customer service chatbot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a driving force across different business functions, be it customer service, sales or marketing. From automated customer support to sales assistance, AI allows businesses to better support their customer needs at many touchpoints along their journey.

With businesses adopting chatbot technology, customers are also willing to be helped by virtual assistants. Accenture says, “50% of consumers no longer care if they are dealing with humans or AI-enabled assistants”.

By using customer service chatbots, businesses can meet the top expectation in the customer wishlist i.e. getting prompt support round the clock. When brands offer real time engagement, there is an increase in customer satisfaction.

Businesses are able to foresee the benefits of implementing AI in their support processes, hence deploying chatbots for customer service helps to deliver a superior experience.

customer service chatbot — consumer reaction to bad customer service

Source: American Express

Every business has different chatbot use cases on how they can get quick help along with better engagement.

AI enabled chatbots dramatically help businesses to enhance their customer experience and achieve faster growth. With chatbots for customer service, you can resolve endless common queries at scale.

Here are the key areas for how customer service chatbots help businesses to deliver better support.

  1. Deliver instant customer support
  2. 24×7 availability
  3. Deliver seamless hybrid support along with live chat
  4. Easy scalability
  5. Reduce your cost of customer support with bots
  6. Reduce support tickets
  7. Collect customer feedback & information
  8. Automate your social media support
  9. Minimize IVR frustrations
  10. Better chatbot support = higher customer happiness!!

How AI chatbots improve your customer service experience

Businesses are choosing AI chatbots as an integral part of customer service. There are several reasons for that but the biggest reason is the time saved: since chatbots resolve simple questions quickly, your team has more time to tackle more complex queries.

Bots help businesses to save operational costs and improve response time that enhances the customer service experience.

Let’s discuss the top advantages of using chatbots for customer service and increase customer loyalty.

#1. Deliver instant customer support

Long queue times scare away the customers. The Retail Executive Survey found out that businesses lost 75% of customers due to waiting times. Hence, one of the greatest customer frustrations is not able to get an instant response.

Chatbot solution is the best for providing real time sales and support assistance for simple queries. Bots can be used as the first point of contact to reduce customer frustration, and make human handover when needed.

So, how chatbot services help in delivering instant support? You can train your customer service chatbots with content resources like tutorials, FAQs, knowledgebase so that they can anticipate the customer needs and deliver relevant answers. They reduce the wait time significantly and increase customer satisfaction.

Amtrak’s Julie is a good example of customer service chatbots.

Julie quickly and accurately responds to questions from a comprehensive knowledge base on travel information and policies from across the Amtrak system. The bot has answered approximately 5,000,000 support queries in a year. Amtrak witnesses 25% of a significant increase in bookings and 30% more revenue with the help of Julie.

Pro tips:

  • If your business receives repetitive queries, implementing chatbots can be a wise way to provide instant support without making customers wait.
  • Even if chatbots are not able to solve a problem immediately, they can at least provide an instant response relevant to the customer’s query. It creates a good impression on your customer of the brand being responsive.

#2. 24×7 availability

The time that customers spend waiting on hold, and how they feel, is a big frustration for average customers. 43% of consumers expect 24×7 customer service from online retailers, and 36% expect customer service to be available for approximately 12 hours a day/7 days a week, e.g. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The direct outcome of 24×7 availability is obviously increasing the resolution speed. Providing quick response and fixing an issue in a first contact itself is one BIG differentiating factor when it comes to retaining customers. This is one of the top reasons why chatbots are being deployed for delivering superior customer service round the clock.

Customer service chatbots being well trained with the comprehensive resources and provide quick responses, any time, even when the support team is unavailable. Being able to engage customers at their preferred time improves satisfaction and loyalty towards your brand.

Pro tips:

  • Bots are always active to engage your customers by providing instant answers to common queries, which improves customer satisfaction.
  • With customer support chatbots, you can reduce the number of support tickets raised by addressing simple queries instantly.
  • By having chatbots in place, you can allow agents to focus more on the critical aspects of customer service.

