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Automation

How Customer Service Chatbots Are Transforming Customer Experience

Customer support is a challenging service. It's about connecting with customers quickly and directly to help them solve their problems. In an increasingly digital world, customer service can be overwhelming for agents as they try to keep up with multiple customer questions at once.

Your customers need immediate and easy access to your help. They want answers right away. But if your agents are busy answering basic questions, then they can't get to more complex problems that matter. This is where chatbots come in.

Customer support chatbots are transforming the face of customer experience and engagement with an impact more far-reaching than you might realize. Virtual assistants bots employ artificial intelligence (AI) to engage customers in real-time dialogues, increasing brand credibility and engagement. They operate around the clock to assist online visitors even when you or your team members are unavailable.

In this blog:

What is a customer service chatbot?

A customer service bot is a computer program that employs AI technology, automation, machine learning and natural language understanding (NLU) processes to help businesses expand agent's reach and are used to answer common customer questions and requests.

They support customers in swiftly resolving simple challenges and concerns. This frees your customer support agents  to deal with more involved, direct experiences and allows them to concentrate on resolving challenging issues while fostering connections with customers.

Support chatbots can be embedded in a company's website, mobile applications, or social media profiles to offer immediate and practical solutions to customers' concerns. They handle easy, routine activities that don't demand an agent's soft skills and expertise. For example, a customer support virtual assistant bot can respond to requests for password reset or general inquiries on estimated delivery times.

Is a customer service chatbot right for my business?

A customer service chatbot can be an integral part of your business. It's a great way to provide outstanding customer service and build trust with your customers, but it's also critical to determine if it's right for your company.

Here are some signs to look out for if you're considering adopting a customer service chatbot for your current business environment.

  • Your customer support department dedicates significant time to answering frequently asked questions (FAQs). If your support staff regularly handles a vast volume of commonly asked questions, then a chatbot is an excellent option to address such queries efficiently. This helps shorten wait times and improve customer service responsiveness, leaving live chat agents the time to tackle complex queries.
  • Customers are abandoning carts or are dropping from conversations. Keep track of relevant consumer-related key performance indicators (KPIs). A higher rate in these metrics can be due to various factors, including excessively long waiting periods or a confusing user experience throughout your website's checkout process. A customer support bot can immediately handle some of these demands, such as answering shipping and delivery inquiries, information about products in the cart, and payment problems.
  • Your call center staff is swamped. The fact that your support representatives are bombarded with consumer inquiries clearly indicates something is amiss. Take note of the nature of the calls. If many are easy requests, an automated bot is an excellent option to ease the burden of your support team.
Over 67% of consumers globally interacted with a chatbot for customer support in the past year. Source: Invesp

Benefits of chatbots in customer service

A rising number of businesses are using AI chatbots throughout their customer service to enhance response time and cut operating expenses. Here are some key benefits of customer service bots:

Instant resolutions

Long waiting periods are the bane of every business, and customers today expect a faster response to their challenges. It’s reasonable to say that keeping customers waiting is undoubtedly one of the most significant consumer complaints and a key driver of customer churn. Chatbots are a fantastic way for businesses to be available to consumers and reduce the lag of customer service responsiveness. They can handle most customer inquiries and enhance employee productivity, eliminating the need for customers to contact you in person.

24/7 customer support

Traditional customer service channels such as in-person, phone calls, or emails can’t meet the customer's immediate demands. Customers don’t want to be bound by time constraints to have their issues solved, and questions answered, and working around-the-clock shifts is impractical for your staff. A helpdesk chatbot can access extensive resources and deliver timely replies anytime, even when your support staff is offline. Engaging consumers at their chosen time improves their satisfaction and loyalty to your business.

Personalized experiences

Businesses can make consumers feel more appreciated and understood by tailoring the user experience. Conversational AI chatbots can provide a personal touch by engaging clients in one-on-one interactions, keeping a natural-sounding tone, and being skilled at interactive communication. They can understand the context and customize experiences with first-party data (such as chat history, past purchases, and user information from the CRM database) to offer hyper-personalized suggestions.

