How Do Chatbots Improve Business Interactions?

According to a 2016 Inc.com survey, more than half of all U.S. consumers believe customer service departments should be available 24/7. But, as any Business 101 student will tell you, the cost of keeping a business open at off-peak hours doesn’t translate to increased revenue.

In other words, businesses won’t be going out of their way any time soon to keep their doors open at all hours of the day. As a compromise, however, many online businesses utilize chat to better serve customers’ needs. In the not-so-distant past, remote employees manned chat box customer service, but now more and more businesses are using chatbots to “man” them.

By improving customer service, automating processes, and informing businesses of how customers truly feel, chatbots are, figuratively speaking, single-handedly changing the face of customer service.

What Defines a Chatbot?

To clarify, a chatbot can be a computer program or AI. Companies use this technology to conduct conversations with customers online or via phone, and the chatbot uses specific audio or textual clues to decipher the needs of customers in order to assist them.

Thus, if you have an issue with a recently purchased product and jump on the company’s website to ask a question, the chat box that instantly appears is typically an AI chatbot that will pull out keywords as you type and anticipate the answer you need. If the chatbot is convincing, you’ll never know the “person” on the other side of the screen isn’t human.

Improving Customer Service

From large enterprises to small start-ups, every business aims to satisfy its customers, and the most direct way of doing so is to offer superb customer service. But companies often run into trouble when they lack an adequate number of employees to provide that support at all hours of the day. Here’s where chatbots come in.

Imagine you’re a customer shopping online at 2 a.m. for a smartwatch and need assistance. Traditionally, you would be out of luck. But, if the company uses chatbots, you could have your questions answered instantaneously and be able to make your purchase right then and there.

Chatbots can store and quickly recall more data than a human, enabling them to iterate information like product specifications and delivery dates much more quickly. Still, they aren’t completely infallible and are only as capable as they’re programmed.

For example, if a customer asks a complex question that doesn’t compute with the chatbot’s nascent knowledge, it may not be able to respond satisfactorily. It’s for this very important reason that chatbots cannot completely replace human employees.

Though they can learn and adapt, they require a mentor or co-worker. A good business model would allow chatbots to take on simple questions and field more complex questions to an agent in a cloud contact center, thus streamlining the experience for the customer and the agent.

Automating Business Processes

Chatbots are good for more than just chatting. In fact, they can assist in a number of areas, like automating a wide array of business processes within an enterprise and can be utilized in various departments.

On the other hand, your chatbot could be programmed to answer frequently asked questions from both employees and customers, as well as notify employees that a task has been marked complete. A chatbot could even be programmed to cross-sell to a customer based on that individual’s purchase or browsing history.

Harvesting Feedback

Sure, chatbots can simply record their conversations with customers, but they’re also able to gather feedback from employees when companies aren’t able to find a time or a meeting space. A chatbot is able to assist you in creating and distributing a feedback poll or survey even while you’re on the go between office and home.

It can also help you to determine levels of employee morale and gather data necessary for projects to come. In general, chatbots help you gather and interpret data, allowing you to better manage projects.

Coming Out Ahead

If half of Americans believe businesses should be available 24/7 — and the satisfaction rates of those who have interacted with a chatbot stands at 65 percent — then these chatbots seem to be fairing well in the business world.

With the ability to boost customer service, automate more business processes, and collect and interpret data, they’re still coming out ahead.