#3. Deliver seamless hybrid support along with live chat

Businesses who want to provide live chat support can have three options: live chat, chatbots or a hybrid approach of using both. The right balance of both the communication channels helps to deliver better customer support.

Before you go into details of hybrid support, you need to understand when to use live chat vs chatbot by learning the pros and cons of both platforms.

customer service chatbot — chatbot vs live chat

Following hybrid support empowers you to make a balance between providing relaxation to your support team and offering qualified services to your leads. It will be like embedding your bot in the first stage and putting human support on the backstage.

Businesses can automate the repetitive queries with bots and the complex queries can be seamlessly transferred to the human agent.

Pro tips:

  • There is a seamless transition between the chatbot and human agents so that customers do not face any inconvenience.
  • Hybrid support reduces the number of touchpoints for overall resolution. When the bot is unable to resolve the query, it is directed to the agent for an effective solution in the first contact itself.

#4. Easy scalability

Having an option to scale its support is the first thing any customer-centric business can ask for. There are times when you expect a hike in traffic like the festive seasons or peak hours.

But how do you estimate to handle such scenarios?

In the event of managing your conversations during peak hours, you can encounter challenges such as adding more support experts, providing training, etc. Adding customer service chatbots provides the scalability potential for your business and overcomes all the challenges.

AI bots can be easily scaled when required to handle endless conversations by providing real time assistance. With chatbots for customer service, you can improve your business productivity without any extra costs and resources.

Let me explain with a simple example. If your business receives 100 chats daily and suddenly there is a 200% hike in the chats. How to manage such an unpredictable scenario? It is really not possible for your support agents to handle those many chats and deliver real time quality assistance. With customer service chatbots, you can scale your chats during peak time so that your resources are managed effectively.

Pro tips:

  • You can easily balance scalability with both chatbots and live chat. The simple queries will be managed by the bot and the complex queries are handed over for human support.
  • If you are a small & medium business (SMB) and customer service is the key priority, using a chatbot can help you to scale easily whenever required.
  • Bots can engage in endless conversations irrespective of time and volume that brings business growth as well as customer satisfaction.

#5. Reduce your cost of customer support with bots

There are many chatbot benefits of how businesses can optimize their costs without compromising their customer service quality. One of the remarkable benefits of the chatbot is saving operational costs. It is important for businesses to harness the benefits of deploying chatbots to optimize business costs.

Adding more support agents requires extra time and costs in terms of agent salaries, customer service training and infrastructure costs. These expenses cannot be overlooked as it is never a cheap affair.

By deploying customer service chatbots, you can handle numerous conversations at the same time. This makes it an excellent solution to deal with an increased volume of customer requests while keeping costs reasonable.

Investing in Artificial Intelligent for customer support helps businesses to optimize costs and deliver a great chatbot customer experience.

Pro tips:

  • As a business, you can estimate when can you be the peak time for your business so that you can deploy chatbots for that particular time.
  • If your cost per chat is high, you can implement customer support chatbot to handle conversations efficiently without extra investment.
  • You can train your customer service bots regularly with the FAQs to make your bots more intelligent to answer accurately.

#6. Reduce support tickets

IBM estimates that 265 billion customer support tickets and calls are made globally every year, resulting in $1.3 trillion in customer service costs.

Automating the simple queries with a customer service bot helps to provide instant answers that reduce the number of support tickets raised by customers.

The company increased employee productivity by 3.5 times. And their customer satisfaction increased by 22 percent. As one of the important KPI of customer service is “how many tickets resolve per day?” it provides immense time for agents to focus on priority tasks.

The chatbots designed for customer service help to resolve the simple queries in the first go and improve first contact resolution. Bots help in freeing up agents’ time for complex service tasks.

Pro tips:

  • You can automate the simple queries such as order status, return policy and delivery time with bots so that you can manage your bots efficiently.
  • Customer support bots are the best way to deliver error-free service and avoid complications. As chatbots are programmed with all the information there is minimal chance of errors with higher accuracy assured.

#7. Collect customer feedback & information

Customer feedback is vital for every business. By collecting customer feedback you can know how far your customers are satisfied with your products and services. For businesses, however, it is difficult to get your customers to fill up feedback forms or answer questionnaires.

