By 2022, some 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies like chatBOTs. CIOs identified chatBOTs as the main AI-based applications used in their enterprises in Gartner’s 2019 Gartner CIO Survey. The research advisory firm reported that it has seen a 160% increase in client’s interest in chatBOTs since 2018, with customer service, knowledge management, and user support leading use cases.
A trend that was already building has been pushed into hyper-growth in 2020 due to the pandemic, as organizations deploy chatBOTs to meet the demands and volume of an increasingly digital world.
More than chitchat: The power of intelligent chatBOTs to engage, assist, and satisfy
At its core, a chatBOT is a computer program that simulates and processes a human conversation using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing technology.
But, just as there is a difference between making small talk and engaging in more in-depth conversation, there are different types of chatBOTs that facilitate different conversational experiences. These AI-powered chatBOTs all work together to engage the customer, provide assistance and solve problems, and guide them throughout their customer journey — much in the same way a casual conversation can lead to “I know a guy who does that,” and “let me connect you with my friend who can help more.”
Bots can be used to initiate a simple conversation at the right point in a customer’s journey — starting with “Welcome to our e-Store” or “can I answer any questions?”. We call them Proactive NudgeBOTs because they do just that. They proactively ‘nudge’ a customer to engage. When a website visitor appears to have ’paused’, like the perfect party host, the bot nudges them along by offering assistance and encouraging them to interact. The job of the NudgeBOT is to interpret the visitor’s behavior and deliver the right messages at the right time using customer journey analytics.
Once someone engages in a conversation, another type of bot takes over. We call it the CustomerAssistBOT. The most commonly deployed, CustomerAssistBOTs can be trained on datasets to guide someone through a very simple or more complex customer journey. A simple bot can offer website visitors quick answers to frequently asked questions. Other bots can set up appointments. Or for more complex use cases, a bot can co-browse with a customer to ensure they get to the right page on the website and interface with other systems using real-time APIs to help customers with all the information they need to resolve a support issue or to make a purchase. And, most importantly for providing a positive customer experience, an intelligent bot can seamlessly transfer the customer to a service or sales agent to continue the conversation via live text, voice, or video chat when interaction with a human is required.
Here’s where the AgentAssistBOT jumps in making sure that the customer service or sales agent has the information needed to help. AgentAssistBOTs serve as personal assistants to your agents and automate workflows. The ‘auto-respond’ mode allows agents to handle more simultaneous chats when queues get longer. With these powerful bots, agents will experience increased productivity, create better customer experiences, and achieve shorter handle times.
This team of AI-powered, intelligent chatBOTs uses advanced journey analytics, natural language processing, and deep learning to get smarter and smarter. This continuous learning and teamwork deliver convenient assistance, guided support throughout a customer journey, and an exceptional customer experience.
The value of AI-enabled chatBOTs for customer service, sales, and marketing
Businesses from retail, to banks, to healthcare organizations are using chatBOTs to enhance and streamline customer service and to qualify leads and support customers throughout the online buying journey.
Customer service and the chatBOT team
Happier customers, better customer ratings: Customer service engagements — such as booking appointments or directing consumers to online information — can oftentimes be entirely handled by a bot. “The Future of Customer Service is AI-Human Collaboration,” the headline of a recent article in MIT Sloan Management Review, sums up the benefits of “partnering” with a chatBOT to enhance customer service. When chatBOTs answer frequently asked questions and solve simple issues, they enable an entire customer service interaction to be addressed by self-service. Customers don’t need to waste time waiting on the phone. And, by weeding out easy answers that are often the most common, call-waiting times are reduced by freeing up customer service agents to handle more complex questions that do require live assistance.
More efficient use of human talent, happier agents: When human assistance is required, the initial engagement with a chatBOT expedites resolutions by gathering relevant information upfront and quickly routing the customer to the right person to resolve the problem. Problems get solved faster, more often during the first call, and live agents are able to spend more time on more complex tasks or with more valuable customers.