Consistent user experience

A customer care chatbot can manage many customers simultaneously. You can program your bot to deliver a consistent, polite, and helpful customer experience at any time of day or night, irrespective of the subject. It’ll never forget anything or even become annoyed when a user asks the same inquiry for the fifth time. Every visitor that uses it will have the same pleasant, on-brand experience.

Multi-language support

Successful brands sell to consumers across the world. However, offering customer assistance in several languages can be challenging. Virtual assistant bots can help minimize the expense of recruiting multilingual customer care staff by providing support in different languages. This implies that all your global customers are cared for in the language they are most comfortable in.

Agent assist

Chatbots are an excellent option to offer context for agents, provide customer history, and propose simple solutions. They also help keep track of conversations and forward only those that are essential to your support teams.

Reduce support expenses

They can help reduce customer support tasks and automate routine workloads while maintaining service quality. Bots help to reduce costs on expenditures such as hiring additional support agents, offering support training, and managing a robust support infrastructure. Deploying a customer service bot can also help handle conversations simultaneously and meet growing consumer demands while controlling expenses.

Chatbot vs. live chat for customer service

Conversational user interfaces like chatbots and live chat are preferred message channels for a good reason. They can provide tailored, swift, and effective responses and drive consumers through the sales funnel more efficiently.

Chatbots are automated, and live chat systems are human-dependent. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, leaving many businesses unsure of what to use.

The key distinction between a chatbot and live chat is automation. While both communication technologies rely on real-time text interchange, live chat entails conversing with a human agent. At the same time, a bot conversation is an interaction between a customer and programmed chatbot software.

Chatbots pluc live chat benefits
Chatbots and live chat offer a great customer experience when used together.

Businesses can expand more effectively when transitioning from phone support to live chat. However, its scalability is restricted as it still relies on human staff. As a result, organizations that rely primarily on live chat will face obstacles such as recruiting additional human resources, coordinating onboarding and training, enhancing corporate infrastructure, and incurring associated expenses.

Using a chatbot helps you to keep the obstacles mentioned above under check. Bots allow you to scale interactions while monitoring your resources and expenditures. Even if you ultimately need to expand your workforce, using chatbots enables you to do it at a more controllable pace.

Both live chat and chatbot technology provide a personalized customer experience that allows to meet the consumer's demands. For customer service, live chat effectively handles complicated concerns without causing unnecessary confusion. Live chat support representatives can work with other teams and customers to offer the best possible solution. For the time being, humans are still far superior problem solvers to any program.

Chatbot technology can increase your Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score simply because of its 24/7 availability and efficient response to regular but essential queries. Chatbots can gather and analyze data faster and more efficiently than live chat for lead generation and scoring. However, retaining the hot lead with a chatbot indefinitely can be damaging.

Balance is key

For a great customer experience, the victor of the live chat vs. chatbot debate is irrelevant. It's all about determining the best time and place for each solution.

Combining the two is the perfect customer service approach for your organization.

Where one platform fails, the other compensates, and your business should emphasize the investment in this set. Chatbots are a great way to promote self-service help options and achieve key customer service goals such as reduced wait times, improved turnaround times, and better CSAT scores.

Furthermore, the volume of incoming queries is split between a bot and your support agents. Consumer requests are only sent to agents when the chatbot cannot answer their question or when the customer actively requests it.

In a live chat, a customer care rep can answer numerous users simultaneously, enhancing employee performance and service efficiency. This improves customer advocacy and loyalty while humanizing customer experience in challenging situations.

Agents can concentrate on offering high-quality customer support rather than dealing with many recurring queries. Simultaneously, chatbots can support you in compiling data about your consumers and their concerns. This data can help you improve your products and services.

