Imagine you are making an online purchase, but your credit card will not work. You call your bank and sit on a long hold. When you finally get ahold of an agent, they tell you they flagged the purchase, and they request your permission to remove the flag. After approving, you have to go back to the website and buy the item. After more than 30 minutes, you are finally able to complete your purchase. The only way for you to describe this interaction is slow and frustrating.
Unfortunately, anyone who has ever tried to contact a company via phone, or sometimes through traditional chat portals, can relate to this experience. Even with upgrades and defined best practices in customer experience and support, even the most straightforward customer interactions can be lagging as customers wait for an available agent and as agents attempt to sort through CRMs, support platforms, and knowledge bases. At the same time, the resolution can be slowed further customers when trying to explain what is on their computer as opposed to showing their screens.
Fortunately for consumers and contact centers, technology has opened doors for a faster and easier solution. With AI at their core, chatbots can have conversations with customers and quickly resolve issues in real time. A chatbot can respond to customer questions with the correct information, personalize the interaction, and build off previous communications using messenger apps, chat platforms, and other user interfaces.
How are chatbots benefiting customers?
From providing customer service and troubleshooting to presenting product recommendations and engaging new customers - chatbots can be useful in many aspects of the customer experience. When a customer is looking for advice, chatbots can be used to share favorite products or recommendations based on the customer’s previous purchases. In this way, chatbots are capable of acting as a personal shopper or concierge service to find the perfect gift, meal, outfit, or travel recommendation for a customer with just a few questions.
When a customer purchases a product and later has an issue, chatbots can also be used to share recommendations for how to fix the problem. When the solution requires an agent to intervene, a chatbot can gather the information necessary to address the concern.
Brands that successfully use chatbots are connecting with their customers, providing thought leadership, and adding personality to their products. In all use cases, brands are having success and increased engagement, loyalty, and revenue.
What could go wrong?
Like any customer interaction, customers are looking for a positive experience and trustworthy source of information when communicating with a chatbot. While there are many upsides to using chatbots as part of a well-rounded customer experience, there are also risks when they are not implemented correctly.
When chatbots are not carefully designed and implemented, they may drive customers away from a brand and negatively impact a business’s bottom line. Customers have reported that they are more frustrated by chatbots that cannot answer their questions than they are by humans in the same situation. When customers perceive an experience as inferior, 73% report that they will not use the chatbot again.
Even well-designed chatbots max out at about 85% efficiency. When a customer is not getting the answers he or she needs with automated responses, he or she may perceive a company as cold or indifferent. This perception can damage a brand, customer trust, and loyalty.
Businesses that deploy a chatbot without total openness run an even higher risk of damaging a customer’s trust. Studies show that 75% of consumers want to know when they are communicating with a chatbot, and 48% of consumers considered it “creepy” when chatbots pretend to be human.
Customers can tell the difference between a human and a chatbot. They expect brands to be honest with them. Furthermore, when the interaction involves sensitive financial or health information, businesses must build additional checks for transparency and security.
How can a business mitigate risks?
A business can take steps to reduce the likelihood of customer dissatisfaction with a chatbot. First, chatbot content can be enhanced by limiting text and responding to customer requests with an informative video. Some video platforms will even embed links. This option allows a customer to click on the video and redirect to the page shown as they follow along with the instructions.
Using video instead of text can reduce some of the design and efficiency risks posed by chatbots. It further reduces the risk of seeming cold or indifferent, as it creates greater interaction and adds a personal touch.
Another essential step in reducing the risks posed by chatbots is by providing customers with a smooth and seamless path to live, agent interaction. Just as with IVRs, there are times when customers only want to talk with a person, or they are not getting what they need from an automated system. When implementing a chatbot platform, it is imperative that businesses have a plan for customer escalation to cobrowse and/or voice and video chat. This escalation not only reduces the risks associated with design and efficiency struggles, but it will also help build trust and provide agents an opportunity to improve the customer experience directly.
Chatbots provide a faster, less invasive, real-time interaction. Chatbots are easy to use, and many customers have expressed a preference for that type of engagement. In addition to growing revenue, when designed and implemented correctly, chatbots have the potential to save money for companies. Chatbots are the future of customer experience and have the power to improve business processes and customer service.