Working in a contact center isn’t an easy job — neither is managing one. But, chatBOTs help to make the agent’s job easier by giving them more relevant information with which to help solve the customer’s problem. With chatbots, agent training time is reduced and more consistent responses ensure compliance with corporate policies. This brings benefits to the contact center supervisor who has a more engaged workforce and isn’t wrestling as often with high turnover common in such roles.
Sales and marketing and the chatBOT team
Increased revenue, improved customer acquisition, and retention: ChatBOTs s can be a powerful tool to help move customers towards purchases and make sure qualified leads move quickly through the sales funnel. By one estimate, 88% of consumers research their purchases online before buying either online or in the store. ChatBOTs can help point buyers to the right information 24/7 — on anything from products to specific order details or exchanges and allowing them to engage with the company whenever they want. The bots can help push specific marketing campaigns to targeted audiences to boost conversion rates or remind customers of items in abandoned shopping carts. Intelligent bots can move more qualified buyers to a live agent immediately or allow them to set up an appointment to talk with a live sales agent during business hours, grabbing buyers in the moment of consideration and before they move to a competitor’s site. Based on our customers’ experience, a supported buying journey can increase the average order value by as much as 35%. ChatBOTs can also integrate with the company’s CRM system and pull data that helps distinguish a more qualified lead. Convenience and great service increase sales and loyalty to the brand, as well as the likelihood that the customer will refer others to that product, business, or service.
Intelligent chatBOT use cases in retail, automotive, financial services, and healthcare
Some common use cases for chatBOTs in different industries include:
Retail. Shopping cart abandonment rates for the retail industry are high. Forrester says 88% of people have abandoned an online shopping cart without completing a transaction. Retailers can employ chatBOTs to remind and gently encourage buyers to complete purchases by removing common barriers such as confusion over shipping costs and return policies.
Automotive. Only 15% of the 100 leading automotive companies surveyed by Capgemini reported that they employed chatBOTs. But, of those that did, the majority saw a reduction in customer service calls and costs. A chatBOT can be used, for instance, to help customers book service appointments online — walking customers through common questions needed to book specific services to ensure parts and skill availability, making sure they go to the closest and best location for the service and finding and scheduling the most convenient time for the service appointment.
Financial services. Interestingly, banks are more likely to have deployed chatBOTs than companies in the retail or automotive industries, according to the Capgemini survey. A chatBOT can, for instance, guide a customer as they educate themselves on how to get a COVID-19 PPP loan, deploying co-browsing functionality to find pointed answers and arming customers so they can complete the process themselves. Agile bots can be quickly deployed to address new, information updates in days.
Healthcare. ChatBOTs that leverage natural language and knowledge databases can support and enhance online connections between patients and their healthcare providers. These AI-driven chatBOTs can provide answers to common questions 24/7, provide initial patient triage, and seamlessly transfer a patient or member to a live assistance text, voice, or video chat when the need arises.
Getting started with a team of chatBOTs
Deploying chatBOTs to support customer service or sales engagements, nudge visitors into action or improve agent productivity is only limited by your customer journeys.
Often, the first step is to identify the most urgent customer experience needs. In deciding to deploy this AI technology, one Vee24 customer started with a simple question — what are the experiences that are creating friction for customers and/or for employees, and what can we do to remedy that? It zeroed in on its contact center. The team reasoned that 10-12% of questions coming into that call center could be handled effectively with information on the customer’s website — if only the customers could find it. Once deployed, the FAQ bot proved even more valuable than originally anticipated and had an immediate impact reducing calls into customer service and managing peak volume.
The high priority needs are most often addressed with helpful, continuously learning CustomerAssistBOT. But, as the power of automating customer journeys is realized, nudging people to engage throughout the site and improving agent productivity with NudgeBOTs and AgentAssistBOTs respectively enables organizations to accomplish more business objectives. And, adding live engagement technologies such as text, voice, and video chat and real-time collaboration tools such as cobrowsing, co-form fill and secure file sharing takes the online customer experience to the next level.