Customer Service Chatbots Are The Future – Here’s Why

Chatbots can enhance the customer service experience. Here's a look at why bots are useful and how to use them correctly.

Throughout my many ventures, I’ve worked to improve customer experience. One of the most appealing technologies in recent years is the emergence of artificial intelligence to provide companies with the assistance they need to do more, and do it right.

My first concern was commonly expressed by others: When you hear that a chatbot is going to serve as a customer service representative, it seems more impersonal than usual. But I’ve since learned that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I entered the chatbot industry to delve deeper into how this technology can actually enhance the customer service experience for all types of industries. What I’ve learned is this: there is an opportune time and place to use a bot as part of your customer service experience.


Improve customer service with artificial intelligence

Here are 5 scenarios when a bot can help you — and when you really need a human to take charge:


1. Handle routine tasks

Many customer service interactions are routine, but they are just as important to the customer regardless. Bots can step in and handle these basic tasks, such as taking orders or answering questions about hours of operation and directions. When you provide customers an immediate answer to common questions they can be on their way, rather than wait for an email response. This also reduces call volume.


2. Redirect calls

Bots can determine where a call should be routed to improve response times and direct calls to employees that are too complex for the bot to remedy on its own.


3. Access data quickly

Engaging bots will solve your customers’ issues quickly and effectively. There is so much information available in a company. A bot can utilize its artificial intelligence to scan data and find the critical information that a customer service agent can use to provide assistance to a customer. This saves an extraordinary amount of time. Also, it gets the customer their answer much more quickly than waiting for an agent to sort through data themselves.


4. Respond to messages

Using a bot for a messaging app provides an immediate response to customers that might have otherwise taken minutes, which is essentially more time than the customer wants to wait.

Customers will be pleasantly surprised to receive an immediate answer when they use the messaging app on your website or social media profile. This gives you 24/7/365 customer service without the need to hire and pay for people to be available just in case someone contacts your company.


5. Handle communication touchpoints

You could also use a bot reach out to customers via text or email on the company’s behalf. This can be done after the bot scans databases to determine, based on a customer’s purchase history, whether they are ready to buy again.

Maybe a customer has an upcoming birthday and you want to offer a special promotion. Bots also do a good job at upselling, to offer a customer additional products or services as it senses what the customer is searching on the website. This is an excellent way to stay on top of promoting repeat sales without having to incur labor costs for this marketing effort.


Getting started with bots for customer service

If you are concerned that a bot could screw things up because the technology is still not yet widely adopted or mature, you may want to first use one internally.

See how the bot works, help the bot learn and get it up to speed. Discover how the bot uncovers patterns in previous customer interactions. This will help determine the most common customer questions and concerns so you can implement a bot to handle those issues.

This approach also gives you an opportunity to try out various types of customer service bots, including those that can be integrated with messaging apps. While bots aren’t necessarily ready for every industry, and many B2B applications may still pose significant challenges, they do have their place in many industries.

Bots are a useful way to improve customer service, they are not a replacement for human beings. They have a long way to go before they can assess and understand what a customer is saying in terms of tone and emotional state. To have a human join the conversation after the bot initializes the immediate response is an ideal way to approach the customer experience. This helps to create a more efficient and responsive customer service system.


This article has been edited.

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and a contributor at Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. Founder of Sighted. Connect with @MurrayNewlands on Twitter.


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