Engaging customers has never been more critical for building a sustainable business. Today’s customers expect personalized, timely support throughout the buying process. But providing that level of support at scale is a hard task with human agents alone.
Businesses are turning to AI-powered chatbots for customer service to augment human agents by using bots to handle the customer’s initial query. Thanks to advances in AI, they can answer many questions directly and route more complex queries to a human support agent.
It may seem hard to believe that customers can be satisfied by chatting with a bot, but this technology is seeing widespread success. Accenture reports that 56% of CIOs and CTOs see chatbots as a disruptive agent in their industry, and 43% say their competitors are already using them.
In this post, we’ll cover 10 reasons you should consider using chatbots as part of your customer service strategy.
Ready? Let’s go…
What is a Customer Service Chatbot?
A customer service chatbot is an AI-enabled automated messaging platform that responds to customer queries on your website or social media pages. For a simpler query, the bot can understand the user’s query and answer it directly based on FAQs or knowledge bases. For more complex queries, chatbots can connect the customer with the right agent or department to resolve their issue.
Regardless of the question, chatbots allow you to provide 24/7 customer support, across channels, in a cost-effective way. The end result is you can deliver a personalized experience at scale, using the chatbot to handle repetitive tasks while freeing human agents to focus on more complex issues that require human responses.
10 Ways Chatbots Can Improve Customer Service
Customer service has always been critical for long-term business success. When the internet came about, the traditional handshake in the marketplace was replaced with an order page. It was easy to forget the basics of customer service. Now that online commerce is maturing, it’s critical to get those basics right. Let’s explore the ways customer service chatbots can help with that.
One of the biggest sources of customer service breakdowns is poor response time. Speed sells, and lengthy wait times will have customers closing out your site and going to your competitor.
Customer service chatbots eliminate delays in response by allowing you to reply instantly to customer inquiries. The bot starts with an initial triage of the customer inquiry, identifies the nature of the question, then either provides an answer within seconds or begins the process of routing the query to the right agent or department.
AI has advanced exponentially over the past few years, but it still isn’t able to understand complex issues, interpret human emotions, or respond effectively to frustrated customers. Chatbots augment these human advantages by handling simple queries quickly, freeing your team to focus their time and attention on more difficult issues.
A big cause of delayed responses is that support staff aren’t always available 24/7. 43% of customers look for 24/7 support from online retailers, but it’s difficult and costly to staff support desks around the clock.
Conversational chatbots can solve this issue by providing automated 24/7 help, even when human support staff are off the clock. Chatbots don’t require sleep or breaks, so they can respond to inquiries as soon as they come in.
If the question is simple, such as about pricing or features, the bot can answer it directly by drawing on existing knowledge. If a bot can’t help with a query, it can schedule a chat or call with the best support team member or indicate when a human will be available.
This ensures your customers never have to wait for a response, no matter when they need support.
It may sound like it’s impossible for a chatbot to provide personalized service. However, by using Natural Language Processing (NLP), chatbots can understand many aspects of a customer inquiry, including the nature of the issue, how urgent it needs to be addressed, and the department that needs to address it.
Bots can also integrate with your CRM to look up information about the customer and their past experiences with the company. For example, the chatbot could reference a customer’s version or subscription level to provide personalized responses to questions about features or pricing.
Chatbots can also help personalize service by giving you detailed information about customer behavior. For example, instead of visiting your website, browsing, then closing out the website, a chatbot allows you to start a conversation with site visitors to understand their needs and why they’re interested in your product or service.
While AI-powered chatbots can address a variety of questions, some will need to be routed to a technical person or other live specialist. In this situation, bots still come in handy. They can detect the context of a question and automatically designate the right department to address it. They can then either directly route the customer to the department, or schedule a call-back time.
This means bots are an efficient solution for routing since they avoid the need for the customer to know the right department for their query. They also leave customers satisfied since they will always end sessions with their issue resolved or in the process of resolution.
