From Uber to Tinder, digital consumers are getting everything that they desire exactly when and where they want it. Instant gratification economy is thriving. This rising customer demand of immediate responsiveness from brands has put the business under acute pressure of delivering reliable customer support across all channels.
Seeming like the “simpletons of the AI world”, bots have literally surrounded and offered compelling advantages to customers. Leading brands like Staples, Dominos and Capital One have invested significantly in chatbots to offer excellent customer support.
Soon after Facebook rolled out its bot-building platform for Messenger, over 11,000 bots surfaced online. And now with instant-messaging apps (like Whatsapp, Slack, Skype, etc.) already beating social media platforms in popularity, many experts predict the number of bots to rise exponentially. In September 2016, Facebook Messenger declared that it had more than 30,000 chatbots available. TechEmergence predicts that chatbots will be the number one consumer applications of AI over the next five years.
Gone are the days when building and maintaining relationships with customers could be easily done by recruiting an account rep, who’d handle customers’ questions or concerns. Not anymore. Chatbots are the new custom support function and strong indicators of the customers’ shift from a human-powered customer support to a self-discovery model. Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a company without interacting with a single human.
Why Use Bots for Customer Support?
Today’s digitally empowered consumers find it frustrating to go through the process of lodging their complaints or questions via email or phone and then waiting indefinitely to get a response from the brands. Businesses need to solve this pain point and be able to respond instantly. It’s interesting to note that 91% of unsatisfied customers never return for repeat purchases or services. Chatbots come into play here and dramatically reduce the chances of losing the customers. Not only this, chatbots play a significant role in delivering delightful customer support by greeting them, resolving their issues and also letting them know the exact turnaround time for the response to their questions, in case those are not available immediately.
Shopify, an e-commerce platform for small businesses, has had massive success with its chatbots – Kit – that empowers Shopify store owners in driving more sales by doing a myriad of marketing activities such as running Facebook ads, running reports, etc.
Did you know – Chatbots can help reduce customer service costs by 30%?
Businesses spend $1.3 trillion on 265 billion customer service calls each year. The automated Chatbots can accelerate the response times and free up human agents to handle more complex issues. These Chatbots are well suited to respond to as many as 80% of the routine queries (troubleshooting, customer education cases) asked by the customers. This can save up to 30% in customer support cost.
Many superior chatbots deliver a customer experience that makes it tough for the customers to distinguish a virtual assistant from a human agent. Typically, chatbots answer customer questions based on keywords. However, NLP and machine learning augment the capabilities of chatbots from algorithmic actions based on keywords to understand the context and intent of the customers.
Besides cost reduction, chatbots do offer other business advantages too like improvement in NPS and customer satisfaction score. Chatbots trim the response time window, enhance the customer experience and improve the first-time resolution to their issues. The brand image also receives a boost with a chatbot positioning it as an innovator in the market and outpacing the competitors in the tech game.
Chatbots matter for a few key reasons in customer support:
- The chatbots are available 24/7: Excellent customer support is about delivering quick, frictionless solutions to customers’ queries, issues or questions, round the clock. A chatbot offers a powerful and cost-effective solution for businesses to offer 24/7 customer support. It can also recognize and understand human emotions such as anger, joy, fear, etc. In case of a scenario where the customer is annoyed or upset, a chatbot can transfer the task to a human agent to deal with and help the customer in getting a seamless resolution to the issue(s).
- The chatbots offer frictionless point in customer service: Calling up the company for product issues and then hearing the on-hold music is one of the most frustrating points in customer service since it’s too boring and time consuming. A chatbots does not make the customer wait on the phone. According to a HBR survey, customer service has a significant effect on corporate image since 65% of the people who contacted the customer service department of various companies reported a negative experience.
- The chatbots offer personalized customer experience: Chatbots focus on the underlying data ecosystem, powered by support interactions. The faster the chatbots processes and responds to data and feeds the human agent this customer data, the better personalized experiences customers get. Fashion tech business that works with the UK retail giants- Dressipi – recently built a chatbot that customers can leverage in-store to scour the best apparels for them, and recommendations being completely personalized for that person. H&M– a fashion clothing brand has also launched its chatbot on Kik.
Chatbots have already stepped in almost all the industries – from hospitality & travel and healthcare to fashion, finance and fitness industry, all with the sole purpose of offering excellent customer support and delightful customer experience.
Looking Ahead to the Bot Future
The future of chatbots will gyrate around their ability to know the users and understand their needs well. Will the chatbots ever gain the intelligence level to become wiser enough and replace humans? Well that’s not the goal of the chatbots — supporting customers and making their lives better is.
Like the previous year, 2017 also witnessed chatbots increasingly becoming a core cmponent of the digital customer support mix to help businesses better serve customers and position the brands for the future. The cost to get off the sidelines and jump into this technology game is relatively low compared to big-budget initiatives.