How chatbot support helps in collecting feedback?

Customer service bots make the process interactive, quick, and easy. You can trigger a bot to collect feedback at any of the various important stages of your customer’s journey, such as at the end of the chat conversation or purchase of a product.

By implementing chatbot services, you gain a better feedback loop and improve customer relationships while providing better data to the business.

Pro tips:

  • Customer feedback helps you to know the areas to improve in your products, services or bot flow for better interaction.
  • You can use chatbot support to gather the preliminary information before connecting the user to the right support representative can shorten the wait times for customers and make customer support agents more efficient.

#8. Automate your social media support

Users are rapidly turning to social media to request and receive customer service. However, the majority of these requests were not addressed timely or even not addressed at all. Chatbots can overcome this problem through automated generated responses for users’ requests on social media.

Social bots seamlessly carry conversations with users, with the purpose of assisting them. They help in building stronger relationships with customers by delivering targeted content and anticipating user reactions.

With social media bots, you can connect with customers more efficiently. You can respond to the user requests, comments on time, which improves the experience. Many sectors like retail, travel, entertainment and even health and finance can use social bots as assistants. They help you grow your social image by providing real-time customer support

One good customer service chatbot example is Lufthansa Airlines Elisa bot on Facebook Messenger.

customer service chatbot — Facebook messenger

Lufthansa Group designed a customer support bot to help users find and book cheap flights without ever leaving their iPhone.The bot is bilingual, speaking both English and German and is extremely easy to use. In order to boost customer satisfaction, the bot is made available on other channels such as airline apps, Whatsapp.

#9. Minimize IVR frustrations

You can not find a single customer who likes to use the interactive voice response (IVR) systems during phone calls. It is time-consuming listening to the menu and still not getting personalized responses.

Some of the IVR inconveniences faced by the customers are calls routed to the wrong teams, hang up of calls, limited options offered, etc.

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Chatbots for customer service is the best way for customers to get relief from the frustrating IVR system. The straightforward answers without having to wait for or choose options indeed improves user satisfaction.

Pro tips:

  • If the wait time is one of the main concerns for your business, customer support bots can engage customers instantly. The bot automatically routes the chats to the right team automatically for quick and effective resolution without making users wait.
  • You as a business can save time and cost as well as improve team productivity by handling chats quickly and efficiently.

#10. Better chatbot support = higher customer happiness!!

Three in five millennials have used chatbots at least once in their lives. It means customers are happy using a chatbot and habituated to it. When you build chatbots for customer service, one of the fundamental practices is defining the end goal of the bot.

Once the bot is deployed, you need to find out if your chatbot is meeting your goals. But the question is how do you identify if the customer support chatbot is meeting the end goals as planned. In order to find that you need to measure whether your customers are happy interacting with your bot? Is your bot able to meet their expectations?

The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT ) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) are the key metrics to measure your customer service. With the help of the KPIs, you will be able to know how far your customers are happening interacting with your bot. You can improve your bot flow based on the scores to improve chatbot customer experience.

When customers have few positive experiences communicating with brands via chatbot, they will look for the same convenience in other interactions. Customer service chatbots can help you create a consistent brand experience for your customers.

Pro tips:

  • You have to evaluate your CSAT score or NPS score of your bot conversations and understand whether your customers are happy with the bot or not.
  • Based on your measurement scores, you should really check if both are helping or not. And you need to revisit the flow/design to make sure if it is helping customers.
  • You should monitor performance regularly to enhance customer satisfaction rates.

Final thoughts

Artificial Intelligence is greatly changing how businesses support their customers. Bots are becoming an integral part of user engagement strategies. By using a customer service chatbots, you can provide immediate responses and reduce the chances of two-way human intervention. Thus, reducing the operational costs and results in greater levels of customer satisfaction.

Going further, chatbots will be using the advanced capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to understand the context and sentiments of customer queries so that the response is similar to users’ language.

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How Chatbots are Transforming Customer Service with AI was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.