Customer service chatbot – here to save you millions
Implementing a customer service chatbot is a bit of a touchy subject. There are the customer satisfaction questions – won’t a chatbot degrade our customer service and leave them unhappy? What happens if the chatbot fails? Won’t I be putting people out of a job? Aren’t there agencies that do after-hours support? I’m here to tell you – no problem. Just awesome.
It’s a tricky one to dance around. The way technology is evolving, chatbots are actually going to improve the system for both the customer and the business. I’m going to run through three ways a chatbot customer service system can make your customers happy and save you millions in customer support salaries, today.
The problem with humans
Note: being a human myself, this isn’t a criticism so much as an observation about how I’ve seen humans act in their workplace.
Firstly, there’s the capacity thing. Wait times are a serious drain on anybody’s life and hold music is the soundtrack to satan’s seventh ring of hell. Just ask anyone on Centre Link. Secondly, no human can work 24/7. That’s a ridiculous presumption.
So what does the landscape look like at the moment for after-hours requests? A call centre in India, an agency that has minimal business knowledge who isn’t invested in the brand, a sleepy, lone customer service rep working to the wee hours of the morning. Inconsistency between support reps. These are all problems our clients have faced with their fallback solution for when they close up shop for the night or have outsourced their support.
The ideal customer support member is essentially a brand ambassador. They love the company, they know it inside out and are there to excite the customer on the grand vision. Support staff aren’t perfect though. They have break-ups, they get sick, they forget things.
We are human, after all.
Self-serve before escalation, 24/7
The first step to improving customer satisfaction and removing human error from the situation is self-serve. Self-serve is the holy grail of customer service. If a company has created their support system so well that there’s no need for human contact then this creates business efficiencies and customers are happy that they have all the knowledge that they need.
These systems aren’t always built perfectly though. It can be hard for customers to surface the information they need. You know your knowledgebase inside-out as a business – if someone asked you a question, you’d be able to answer it relatively quickly. So shouldn’t this be a consistent experience across support channels?
A customer service chatbot can quell these problems by acting as a ‘first-line defence’. Here are a few examples:
So, what could one do?
- Verification – a chatbot could perform the verification required when talking to a human. This could be via date of birth and address or use more complex methods like sending an SMS with a code (as they will most likely be on their phone already).
- FAQ for real – It could understand customer queries and answer by digging into the company knowledge base. Think FAQ but delivered through a conversational experience. The natural way.
- Process simple tasks – menial tasks like changing addresses, checking on claims and making a payment are all straight-forward easy requests. These can be automated easily, saving the customer service rep precious minutes on the phone. More on this in the next section.
- Collect preliminary info – so that when a customer service rep does join the conversation they are fully equipped with the request at hand, the customer’s profile and any extra information they might need to process the request.
It’s important to escalate when a user is stuck or angry – but more on that shortly.
Broadcasting important announcements
Email messages from companies are largely ignored. So are inboxes on your company’s platform or portal. SMS has been one of the most engaging ways to make announcements, so why not take them to where your customers are?
Messaging apps are quickly outpacing traditional social platforms and see ridiculous open-rates of 90% and up. Click through rates of 50%. It’s ludicrous! So how can a customer service chatbot make this even better?
Conversational announcements. Picture calling every single customer to tell them about a change in government legislation that has a handful of complexities that will affect their monthly subscription cost. What a nightmare! Not only is there volume, but there’s also emotion.
Alternatively, use a customer service chatbot to broadcast important announcements and make them interactive? Allow your customers to find out more simply by having a conversation. This has the added benefit of customer engagement not just a P.S.A. Not to mention your open rates will sky-rocket!
Automating call centres
Automated support systems have been the dread of customers for years. But emerging technology is evolving at a rapid pace and allowing richer, more complex interactions between human and machine.
I’ve yelled at the Telstra automated system more times than I can count. I just repeatedly yell “PUT ME THROUGH TO A REAL HUMAN!!!” and eventually it hits the fallback and puts me through. That’s because it’s not actually helpful though. It’s never made my life easier and it’s never truly understood me.
With developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) it’s possible to understand user intent through spoken voice and identify important entities. Let me illustrate below;
This is a healthcare provider chatbot we’re working on at the moment. You can tell it what your problem is and it will recommend a specialist based on the symptoms you’ve provided. It does this by recognising symptoms, ailments, body parts and severity in order to quickly tell you whether you should book an appointment at the chiro or should go to the hospital.
