How to decide whether your company really needs a chatbot?

Chatbots are taking customer experience a notch higher. They help improve the way customers interact with the company. Instead of waiting to connect with a human voice, customers can pose their queries to the chatbot and receive answers instantly. An essential benefit of chatbots is that they are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Even if there is an emergency that restricts humans from helping clients, chatbots can provide the necessary support. Another advantage of a chatbot is that it significantly reduces human employees' need by handling trivial functions like collecting customer information and providing answers to trivial queries. Thus, your workforce can focus on critical issues that require human creativity and intelligence. 

 

An important thing to remember is that chatbots are of various types. Both are chatbots — from Amazon's Alexa smart speaker to a virtual agent on your company's support service page. It all depends on what kind of chatbot you are looking for. Chatbots that are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help companies in many ways. They can combine customer-centric information such as the follows:

 

a. Geographic location

b. Demographic details 

c. Psychographic details

d. Behavioral details

e. Past purchasing pattern

f. Buying behavior

g. Market details

 

When you have such a detailed collection of information about your customers, competitors, and the market, you can do wonders. You can identify the customer's intent — What are their goals and ambitions and what they are planning to buy and when?

 

Now let's focus on this article's central question: Is a customer service agent right for your company?

 

First things first. Customer service agents are excellent for service-heavy industries like telecommunication, transportation, retail, financial services, etc. If your company belongs to any of these industries and you deal with thousands of customers daily, then chatbots will do wonders for you. They can learn from millions of interactions every day and improve their response rate and answer quality. The Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can refine themselves over time and become better with each passing day. On the contrary, if you deal with only a handful of clients, then chatbots wouldn't be your best bet. They will prove to be an excellent resource for improving customer experience only if they have tons of data to learn from. 

 

Secondly, it's an expensive process because you need to have a big network of support service agents serving an extensive client database. That means you are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in providing top-notch customer support. 

 

The need for chatbots is increasing rapidly. The following example illustrates this beautifully. Dish Network has set up multiple call centers to address customer queries regarding billing and installation effectively. After some time, they installed a new virtual agent named "DiVa" to handle about 30% of the customer intents, which amounts to 4 million customer interactions in a year. It helps customers set up the remote for their television sets and extend the payment deadline in case of emergencies. DiVa handles about 40% of customer intents and is rapidly increasing the number of intents it can take simultaneously. 

 

But chatbots also have some limitations. They haven't reached a stage where they can manage "conversational commerce" efficiently. First, let's understand what it means. Conversational commerce allows customers to buy products and subscribe to services through voice. Although it's a cool idea to empower the customer's voice, it's not as effective as it seems. 

 

Statistics show that only 2% of customers use Amazon's Alexa smart speakers to buy products from the Amazon store. Experts tell us the reasons behind it. Firstly, customers like to get a 360-degree perspective of the product that they want to buy. For example, if they are looking for an air conditioner, they will like to get detailed information on the following topics:

 

a. Tonnage

b. Energy efficiency

c. Split or Window AC

d. Installation, Cleaning, and Maintenance

e. Air quality

f. Cooling Speed

 

But smart speakers don't provide such a level of information to customers. On the other hand, websites and mobile applications are more comfortable to navigate and allow customers to make choices. They help them compare different products and make the right choice. Moreover, it's easier to navigate a sales application through a PC or smartphone when compared with a chatbot.

 

You will be amazed to know that there are more than 300,000 chatbots on Facebook messenger alone. Amazon also announced that it had sold more than 100 million Alexa smart speakers by the end of 2018. There is no doubt that the virtual agent market is hot, and companies are rushing to make huge profits. But there is a catch. Although these chatbots are ideal for handling small applications such as form filling, collecting customer-centric information, creating a FAQ section, and providing immediate response to customer queries. They aren't good when it comes to authenticating identity. For example, chatbots can offer you little help as far as banking is concerned. You can only check your current account balance and see the transactions that you have done previously. 

 

Another disadvantage of using chatbots is related to privacy. Most customers and retailers are worried about data security issues and shy away from sharing personal details on chatbots. They fear that Amazon Alexa might eavesdrop on private data and use it for their benefit. Similarly, Facebook hasn't committed to monitoring how companies are using their chatbots. So if critical data is leaked, the company won't be responsible for it. 

 

Few banks have launched their platforms for running their chatbots. They don't use public platforms like Facebook, thereby significantly increasing their security. Like Bank of America has launched its own chatbot "Erica" that runs on an indigenously developed mobile application. The bank has made it very clear that customers will have to take physical action to interact with Erica, eliminating the fear that other companies or people can eavesdrop on critical customer information. 

 

What is CRM software, and how can it help you deploy a chatbot?

 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is an integrated application system that helps you form robust and long-lasting relationships with your clients. Do you know that acquiring new customers is approximately five times more expensive than retaining the existing ones? 

 

CRM provides significant benefits across all business departments like sales, marketing, and business analytics. But it plays a significant role in improving the company's customer satisfaction score. It does that by integrating with chatbots that help customers in the ways mentioned in this article. 

 

Conclusion

Customer Service experience has grown tremendously in the last few decades. Chatbots are the newest spoke in the wheel of technological evolution that started with the Internet in the '90s and continued with mobile applications in the 2010s. This article helped you discover the various benefits of chatbots and how they can help companies deliver exceptional customer service. 

Remember that chatbots provide the best service when they are used along with CRM software. So it's advisable that you get a new CRM software based on your company's needs and wants and then upgrade it by integrating a chatbot. Initially, you can start by using a public chatbot, and as your customer database grows, you can indigenously develop your chatbot to provide advanced services to your clients. 


 

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