Rise of the Chatbots in Customer Experience

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This article was originally published here.

How chatbots are influencing customer experience?

It is not hard to imagine this scenario. We have all been there. I need to understand what this unfamiliar transaction on my bank account is. So, I dial the helpline of the bank and get to the IVR. I press a ton of options to remotely get to what I want to check on. The IVR is clearly not able to understand my query, let alone answer it successfully. So, I am asked to wait to talk to a customer service representative. This is, mind you, after pressing a minimum of 10 buttons. And then I am asked to wait. The wait is for over 15 minutes where I hear music that I don’t want to. And just when I hear that I am the next person and my call will shortly get connected to an executive, the line gets disconnected!

Cut to another scenario where I am looking to understand this unfamiliar transaction on my bank account. I log in to my account online and I can chat with a virtual assistant to get my query resolved within seconds. No pressing buttons, no long wait times, and absolutely no annoying music! This is what a chatbot can do!!

Touted as the future of customer experience, chatbots are artificial intelligence powered computer programs that simulate human conversations with other users through chats, website, mobile applications, SMS, and the like. They are applications that chat with humans in a manner as close to that as a human would, serving as virtual assistants.

Why are chatbots important for customer experience?

Reduce the resources used for customer support

Chatbots definitely reduce the cost for customer support and service, helping businesses reach operational efficiency. While there is no doubt that human intervention is needed to configure and optimize the chatbot, these are just one time costs. Once the process is set up, the costs of service can come down massively.

Reduce the need for resources

You’d not believe this – the other day I saw an interview being conducted by a chatbot! So, this digital media company was using a chatbot to take in details of the candidates for a job, ask for their sample writing tasks, and assign an evaluation task. Any resource needed for this purpose was eliminated! Imagine how many manhours of effort has been saved. All of this can be used for more customer-centric purposes.

Automate repetitive work

Customer service agents, many times, have to do repetitive tasks. When these tasks are automated, the effort can be used for other purposes.

For instance, a business could use chatbots to ease the onboarding process of a new customer by reminding them of the documents that need to be submitted. This would not require intervention by a customer service executive and the effort saved can be used for other purposes.

Reduce wait times

Because chatbots have access to a wide range of information, they can resolve the queries of the customer faster. Customers can also access them through various medium – either on the website, on Facebook messenger, on Slack,  or as a dedicated messenger. This makes their wait time significantly less than that required for reaching a human customer service representative or browsing a website to read the FAQs and resolve their queries.

Provide for 24*7 customer support

With the world becoming smaller by digitization and technology, customers are accessing their brands every single minute, every day. Also, they expect prompt responses from their brands too. Chatbots, in such cases, provide assistance all through, eliminating the dependency on humans.

Can enhance customer interaction with a brand

There is no denying that chatbots can greatly enhance the interaction of a customer with a brand. For instance, a chatbot on a retail website can help customers make informed decisions, replicating their experience in an actual brick-and-mortar store. At the convenience of their homes, customers can experience an enriched shopping experience.

Further, chatbots provide answers to specific questions that a customer or a potential customer might have. Because this interaction is so personalized and specific, customers do not have to read winding documents to resolve their queries. This provides for enhanced customer engagement.

Also, they can be used to engage more customers through targeted marketing campaigns.

Are flexible

Now, chatbots can be created to respond either through text or voice. Further, they can also be integrated into familiar channels such as Facebook messenger or Slack. This means that they can be used to cater to a variety of customers across many channels.

Improve overall customer experience

Due to the aforementioned benefits of reduced waiting times, round-the-clock support, and increased customer engagement, the overall experience of a customer with a brand also increases significantly.

Conclusion

In a study conducted by Oracle, 80% of the respondents said that they plan to use chatbots by 2020. Further, a study by Gartner has predicted that by 2020, 85% of the customer interactions will happen without a human intervention. In such a scenario, where automation and technology are reaching unprecedented levels, chatbots certainly are the future of a business. Businesses must leverage this technology to provide an enriched and personalized experience for their customers.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Sonal, while all the advantages that a bot- and AI infrastructure can bring are true, these can also be brought across the phone line. Why logging in to my account when I can achieve the same with a phone call, talking to the bot, which identifies me by voice and then does the same as you described. A rounded customer experience requires this ability, too.

    2 ct from Down Under
    Thomas
    @twieberneit

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