This software is so good that you can speak to it like a teeny bopper who’s just discovered MSN for the first time and it still understands. Under the hood, it uses machine learning to recognise patterns, word vectors and translate that into meaningful actions.
So why is NLP important? Traditional automated systems just look out for keywords. When you tell your Internet Provider “I need to update my direct debit” it just looks out for the word “direct debit” and routes you to the right person. With NLP, you can understand complex requests and route them to the next request automatically. You can tie this into your business’s back-end and process these requests without any human intervention. This is going to change the game.
Gotcha: human escalation – not totally useless
Sometimes your customer service chatbot can’t understand the request coming through. It is, after all, a program. It’s important that you always keep staff on to handle escalations – that is when the chatbot has failed to satisfy the customer’s needs and needs a human to handle a potentially complex request.
Today’s technology also allows you to analyse sentiment in conversation. Basically, whether someone is happy or sad, positive or negative. A negative sentiment is also a good time to escalate the request to a human being.
Humans aren’t entirely useless!
How to roll out a customer service chatbot?
The trick with integrating a customer service chatbot is to do it gradually. Do not replace your entire CX team with an automated system overnight. That would be a disaster.
We’d recommend starting with after-hours support of 50% of your customers. This way you can see how it performs against traditional support channels where there is the expectation that customer service will not be at its best.
Once that’s successful, roll it out to 100% of after-hours support and make sure that the system is running smoothly and as expected. You may find you need to tweak and improve your system based on the way your customers talk and respond.
Next, create your ‘front-line defence’. Roll the chatbot out to sit in front of the customer support team and see whether it can handle most requests. Over time, you’ll notice the wait times dropping, happier customers with the efficient handling of requests and your customer support team will shrink with business growth instead of ballooning in size.
Wondering how a customer service chatbot can complement your existing CX team? Get in touch with us and we’ll identify what can be automated easily and efficiently, and start a chatbot test pilot today. Or hit me up on LinkedIn!
Chatbot marketing campaigns – here to murder the dying email campaign
If you don’t know why you need a chatbot yet, you are ludicrous (and probably haven’t seen me hammering it on LinkedIn!) Today I’m going to focus on one use of them: chatbot marketing campaigns and how they outperform EDMs like they are going out of fashion. I’ve spoken how chatbots can boost online sales and why your business needs one. This is a deeper dive into marketing.
Chatbot marketing campaigns to the rescue!
Chatbots are poised to revolutionise marketing in unprecedented ways. In fact, they already are. Our email inbox has become a place of pain, necessity and duty. Nobody looks at their email for a rush of dopamine – they have messenger platforms for that instead. Before I get into why the chatbot revolution is here for marketing, let me explain why email is dead.
Email marketing and EDMs are dead
Traditional channels like email are dying. How many promo emails do you actually open, personally? They are usually a result of getting a free PDF – which you sacrificed your email for in order to receive crappy promotions for all eternity. Basically selling your soul!
Personally, there are very few emails in my ‘promo’ bundle that I actually read. Most of them are newsletters for publications I’m actually interested in. Even then, plenty slip through the cracks.
Hubspot benchmarked the median open-rate for emails and found it to be around 32%. Not bad, you say. I say, terrible! There’s 68% of possible improvement to be had. When it comes to clicks the numbers are even worse – 2% of click-through rates from email. That’s just pitiful!
Based on this, I daresay that most email opens are just to keep a user’s unread emails clean and clear. The thing that sucks about this the most is that companies are firehosing their content out to people who probably aren’t listening. It’s like throwing a bucket of against a brick wall and a few drops seeping through the cracks.
Email marketing is inefficient, annoying to the audience and ripe for innovation. So what’s next?
Chatbot marketing campaigns: the revolution
What do you do when you’ve been proverbially throwing sh*t at the wall to see what sticks to the same lacklustre response?
Try something new. Try chatbot marketing campaigns.
As I mentioned, we spend more time in messaging apps than any other app, period. The culprit for that is dopamine and it’s time you capitalised on your audiences ‘addiction’.
What if I told you that you could have unprecedented open rates of 90% plus? What if I told you your click-through rates could go from 2% to over 50%?
Here’s the thing: you can have this. Today.
Chatbot marketing campaigns require three things: personality, knowledge and platform. All three of these exist through brand voice, email content and messaging.
So why aren’t you jumping on the train before it leaves the station?
Those who implement chatbots will outperform their traditional channels almost immediately – mark my words. Get on the gravy train!
Mayte is an emerging tech agency that helps solve meaningful problems in New ways. If you think your company needs a chatbot or just want to know more, Don’t hesitate to get in touch!