More and more businesses are using AI-powered chatbots on websites, mobile apps, Facebook pages, and other digital channels to communicate with their customers. If you’re wondering whether you should follow suit, here’s some information to help you make a decision.
Interacting with the earliest versions of chatbots was usually time-consuming and frustrating. They were only equipped to respond to very specific input and were unable to process information outside of certain parameters.
This was far less appealing than talking to a real person. However, AI changed this and natural language processing, a branch of AI, enables bots to mimic human language. They are able to identify user intent behind the text or voice and deliver a response that matches it.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is an artificial intelligence system used by businesses to communicate with customers. A bot, depending upon its AI and software, can answer both basic questions, such as “When does your store open?” as well as more complex ones.
But understanding language requires more than just understanding words. The context in which words appear, syntax, grammar, dialects, etc., make understanding difficult for computers. The technology behind a more complex chatbot is natural language processing (NLP), which makes it possible by teaching computers how to understand the human language. In fact, chatbots are only one of the many uses of natural language processing in business.
Different types of chatbots include rule-based ones and self-learning retrieval-based bots that can select a response from a library of predefined responses to specific questions. Self-learning generative bots are intelligent bots that use NLP to “learn” from past conversations and this improves their ability to give appropriate responses, making them very useful in customer service situations.
Why you should use a chatbot
Chatbot technology is being used by many businesses today to deliver personalized conversation to resolve customer issues.
Customers complain about traditional call centers, saying they have to press multiple buttons, are often left on hold, and may need to explain a problem over and over to different agents.
Call centers that operate automatically without needing human agents can solve such problems. Unlike humans, bots work around the clock without getting ill or moody. Their service remains consistent and customers can rely on them at any time of the day or night.
Quick answers to simple queries
Chatbots usually have a huge repository of answers to expected questions. They look at a question, try to understand what type of question it is and then find the best answer within a set of answers and give it back to the user. If a chatbot can’t answer a query, it routes customers to available agents.
Take customer experience to the next level
Chatbots can engage with consumers, identify leads at the right time and push them towards the next step in the sales funnel. They can engage with multiple customers at once, send product offers and updates regularly and give intelligent shopping suggestions. They may give advice about upcoming sales and much more.
Chatbots that are not powered by AI may deliver a generic greeting, offer a standard list of menu options, and can only resolve a pre-set list of queries or issues. Artificial intelligence removes these limitations and bots can engage with customers contextually and tailor their conversations with them.
For example, if a user visits a website page focused on a specific service, the chatbot can infer the person is primarily interested in that service and begin a conversation with content relevant to that service. The conversation is relevant to the user right from the start and the user doesn’t have to click through various menu options. When a chatbot can grab a customer’s attention and immediately address needs, users are more likely to interact with it.
Bank of America has an advanced chatbot that is capable of handling most customer queries. Erica, the virtual financial assistant in the mobile app, uses predictive analytics to anticipate customers’ needs. She makes money management much simpler for customers. They can watch their bank balance, get a weekly snapshot of spending, receive bill reminders and much more.
Prepare agents for high impact conversations
AI-powered chatbots collect information at the beginning of an interaction. They initiate a conversation and ask for the details needed to assist a user, including details like an account number, contact information, order number and payment details.
When a support agent steps in, no additional time has to be spent on asking the basic questions. Agents are able to use their time more efficiently and focus on dealing with issues too complex for chatbots.
Chatbots can also prompt a human operator to take over a call if they detect a customer is becoming irate. Thanks to sentiment analysis, they can not only understand what is being said but the emotion behind it.
The cost of chatbot development is high but running costs are negligible. Bots don’t need salaries, perks or benefits. They can do mundane tasks quicker than humans, answer multiple calls and perform their tasks without errors.
They seamlessly gather customer data, analyze it and deliver insights that help with making business decisions. All of this helps to reduce running costs and improve the bottom line.
Where chatbots can fall short
Chatbots gather sensitive information from customers while interacting with them. If this data is compromised, companies can lose goodwill and face legal battles.
Chatbots also still fall short when it comes to understanding more subtle human emotions. Sophisticated bots are trained in sentiment analysis but most chatbots still fail to understand subtle human emotions.
A final word
Some businesses are still reluctant to use chatbots as they feel customers would rather speak to a human than a machine. However, chatbots are an excellent way to deliver better customer service. If you want to ensure tiptop customer service, you need to consider using an AI-powered chatbot.