Chatbots, A.I. and Self-Service: How to Integrate and Offer Support Day or Night

By Nicholas McAuliff - 3 min read

Ever heard of chatbots?

If the answer to the above is “no,” you are behind the times where customer service is concerned.

Facebook is a current chatbot pioneer. It’s clearly working for them.

Why?

Older IVR programs show us a contrast to modern chatbots. We see how ineffective and inaccurate IVR programs can actually damage the larger customer experience. However, chatbots are more advanced and developed, which means less room for error and a greater chance of solving the customer’s problem. So, if the intent is to make things integrated and easier for the customer, you need the adequate technology. Using an outdated IVR that doesn’t accurately respond to customer requests defeats the purpose. You need to combine three things: integration, self-service and 24/7 support.

That’s the key

With effective chatbots, you combine integration, self-service and 24/7 support and thus enhance the odds of a positive customer experience. We have already discussed how self-service options and 24/7 support augment your CRM by themselves. When these features are offered by a chatbot, you take things one step further.

Here’s why

Let’s say a customer simply needs to change their appointment. This should be a very straightforward, easy and positive experience for the customer. Often, we see that it is not. Between multiple departments, not enough channels of support or lack of integration of system tools, this scenario can easily turn into a mess for the customer.

Scenarios like this compound the situation because it’s such a simple problem that the customer needs to resolve. That means they have an expectation from the start. Now, if it takes them four phone calls and multiple hours to resolve, that’s bad scenario. This same scenario can be used to demonstrate why chatbots are efficient.

Booking, scheduling and rescheduling appointments, for example, no longer requires a live CSR. There is no reason to limit your customers. If a customer needs to make a change at 3 a.m., they should be able to do so in a matter of minutes. If you use effective, accurate chatbots, this can be accomplished. If you don’t use chatbots, the customer does still have a couple of options:

  1. Wait until the next day when they can reach your customer service department (probably leading to frustration).
  2. Use your self-service options. Hopefully they don’t have any questions or run into any problem doing so, or else they will have to wait until the following day to reach you.

If your business offers services that require appointments and bookings, you are in an ideal position to use chatbots. If chatbots are good enough to rely on for this scenario, you take away the need for further resources (agents, tools, time). This also greatly reduces the odds of a poor customer experience. Remember, the key word here when dealing with chatbots is effective, because if you continue to use yesterday’s voice-recognition software, it defeats the whole purpose.

We have discussed Facebook in previous posts. One of the first to use chatbots to this extent, they continue to lead the charge. Facebook’s F8 Conference includes the introduction of group chatbots for Messenger.

This is a perfect example. Utilizing Messenger, users now have the option to use chatbots to integrate and enhance their experience. They are already using a convenient online portal, which is also mobile. Now, they also have chatbots to add to that well-integrated and smooth experience.

Do you see how this is so powerful for customer service?

Topics of these group bots vary, ranging from news to sports. Still, the point is that customers now have an integrated interface which includes chatbot service.

Where a live agent used to be required for everything, now a chatbot can effectively replace that agent for certain tasks. That number of tasks is growing exponentially as the efficiency and A.I. of chatbots increases. Look to large, successful companies who are currently utilizing chatbots and expanding their use. There is a reason they are doing so. It is clear that modern chatbots augment the customer experience. Whether you are a small business owner or just setting the foundation for your startup, chatbots offer an obvious advantage.

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