Customer service chatbot use cases

Customer support chatbots are being used in various industries to improve customer experience. Here are some use cases of how support chatbots are being used:

Healthcare

A customer service chatbot in healthcare provides accurate and timely information on health insurance, disease symptoms, medical treatments, medical procedure costs, etc. Healthcare institutions can also train conversational AI chatbots to provide medical advice to patients.

Healthcare chatbots can also support users in locating a doctor to help with their condition, emailing the doctor with information, and scheduling an appointment. Using a bot to help book and change appointments reduces the need for costly human contacts. The bot is useful for correctly and effectively setting and managing meetings, allowing customers to schedule and amend appointments in advance.

The bot can also send reminders and confirmations, track projected arrival and wait times, and allow customers to rate their experience. This reduces last-minute cancellations while providing around-the-clock service availability without incurring employee expenditures.

Customer service bot used for booking appointments.
Assisiting with scheduling an appointment.

Retail and e-commerce

Chatbots in retail and e-commerce simplify customers' purchase experience and lower the likelihood of cart abandonment. Tracking the progress of an order or product delivery is a typical customer service task for many e-commerce businesses.

A customer support bot can relieve the burden on contact center operators by giving preemptive warnings of delays or schedule modifications, verifying delivery, and automating billing. This bot can also help track returns and handle refunds on returned items.

Bot providing order tracking information.
Helping to keep track of the order status.

Banking and financial sector

Chatbots in the banking industries address common but critical queries concerning banks' operations, types of loans offered, online services, bonus point possibilities, etc. Chatbots can answer simple questions from members and reduce employee burden.

By providing this information, banking and finance chatbots can help users make more informed financial decisions. For example, a virtual assistant bot could provide information about different loan options available from a bank and allow the user to compare interest rates, repayment terms, and other factors.

In addition to helping users make informed decisions about their finances, chatbots can also help promote a company's products and services. For example, a chatbot could provide information about special offers or discounts available to users. By providing this type of information, virtual bots can help increase customer loyalty and brand awareness.

Bot providing information about product benefits.
Providing information about special offers and rewards.

Travel and tourism

The use of chatbots in the travel industry is growing rapidly as companies seek to improve the customer experience and reduce the time and cost associated with traditional customer service methods. Here are some ways in which travel businesses use customer service bots.

  • Booking flights: Chatbots can help customers find and book flights quickly and easily. They can also provide flight times, prices, and seat availability updates.
  • Tracking prices: Chatbots can track expenses across multiple airlines and travel websites to find the cheapest option for the customer. They can also set up price alerts so that the customer is notified of a drop in price for their desired flight or hotel room.
  • Hotel services: Chatbots can help customers find hotels in their desired destinations by searching through multiple booking websites. They can also provide information on hotel amenities, location, and price.
  • Making bookings: Once customers have found their desired flight or hotel room, chatbots can help them make the booking quickly and easily. They can also provide updates on the status of their booking and answer any questions they may have about their reservation.
Chatbot helping with hotel information.
Providing hotel self-service options.

How to build a good chatbot experience for customer service

Planning, developing, and deploying a customer service bot to improve your company's digital customer experience is a relatively simple process. Here is how you can get started, step by step.

Create a knowledge base

A knowledge base (KB) gives your chatbot the information it needs to answer user inquiries correctly. Your chatbot knowledge base enables you to organize articles and content around FAQ topics that deliver company-specific facts. It handles the various ways users request the same information.

Chatbots can identify the intent of a consumer query with the use of triggers or by understanding the context of the question. They are also excellent for streamlining your customer journey, but only if they are built on a reliable foundation: your optimized knowledge base.

When a customer initiates a dialogue, a chatbot can offer relevant knowledge base articles to resolve the concern. This is simply another way to provide self-service, and if the chatbot cannot solve the issue, the conversation is immediately transferred to a live chat agent.

With AI technologies, your chatbots will continually learn and improve their responses by automatically guiding the user to the most helpful content. This enables companies to provide immediate assistance while lowering ticket queues.

