We’re big believers in the value that chatbots can bring to any brand and their customers. In fact, we’d even go as far as saying that chatbots are the ideal customer self-service companions for rounding out a brand’s end-to-end customer service experience. Even so, there are still a number of misconceptions floating around about chatbots.
This has caused many brands and businesses to think twice about the truly beneficial role they can play in managing, streamlining, and even enhancing important customer interactions. So here in this article, we’ll take a closer look at three key reasons why every brand should make the smart choice now to unleash the power of chatbots as a core customer self-service solution.
Brands must be where their customers need them
The purpose of this article isn’t to talk about what chatbots are and what they can do. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to see chatbots in a new light. By no means are they intended to be the end all, be all of your customer service efforts, nor are they meant to replace your living, breathing customer support agents. As a companion to your total customer service experience, however, they can go a long way towards making your customers a lot happier.
After all, when it comes to customer service, the end goal for practically every business is customer satisfaction. But delivering a stellar customer service experience goes well beyond boosting customer happiness alone. Today, it simply makes good business sense.
In fact, Bain & Company found that companies exceling most on the customer experience front tend to grow their revenues four to eight percent more than those that simply maintain the status quo. This sheds light on why over two-thirds of businesses now see themselves actively competing on the basis of customer experience above everything else, including price.
Whether this is in response to a massive shift in consumer behavior or simply a reminder that customer expectations are increasing more and more each day, about 86% of consumers say they will now pay more for a product or service if it means they’ll have a better customer experience as a result of that purchase decision. Conversely, numerous studies have shown that poor customer experiences are one of the leading factors driving customer churn. Over half of consumers around the world have even said they would stop doing business with a company based on a single bad customer service experience.
The writing is (and always has been) on the wall: Brands cannot afford to provide subpar customer experiences. They need to be the eyes, ears, and voice of the customer, always one step ahead in anticipating customer needs. Customer self-service solutions can do this.
Chatbots are the key to better customer service experiences
There are a lot of things you can do to make every customer interaction pleasant, frictionless, and even memorable. Customer self-service solutions, like chatbots, are just one piece of the puzzle.
When you deploy them with your customers’ needs squarely in mind, it can make all the difference between a good experience and a bad experience or, looking at it another way, the factor that separates a loyal customer from one who’s already flirting with the competition.
Today, the stakes are high. Consumers have more choice than ever before. You must go above and beyond to ensure that every interaction they have with your brand delivers exactly what they need from you—whether it’s finding information on a product or service or addressing a customer service issue. Your customers rely on you to save the day.
But they don’t want to contact customer support anymore. In fact, 79% of consumers today say that they expect businesses to provide self-service support tools to help them find answers without having to contact support. Consumers today want to be autonomous just as much as they want the information they need to be readily available and accessible to them at all times.
Chatbots are a great way to manage these expectations. If you haven’t yet deployed a customer self-service chatbot to amplify your broader customer service efforts, here’s why you should:
1. Chatbots can’t exist without humans
Contrary to popular—or rather, conspiratorial—belief, chatbots aren’t here to steal the jobs of human customer support agents. First off, their knowledge is created by humans. They aren’t turn-key solutions that come ‘out of the box’ automatically knowing how to answer every customer question imaginable.
While technology continues to become more advanced each day, it still needs a starting point. That needs to come from humans. So in this way, it’s important to remember that we, as humans, must train chatbots to do what we need them to do—and then, with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, let them learn and grow to be more effective over time on their own. (And with a little bit of our help, too!)
More importantly, however, there are an infinite number of customer needs that can pop up at any time. Chatbots aren’t designed to handle those kinds of complex customer issues, which will always require some level of human intervention to find a solution.
But what’s great about chatbots is that they can sit alongside human customer support agents, taking a lot of easily automated customer inquiries (see below) off their plates so they have more time to do what they do best: resolving customer issues and, of course, making customers happy.
So to make sure this point wasn’t lost somewhere along the way, we’ll say it again: Chatbots are not replacing human jobs now or any time in the near future. That’s not their role. If anything, they’re simply going to make customer support agents even more effective.
2. Chatbots are designed to manage precise requests flawlessly
Here’s where the real value of chatbots lies. On any given day, and regardless of whether or not you have this information easily accessible somewhere on your site, you will inevitably get a flurry of customer inquiries—via phone, email, or live chat—about mundane, transactional questions like, “What are your store operating hours?,” “What are your return policies?,” “How can I buy a ticket online,” or “How can I file a claim?.” And the list goes on.
These kinds of FAQ-oriented questions don’t need human intervention. They are “copy-paste” questions that a well-trained chatbot can surface effortlessly. So why waste the time and energy of your customer support agents on handling these questions when they can so easily be automated via chatbots—and a robust knowledge base?
The answer is simple: You shouldn’t. Time is money today—for your business and for your customers. The truth is, the faster your customers get answers to their questions, the happier they’ll be. And if a chatbot isn’t able to provide an adequate answer, it can seamlessly pass the baton to a support agent all within the same conversation thread. It’s one single experience for customers, who may not have even realised they were chatting with a bot in the first place.
Even more, within the context of a chatbot, you can surface upsell opportunities or other enticing calls to action to get customers to convert more effectively. This will only benefit your business in the long-term. While these simple inquiries are being managed expertly by chatbots, your customer support agents will have a bit more breathing room to provide dedicated support to the customers who are really in a pickle. It’s a win-win across the board.
3. Chatbots operate around the clock
Not all brands have the resources to staff support centres 24 hours a day. But what happens when a customer reaches out during off-peak hours? As a first line of defense, chatbots can start by tackling up to 70% of tier-1 inquiries (i.e. those simple requests mentioned above).
And if the issue is too complex for them to handle, they can collect customer information and make sure the inquiry is passed onto a customer support agent the following day. Either way, whether a customer issue is resolved on-the-spot or requires human intervention at a later time, the interaction that takes place via a chatbot is instantaneous. It’s an immediate way to reassure customers that your brand is there to help them, regardless of the real-time outcome.
It’s not too late to get on the chatbot bandwagon
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why customer self-service chatbots simply make sense. Not only can they relieve your customer support agents from having to tackle every tier-1 request that comes their way, but they can provide your customers with immediate and accurate answers to their most frequent questions.
At a time when consumers expect more from brands than ever before, brands must pull out all the stops to provide an exceptional customer service experience every step along the customer journey. Chatbots can play a critical role in making your brand more competitive on the customer experience front—all while keeping your customers happy and loyal at the same time.
To learn more about how our self-service chatbots can help you deliver a better customer service experience, be sure to download our Chatbot checklist today.