Reduced ticket load
Automated support with chatbots allows you to address around 75% of typical customer inquiries upfront. With a chatbot in place, for most queries you won’t need to create a support ticket to refer the customer to a human agent. You’ll have fewer tickets to manage and close. Your agent efficiency and productivity will improve since they’ll only be addressing tickets that require human intervention. They’ll also be freed to focus on higher-value tasks since the bot will handle the repetitive work around understanding queries and gathering customer information.
Collect timely feedback
Customer feedback is a valuable tool for measuring how well you’re delivering on customer expectations. But it’s difficult to collect that feedback in a way that’s systematic and easy for the customer to complete.
Customer service chatbots create a simple way to automatically collect feedback, such as when support conversations are finished, or after a purchase. They can collect quantitative data such as a Net Promoter Score (NPS), and qualitative data like open-ended questions about the customer experience.
You can use chatbots to run these surveys across channels, including email, websites, and social media, then compile the results in a single place. This allows you to create a system for collecting feedback then using it to improve your customer experience.
A special challenge for customer support is handling periods of heavy support demand. This includes peak hours and holiday periods. How can you ensure customers will enjoy the same high quality support you provide at other times?
Customer service bots allow you to scale support to handle these periods by providing a blend of automated and human touches. The chatbot can handle queries when they first arrive, and either answer them directly or pass them to a human agent in a seamless manner.
The bot can meet virtually endless demands in terms of volume and time. This simultaneously improves the customer experience by giving customers immediate support, while freeing your support team from repetitive tasks so they can focus on resolving more difficult issues.
Reduced operational costs
One of the bottlenecks to scaling customer support is staffing. It’s costly and difficult to train agents so they are qualified to help with difficult queries and also have the soft skills needed to leave customers satisfied.
Installing a customer support chatbot to handle frontend queries allows you to automate the repetitive aspects of customer support: things like understanding the nature of the issue, directing it to the appropriate department, and answering frequently asked questions. This means you’ll only need to onboard enough support resources to handle the more complex queries.
Since bots scale to handle virtually unlimited numbers of customers, they’ll also help you address periods of peak volume without having to invest in extra human resources just for those times.
Consistent omnichannel experience
Customers increasingly engage with companies across channels, including your website, social media, and email. With messages coming from so many different places, it’s easy to miss requests or respond too late to be helpful.
Chatbots can automate chats wherever the customer initiates them. They can also help build brand consistency across channels. You get to script the messaging to ensure you’re staying on-brand.
With bots doing the hard work of monitoring and responding to inquiries, you can rest assured you won’t be missing any inquiries due to spam filters or simple oversight. You’ll also eliminate any errors in messaging due to mistypes or other mistakes.
Higher customer satisfaction
It may seem counterintuitive that an automated interaction with a chatbot can boost customer satisfaction. However, many of the world’s largest brands, such as Amazon, are already using chatbots and seeing good results. After customers have a few good experiences with chatbots, they’ll be more receptive to the idea.
It’s key to be purposeful about how you incorporate chatbots in your customer engagement strategy. Have an end goal in mind, and evaluate your chatbots using surveys to determine how you can improve the experience. If you do this, you’ll deliver effective customer service in a cost-effective way that boosts customer satisfaction.
One of the most exciting parts about AI-powered customer service chatbots is how they’re always improving. They don’t use AI only to look up answers to questions. They’re constantly learning how to better understand and address customer needs. Furthermore, as customers give feedback about the chatbot, the chatbot improves how it responds to a particular question.
One of the key steps to getting started is selecting the best chatbot for your needs. The best chatbots differ on features, integrations, use cases, and customization options. If you’re looking for a good place to start, we suggest considering JivoChat.
JivoChat includes live chat and rules-based chatbots that allow you to communicate with customers no matter where they contact you: your website, your social media pages, or email. It integrates with 3rd party AI providers to add a layer of intelligence to your chatbots. This means you get all the benefits of our top-rated omnichannel chat platform together with the sophisticated automation AI brings.