Virtual assistants, also called chatbots or bots, have become a great tool for companies to interact with their customers, especially those that employ Artificial Intelligence.
In fact, according to Gartner, by next year an estimated 85% of all customer service interactions will be handled without a human agent. And when it comes to AI, according to Forrester, 40% of companies are already using it for customer support, raising the standard for customer experience strategies all around the world.
The benefits are clear. By using Artificial Intelligence, a bot does not require full-time human resources. In turn, companies can automate a large part of their customer service and save money, while helping customers 24/7. In fact, chatbots are expected to help cut business costs by $8 billion dollars by the year 2022, according to Juniper Research. But, if this technology is not applied in optimal conditions, both employees and customers can have a negative experience.
A company’s enthusiasm can quickly turn to frustration if the necessary precautions are not taken before launching a chatbot. Users are also excited when they start to chat with a bot. But the fun evaporates when they do not receive helpful answers. In a matter of seconds users end up forming a negative opinion about the company, leaving a permanent digital mark. And companies cannot afford for this to happen.
Automated chatbots should be used to improve customer satisfaction, without leaving empathy and human-like interactions behind. Making a robot sound human might seem hard and expensive, but it’s definitely not. The key lies in finding the right automated technology for your customer service strategy and applying it in optimal conditions to properly communicate with your clients.
As we’ve been in the industry for a while (6 years now!) we’ve come across a ton of companies that failed in their search for intelligent technology. We know failing in choosing the right solution costs money, time and frustrations, so we decided to gather some essential considerations to take into account before making the big move.
Flow chatbots vs Smart chatbots
A customer service chatbot must be useful and transactional, it must work correctly and be able to help the user. At a minimum, the bot must be able to solve customers’ most frequently asked questions and provide real-time solutions. If it can’t do this, it is just a simple command bot — a bot that responds to a structured flow of limited questions and answers.
The main difference between these command bots and a transactional bot is that the first ones do not use Artificial Intelligence. Instead, they operate based on an outline set of questions and answers. They’re affordable and easy to program, but their language is limited and conversations may not be as fluid as you’d like.
They are not useless, but they will never understand your customer’s intention. On the other hand, smart chatbots use artificial intelligence to have coherent conversations with natural language, and can even identify the intention behind questions. If you’re planning on implementing a Customer Service chatbot, this is the one we would recommend you to try, since it will make your customers feel understood and well attended.
Focus on your goals and needs
A common mistake that companies usually make when looking for the right chatbot, is developing astronomic technologies that end up failing at the simplest things. This leads to getting stuck with massive AI platforms that have a million features that are impossible to keep up with. You don’t need to go over the top as long as you focus on your objectives, needs, and resources. If you set realistic goals and find a tool that adapts to your needs or strategy, there’s a big chance you’ll achieve said goals.
In 2019, there are multiple ways of getting the best customer service solution powered by AI without needing a whole team of developers to set up every tiny detail. That way, everybody saves time: companies can easily set up their bot, and their clients can solve their problems faster with the help of efficient technology.
Train your chatbot
It doesn’t matter how intelligent a solution is, technology isn’t magic, it doesn’t just work by itself. This misconception is particularly common in the customer service industry, where technology is considered as a tool to simplify companies’ processes rather than to simplify the lives of their customers. After all, customer service should be about serving customers.
A new solution should definitely make your job more efficient, but it will demand a lot of attention and effort at the beginning, to get you there. As mentioned before, choose a solution that is simple enough for you and your team to handle, without having an IT team around all the time.
Afterwards, get to know your audience, predict their issues or inquiries, find the right way to solve them, and set the data up on your chatbot. A bot can be made with the best technology, but if you do not taylor it to your audience and their needs, it will not fulfill your customer service goals.
Once you set it up, the tech will learn based on the conversations it establishes, your customers’ behaviour, and the information you provided.
Solve the right issues
Finally, believing that technology will always do a better job than a person is a common mistake. This couldn’t be further away from the truth. Without a doubt, a trained human agent is more capable of solving more complex issues better than any solution out there.
But not all your customers’ issues are big or complex. For instance, more than 90% of the requests Amadeus, a travel comany, receives are related to 6–8 topics and turn out to be your typical frequently asked questions. So if these are the types of issues you are dealing with on a daily basis, then a chatbot is the right solution for you. They group most of your incoming requests by topics and complexity and, therefore, address them automatically so that agents will dedicate their efforts to the remaining more complex or creative cases and tasks.
If you decide implementing a chatbot is the right call for you, you should know each one on the market deals with these common issues in different ways. It takes a powerful solution to, first, understand a customer’s problem quickly and, second, to solve it in the fewest interactions possible.
But the picture is clear: by 2022, global spending on AI will grow to $7.3 billion a year, up from $2 billion in 2018 (Juniper Research). Soon, implementing innovative technologies won’t be just a plus for companies. It will be a must in order to survive in today’s competitive market and meet customers’ expectations. If your plan is to stand out from your competitors by improving your customer experience with AI, you need to get ahead of the curve.