5 min read
How many text messages do you send and receive per day? What about the teenagers you know? Our modern social landscape relies heavily on messaging as a primary means of communication. According to the PEW Research Center, over 97% of phone users send text messages every day and they use messaging more than mobile Internet. Increasingly, businesses are also leveraging messaging to reach customers where they are most frequently interacting. Chatbots allow businesses across many industries to capitalize on the messaging trend, reduce costs associated with traditional channels and improve customer relationships.
Chatbots, efficiency, and happy customers
Because the messaging interface is familiar and a comfortable, established way for most people to interact already, customers adapt quickly to communicating with chatbots. And despite the simplicity of the interface, chatbots process more information in real time than humans ever could, opening up a wide range of possibilities for maturation of service models. Used as an augmentation to regular training, sales, or customer service practices, chatbots deliver a tremendous increase in efficiency. Juniper Research anticipates that by 2022—just a few short years away—chatbots will save companies $8 billion every year.
Chatbots and CSR's: A Dynamic Duo
Although you may think of chatbots as replacements for traditional Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s), the service model is often more blended, with chatbots working alongside humans to produce successful customer outcomes. Chatbots can serve either CSR’s or customers directly.
When chatbots work directly with CSR’s, this directly benefits the customer though it may not be visible. CSR’s can train rapidly using chatbots in addition to human instruction, previewing common chat scenarios and reducing the hands-on teaching required. When CSR’s are working with customers, chatbots can act as a separate search tool for CSR questions, or they can listen in on CSR/customer chats to offer help in real-time. Natural language processing (NLP) allows them listen to phone calls or interpret written words, evaluate for customer intent, and suggest helpful information.
In addition to helping customers behind-the-scenes, chatbots can also be directly customer-facing, which has many benefits. For businesses, chatbots deliver cost savings and process efficiencies. They can independently complete high-volume/low-complexity tasks like routine greetings, tNPS post call surveys, data collection, and document retrieval. Because chatbots automatically handle routine conversations and tasks, human agents can move away from monotonous, repetitive tasks to focus on more complicated, nuanced conversations like edge cases and escalated issues. Chatbots also help agents provide asynchronous customer service, since agents can participate in only essential portions of conversations and transfer between simultaneous chats as needed. This prioritization reduces costs and allows agents to use their time more effectively.
For customers, the primary value of chatbots is their availability. Chatbots provide around-the-clock, convenient access to businesses, saving customers time and energy. Instead of having to take time to scour your website, email, or wait for a call center to open, customers can purchase a product, troubleshoot an issue, or get counseled on decision-making as easily as messaging their best friend. If their exchange is during business hours and they want to be transferred to an agent, the chatbot can utilize geography data, product expertise, or problem resolution expertise to route to the correct agent.
This routing is a key benefit of chatbots, since it puts customers at ease during a time of technological transition. If chatbots had no ability to route to human agents, customers might easily become overwhelmed by the frustration of just “talking to a robot.” With routing, however, the experience transforms to satisfaction: “robots” can be appreciated for their customer service and their ability to easily loop humans into the conversation when necessary.
When chatbots are involved, customer experiences become faster, easier and more reliable, which leads to increased engagement and higher closure rates. In fact, according to the Aberdeen Group, customer satisfaction triples at companies that use chatbot messaging. With happy customers, both your tNPS and revenue increase – it’s a win-win.
The technology and tools that drive chatbot functionality, machine learning and natural language processing, have improved dramatically in the past few years. They continue to develop at an incredible pace. However, no matter how impressive or promising the technology, success will be limited if the chatbots aren’t implemented with care.
To ensure a smooth transition for your service model, it can be helpful to pilot changes like chatbots internally before deploying public-facing bots. This allows for several learning cycles, including testing and training data essential to refining the tool, which ensures that the brand releases a product unlikely to damage its CSAT. With chatbots integrated and configured successfully for internal use, organizations can plan strategic shifts in communication channels to incorporate chatbots in ways that will enhance user experience from Day 1.
Chatbots are an important tool in today’s customer journey, not to be underestimated or underutilized. According to Gartner, by the year 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be powered by chatbots. They’re a powerful way to drive customer relationships, and now is the time to integrate them into your business.
Follow Lionel Bodin on LinkedIn
Live and automated chat elevates your customer and agent experiences, while reducing cost through automation.Read about Messaging as part of your customer care strategy.