COVID-19 has upended almost all businesses, and one of the worst-hit sectors is customer service.
On the one hand, anxious and emotionally-charged customers are calling companies night-and-day to make travel cancellations, ask for refunds, inquire about bill payment extensions, and so on. Naturally, the volume and intensity of calls have sky-rocketed, leaving customer support teams to fend for themselves. Additionally, the lack of proper infrastructure is making things worse for the team and the company at large. The logical solution?
It would be fair to assume that the pandemic is forcing companies to move towards online support such as the use of AI chatbots, live chat, etc. – a great move, in my opinion. In this blog, we will look at the top-5 ways to enhance customer service for support agents working from home by using chatbots. Let’s jump right in.
“Era of Chatbots”: 3 Ways to Boost CX for Support Agents Working From Home
AI-powered chatbots are no longer an optional choice, (48%) customers actively wish to “connect with a company via live chat than any other means of contact,” according to HubSpot. Additionally, further research by Mindbowser claims that “‘customer service’ is going to be the major beneficiary of chatbots.” Clearly, the era of chatbots is upon us, and businesses need to start leveraging this futuristic technology and extract maximum benefits such as:
1. How Customer Service Chatbots are Redefining CX
Practically speaking, chatbots can take off some of the workload for an already-overwhelmed customer support team, pandemic or not. Here’s how:
- No breaks = seamless service: Chatbots don’t take breaks in between work, unlike human agents. There are no coffee breaks, no vacation leaves, no sick leaves, you get the drift, right?
- 24×7 availability: They are available for customer assistance – night or day – all seven days a week. In fact, most customers like to engage with brands on weekends or during wee hours of the night after the day’s hustle-and-bustle is over.
- Free up resources: They free up the workload for your human agents, thereby allowing the latter to focus on solving more complex problems that require human intelligence and effort. This could be tending to angry/unsatisfied customers on a one-to-one basis.
- Accurate and instant support: Chatbots can route the customer’s queries to the next available agent in case they are unable to provide a solution.
Handy tip: Care must be taken to ensure that the bots are well-versed with your brand’s offerings. To that end, it helps to conceptualize bots with a bit of personality and character using conversational and simple language. For instance, take a look at Progressive’s chatbot called Flo, which assists customers in filing claims, viewing payment dates, and getting quotes for their auto insurance:
Notice that even though the chatbot deals with something as serious and formal as Insurance, it has got a fun (and endearing) side to it, making the conversation warm and a pleasant one from the customer’s perspective.
Handy tip: During times of maintenance or any other unforced down-time, the chatbot communication to the customer must be clear and transparent to avoid users from getting annoyed and frustrated.
2. Benefits of Chatbots in Customer Service
Undoubtedly, one of the primary benefits of chatbots is instantaneity. There are no two ways about it. In addition to this, chatbots lend themselves to a host of other business and CX advantages such as:
- Convenience and availability: As mentioned earlier, chatbots offer 24x7x365 assistance to users – an advantage that takes center stage, especially during the time of a pandemic. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why the World Health Organization launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp to combat the “infodemic” that was spreading (COVID-19 misinformation):
Notice how the bot offers multilingual support to assist users on a global scale.
Based on the information the user provides, the chatbot guides the reader with appropriate and timely responses:
- Seamless support at scale: Chatbots provide instant solutions and effective support at scale. Plus, they can handle thousands of customer queries at once – that too, without any errors.
- Knowledgebase offering consistent and uniform support: Chatbots can offer detailed and expert assistance for basic FAQ-type, routine questions. Take KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ multilingual chatbot, for example, which uses Facebook Messenger where users can opt-in to access booking details, check-in notification, flight status, boarding pass, etc. In terms of its success, the bot is known to respond to over 15,000 social conversations in a week!
- Patient and unbiased communication: Let’s call a spade a spade. Often times, when dealing with a difficult customer, agents can lose their cool and patience – making matters worse. This is where the use of chatbots trumps over the use of customer service agents as the latter is incapable of experiencing human bias and judgment. That’s not all. According to data, after integrating the chatbot, the brand’s volume of Facebook messages jumped by 40 percent – reaching 1.7 million messages sent across by over 500,000 people!
- Personalized support and insight-led interaction: Another fantastic benefit of using a chatbot is that it helps extend customized support to users. Let’s take a look at Lego’s bot – Ralph – which asks the reader a couple of basic questions (think: price range, child’s age, their interests, etc.) so that it can offer accurate and personalized information:
The result? According to reports, Lego witnessed a 6x increase in return on ad spend. Plus, it enjoyed a 31% decrease in the cost per conversion. Need we say more?
Key takeaway: All in all, well thought out chatbots help extend an overall positive, friendly, and seamless experience for the customers from start to finish. The golden rule being that businesses should keep the end-user in mind when drafting the content and flow of the bot.
3. Chatbots will Revolutionize the Future of Customer Service
Contrary to popular opinion, chatbot conversations are no longer dull, drab, and robot-like. Multi-million dollar brands such as Sephora make excellent use of chatbots to entertain, educate, and engage users:
In terms of the services provide, the options are many:
- Sephora Reservation Assistant: Customers can book appointments for a makeover at Sephora stores.
- Sephora: Virtual Artist: This shade matching bot recommends the correct product to users and allows them to view a list of matching products based on the user’s inputs.
- Kik bot: This trendy bot offers a plethora of useful information such as makeup tips, how-to videos, and customer reviews. That’s not all. It also asks questions to gather information and make relevant suggestions. This millennial-focused bot makes use of emojis and redirects users to the mobile site or Sephora app to complete the purchase. By speaking the audience’s language in their style, the bot connects better with the target audience.
The point we are trying to drive home is simple: Chatbots are being used to solve real problems of users in a thoughtful and useful manner. The conversations are no longer static but rather more interactive and dynamic in nature. So much so, that some bots ‘continuously learn’ from the data they gather and from every customer interaction to deliver an enhanced customer experience.
Chatbots, when used in collaboration with human agents, can deliver an extraordinary customer experience – one that’s defined by speedy answers, friendly (and useful) responses, and customized service.
Here’s the final takeaway: When it comes to chatbots, the trick, of course, lies in asking the right questions and delivering the right answers at the right time. Agree?
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