The success or failure of resolving customer inquiries effectively depends on how the KB is structured and the resources available to the chatbot. Integrating chatbots with a reliable knowledge base for customer support is critical for enhancing your entire customer experience.

Contact our team
With Velaro, you can built a  knowledge base software for your chatbot and get a head start in establishing your customer self-service hub. Click here to connect with our chatbot specialists.

Choose a chatbot type

Various types of businesses have different needs and business problems to solve for. In order to properly engage with consumers, it’s critical to determine the type of chatbot best suited for your goal. There are three basic chatbot technologies: rule-based, AI-enabled, or hybrid.

Rule-based chatbots

This type of chatbors rely on predetermined paths, scripts, and dialogues during customer interactions. During the conversion, the user must choose from a list of specific options presented by the chatbot, which will influence the next step of the dialogue. Rule-based chatbots frequently answer FAQs, provide first-level customer support, pre-qualifying leads, and easily collect data via forms.

  • Example: The scripts and steps are alreadyset when ordering pizza online via a chatbot. The chatbot will ask questionsthe same way an agent would while taking your order by phone, including thepizza size, the dough type, toppings, and the amount of cheese. Then, it willask for the address and payment choice. The stages are easy, and the consumermerely needs to click through to finish their order.
  • Benefit: You have complete control over thedialogue and are simplest to develop and train. You can program their behaviorfrom the beginning to the end to provide a consistent brand experience.
  • Disadvantage: These chatbots don’t register consumer requeststhat don’t follow the script. They also lack learning capabilities. Thus, anynew advancements must be manually added to the chatbot

AI chatbots

Also known as conversational bots, use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze the intent of the consumer query. These bots are advanced enough to understand the user's request and respond accordingly.

  • Example: E-commerce AI virtual agents can determine that a consumer wants to return an item and claim a refund by understanding the context of their query. Virtual bot agents can choose the optimal next step depending on various parameters such as contextual factors, customer information, sentiment, or business policies. It can also change its response based on real-time sentiment analysis.
  • Benefit: AI chatbots constantly develop and learn from each encounter with a user. They can recognize errors and grammatical mistakes and appear more natural.
  • Disadvantage: Training takes time, and you have less authority over chat discussions.

Hybrid chatbots

The third chatbot tech is a hybrid of rule-based and AI bots. A hybrid chatbot can grasp query intent and context and handles rule-based activities. You can use a hybrid method to have the best of both worlds, but it’ll be more challenging to develop.

  • Example: Healthcare chatbots that assist with medical diagnostics combine the characteristics of both rule-based and AI chatbots. Users can ask the chat assistant questions about their health, and the bot can narrow down potential ailments by inquiring about symptoms in a rule-based approach. Users can navigate back and forth, select alternatives, and provide additional details until the chatbot narrows down their condition and suggests resolutions.

Tip: If your business needs are basic, rule-based chatbots are an excellent option, as they follow predefined criteria and are easy to use. Businesses that deal with complex scenarios should adopt AI-enabled chatbots as they can comprehend the context and respond appropriately.

Map out logical sequences

Once you have a good idea about the various discussion points and business goals, you can draw out the pathways a customer might follow. Begin by picturing this as a sequence of information or context-gathering questions, with customer responses resulting in various outcomes.

A decision tree is a valuable tool for diagramming your chatbot dialogue. A decision tree aids in the flow of a discussion and mapping a logical sequence for your buyer's journey. You can use software or a hand-drawn diagram to create a decision tree.

In addition to design or diagramming tools, spreadsheets can also gather and classify stages in your customer journey. By anticipating different interactions and results, this exercise seeks to help you better understand and align with the demands of your audience. Your chatbot assists and advances the discussion towards a transactional moment with each user's decision.

Choose the best chatbot platform

Now that you've outlined your logical sequences, it's time to select software to develop and monitor your customer support chatbot. There are several chatbot solutions available. Some solutions require prior coding knowledge while others don't, and options vary widely regarding customization and expense.

