The digitalization wave has changed the way businesses interact with customers while also changing their expectations. Chatbots have become a major player in making this digital transformation possible.
Chatbots bring conversational experiences into every stage of the customer journey. Traditionally used for customer support, the capabilities of these virtual assistants have been extended to handle sales and marketing use cases, allowing them to improve customer satisfaction for every interaction with conversational AI.
Here we breakdown the benefits and limitations of chatbots, so businesses can create memorable customer experiences through digital transformation.
Chatbot models and uses
Chatbots have proven to be a useful tool from the discovery stage to post-purchase and re-engagement. Automating interactions throughout the customer journey has given way for two main chatbot models to be introduced:
Rule-based model: Based on automating question and answer sequences, ideal for customer support
- Answering FAQs
- Booking appointments
- Delivery status inquiries
- Loyalty membership inquiries
CX driven model: creating engagement with customers in order to upsell products and services, ideal for marketing and sales
- Welcome messages
- Promotional messages
- Discount codes
- Advertising new products and services
- Cart abandonment notifications
- Targeted ads
Why use a chatbot?
Automation brings many benefits to business, on the forefront is the reduction of costs for support services. A chatbot can respond to FAQ type questions, easing the workload for agents and allowing them to focus on complex issues.
Juniper Research reported that chatbots will save businesses $8 billion in customer support costs by automating interactions.
Millennials are willing to wait up to 10 minutes for support, with this number expected to decrease with the newer generations.
Chatbot responses are immediate. There is no need to wait in a long queue for a call center agent because chatbots can juggle multiple customers and conversations at once. Customer satisfaction will improve with instant responses and little to no wait times.
Chatbots can take on the workload of ten support agents and be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers no longer need to wait to contact businesses during their working hours. Instead, they can find accessible support at any time that suits them.
Top 3 mistakes businesses make when deploying chatbots
Chatbots are complex tools that businesses need to think critically about before launching. Here are the top three mistakes businesses make when launching a chatbot, and how to mitigate them:
1. Copy and paste tactics
Taking existing web content or IVR menus and repurposing them for a chatbot is not ideal practice. This usually leads to long menus, hard-to-read messages, and robotic answers
Think about what content adds value to your customer and your business. What questions are they asking and what are their most common grievances? Based on this, create easy-to-understand menus and short messages to quickly solve queries. Set clear expectations for the chatbot on how it can help solve customer support issues and improve the quality of customer experience.
2. No defined persona
Often, chatbots have no defined persona. This might seem like a neutral approach to designing a chatbot, but in reality, you are allowing your customers to unconsciously construct a persona. The tone of the message, writing style, chatbot name and display image all contribute to their impression of the chatbot and your business.
Designing a chatbot strategy that includes a clearly defined persona is essential. Clearly outline how you want your audience to perceive your business and design a persona that reflects your goals. The chatbot persona should be a functional part of your brand identity and should add value to each interaction and use case you deploy.
3. No optimization strategy
For many companies, their work is done after the launch of their chatbot. In some cases, changes are made without considering any data, and optimization becomes shooting in the dark.
Optimization using relevant data is critical to ensure chatbots are successful and should be included in every strategy plan for customer experience to improve.
Chatbots that provide the greatest value are optimized based on collected user interactions. Important data for rule-based and intent-based chatbots includes which part of the chatbot is most used and where do users drop off or lose interest. From this, businesses can determine what to adjust, add or remove to make the chatbot more user-friendly.
Balancing automation and human communications
Chatbots are intelligent. They offer immediate responses and can convey information using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to give a human touch to automated conversations.
But chatbots are only as intelligent as we can program them to be. Live agents still play a major role in making sure customer experiences are smooth and enjoyable.
Chatbots are useful when they allow you to automate repetitive interactions, such as FAQs or scheduling appointments. But they do have boundaries. Machine learning and AI are reliant on immense amounts of data and complicated language and requests can be too much for chatbots to handle.
Chatbots can be used in almost every industry. With each industry comes a set of specific terms and thousands of words for a chatbot to learn. To add to the complexity of language, each of us writes differently, we make syntax and grammatical errors, and, in some cases, people make a habit of mixing languages. These are all the conditions a chatbot must be equipped to deal with in order to offer great customer experiences.
Trying to bring chatbots too close to the human experience to maximize efficiency has businesses risking bad user experience. Businesses should first adopt a simple chatbot model to replace repetitive processes. After some time, they can move to a more complex system that is fed by the company’s own databases to improve efficiency.
The key is to understand when to transfer a customer to a live agent to ensure that their experience is as flawless and simple as possible. Transfers are ideal in the following scenarios:
- If the chatbot loops round the same response three times
- The user asks a question the chatbot is not equipped to answer
- If the user uses all caps or profanity
A chatbot is designed to understand these kinds of scenarios as triggers to transfer to an agent. This artificial intelligence goes beyond keyword recognition and simple patterns. These chatbots can understand user intent and language, which means they will be programmed to know when it’s time for human-to-human interaction.
The future of chatbots
The need for advanced chatbots is growing since digitalization has taken a front seat in many customer engagement and experience strategies.
Presently, AI chatbots are confined to writing. Although we have moved past simple patterns and menu-based chatbots, written words are still the primary way to communicate with chatbots. In the future, voice will become more dominant allowing for customers to use speech over written text to interact with businesses.
Voicebots will have the capability to recognize speech characteristics. The analysis of tone of voice and how it changes in a conversation carries a lot of meaning and can help businesses better understand their customers’ needs and pain points. If a voicebot can recognize these characteristics, then conversational experience can be taken to the next level.
But will voicebots ever replace the need for live agent support? We asked our VP of Products, Krešo Žmak:
I don’t think live agents can be replaced. Voicebots will improve the communication channel, because talking is easier than writing and sentiment analysis will help improve communication. But one point remains: a chatbot is not as cognitive as a human; it doesn’t have its own intelligence and industry specific issues are too complex to depend only on chat or voicebots.Krešo Žmak
While we cannot say for sure if these intelligent support assistants will ever replace the need for live agents in the future, their capabilities continue to grow.
Digital transformation is not slowing down now that users are dependent on digital platforms and channels in their everyday lives.
Companies have matured and understand how to use chatbots better than ever before. Avoiding repetitive actions and improving the efficiency of live agents allows businesses to provide better customer experiences while reducing costs.
You might also like
Ready to start building the perfect chatbot?