commerce companies are looking at various ways to use chatbot to improve and scale the customer experience; whether for shopping, booking, or customer service.
Next time you hear about chatbot, remember to look beyond the fancy term chatbot and ask about how it really connects to and adds value to your life.
In short, especially combined with Natural Language Processing (read more), chatbots can help enterprises to
- Improve the efficiency of their contact centers
- Increase first contact resolution
- Improve customer satisfaction
More importantly, the bots can help the overall customer experience while also reducing customer effort, average handling time, and operational cost.