Here are some questions to remember during the selection process to help you pick the most suitable platform for your company:

  • Is the application suitable for a customer service use case or your industry? Are there any case studies or references in this field? Look for software that has a record of success for your specific use case and in your business sector.
  • How simple or challenging is it to assemble and manage a chatbot? Are coding skills necessary to operate a high-quality bot? Can you use advanced technologies like AI or machine learning in your bot? Chatbot software should be easy and agile enough to scale and evolve with your business.
  • Is it feasible to integrate the chatbot software with other platforms, such as live chat software, database, knowledge base, and virtual agent support? If you don't currently have multiple tools for handling customer support, consider a solution that will grow as your business grows. Your chatbot is only one part of the customer service equation and needs other resources to interact with customers appropriately.
  • Is it easy to escalate tickets to live chat agents? You risk losing customers if your chatbot cannot transfer chats, produce tickets, or quickly redirect to an agent.
  • Does the chatbot platform offer a support team? Choose a platform that has a customer service team working behind the scenes to assist when needed.

Tip: If possible, seek free trials of chatbot platforms to determine the solution best for your use case and product development methodology. Try Velaro chatbots for free and see what our chatbots can do for you.

Build and launch your bot

Your first customer care chatbot will lay the groundwork for your company's future progress and success. The goal is to start small and build on your audience's thoughts and feedback as you go. Begin by utilizing templates or by creating your own flows from scratch. As you construct and iterate on the virtual assistant bots, you'll reach a point when everything comes together to provide the ideal user experience for your customer support objectives.

Continuously monitor performance and innovate

You should monitor and test the chatbot's performance even after launch. As human behavior and language continually develop, you should alter your chatbot's replies to reflect those trends. Use A/B testing to see which components your target audience responds to best. You can test aspects such as language, pictures, fonts, welcome messages, interface style, tone of voice, etc.

Collect user feedback to discover if your chatbot is helpful. End each interaction with a quick survey or net promoter score (NPS) and make the necessary improvements.

Best practices for using customer support chatbots

Let’s look at some best practices for using customer support chatbots.

  • Set expectations for customers: Chatbots for customer support should be explicit about what they can and cannot do. Make it apparent to customers when they are speaking with a chatbot and when they are speaking with a real person. Most consumers are content to resolve their issues without delay or avoid unnecessary procedures, even if it involves interacting with a chatbot.
  • Give your chatbot a personality: Your chatbot's tone and voice can make consumers feel assured and cared for or make them feel abandoned to an emotionless machine. Match your chatbot’s voice to your brand guidelines so that your customers feel confident that they are still dealing with the same company they know and trust.
  • Use rich elements instead of text: Humans perceive pictures faster than words, so substitute text with rich visuals wherever possible. Use buttons, carousel pickers, and list options to make your customers' lives easier.
  • Make provisions for human handover: When employing a customer support chatbot, a clear and straightforward approach to human escalation is essential. This includes a seamless transition from chatbot to live chat. Make sure the transition is smooth, especially if the consumer is in trouble.
  • Establish an out-of-office plan: Customer support chatbots enable you to serve consumers around the clock, but if your customer support team is unavailable for a handoff, make sure you have a backup plan. At the very least, convey precisely when they can contact a representative the next time, have the capacity to send a message, submit a ticket, or request a call or contact back with a form.

Supercharge your customer support

AI chatbot technology is rapidly becoming an essential component of customer engagement strategies and radically influencing how businesses provide customer support. Customer service chatbots are an extension of your support team and serve as customer service representatives for your business. They are redefining how customers and businesses engage with one another.

There are several benefits to employing chatbots for customer service. Consumers receive the support they require, while customer care representatives have more time to engage and humanize the experience with customers that need more complex assistance.

When done correctly, a customer service chatbot helps companies offer personal and efficient assistance without sacrificing the quality of the customer support experience.

Let chatbots handle the little things so you can focus on the big stuff.
Click here to connect with our chatbot specialists.

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