The growth and demand for your brand depend on the quality of customer experiences you deliver. Given the competitive world we live in, it isn’t enough to simply maintain a contact touchpoint for your customers. The target audience wants more than just a question-answer session with your representatives. They need interactions.
According to the Microsoft 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report, 54% of customers have higher customer service expectations than they did a year ago, indicating a substantial growth in demands. Of these customers, 66% belonged to the age group of 18 to 34 years.
To meet this growing demand, organisations are integrating virtual chatbots with their communication system. Chatbots are programmed applications that can interact with customers and provide contextual answers to queries.
With this in mind, let us delve deeper into the intricacies of chatbots.
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What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots are empowered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Language (ML). The programme understands dialects, human language, and context, thereby directing customers to the best-suited resolution for their queries.
A chatbot greets customers with personalised messages and offers answers based on specific keywords in the query. The algorithm matches the keyword against a centralised repository to provide the answers.
In case a relevant answer is not available in the knowledge base, the chatbot may transfer the call to a supervisor. AI-powered chatbots have a self-learning mechanism which means they learn from experience.
The tool saves all new answers and presents them to customers whenever required. An expert should update the chatbot as and when your service or product receives an upgrade. Best of all, chatbots are conversational and understand intent, unlike traditional systems which sound robotic.
Based on the State of Service report, 64% of agents with AI chatbots spend a majority of their time resolving complicated technical issues as compared to 50% of agents without AI chatbots.
With this understanding, let us now look into a few of the must-have features of chatbots.
1. Should allow third-party integration
On-page chatbots offer great advantages. However, to gain the most out of this technology you should be able to integrate it with third-party websites and applications. As a result, your customers shall be able to access your chatbots on social media platforms like Facebook, Telegram, Instagram, etc.
This practice ensures widespread reach. You will be able to connect with customers through a medium they prefer the most. Customers may initially hesitate to visit your website or interact with your bot. They may also fear the risk of cyber-attacks. Integrating chatbots with familiar social media platforms is an easy solution to this problem.
Furthermore, social media platforms are very simple to understand thereby allowing easy access even to the least tech-savvy customer. Therefore, the capability to integrate with third-party results in improved customer engagement.
2. Must integrate with other tools
This is an important part of customer support. For example, having to provide basic information repeatedly can easily irk a customer. So, if a client connects with your chatbot more than once, answering the same questions each time may be frustrating for them.
You should ensure that your chatbot is integrated with tools like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. This will allow your bot access to general information about the client along with a history of interactions they may have had.
So, when a caller has the same issue, your bot will be able to continue from the previous conversation, instead of having to start all over again. This capability not only saves time but also improves customer experience.
3. Should initiate contextual conversations
There is a world of a difference between chatbots simply answering questions and initiating an intelligent conversation. An engaging interaction will not just improve customer experiences but will also deliver information that will improve the bottom line.
Providing accurate data about products and services will result in a much more informed audience base. To achieve this, the interaction has to be conversational and not robotic.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) equip chatbots with the competency to understand the query presented by the customer and begin contextual discussions. It keeps learning from customer responses and improves with experience, delivering better conversations each time.
Your chatbot should be able to interpret questions no matter the complexity of the sentences. The bot should be able to derive key pieces of information from its memory to personalise the conversation and bring it back on track, even if the customer initiates off-topic questions.
4. Should be able to showcase the brand
Delivering consistent customer experiences across channels is important. For example, consider that you present yourself as a mature corporate entity on your website and collaterals. You should try to reflect the same through your bot. The conversation initiated by your bot should sound serious and talk business.
Furthermore, you may use catchphrases in your marketing collaterals. Highlight the same phrases on your social media handles as well. Ensure that your bots use these terms when interacting with the customers. This helps enhance the recall value of your brand.
Moreover, make sure you follow branding norms and include your brand logo, colours, and fonts in the chat windows. This will help reflect your consistency as a brand to your target audience.
5. Should improve continuously
Your chatbot should be able to evolve and improve over time. It should be able to go with the flow of the conversation and respond to sentiments accordingly. The customers should feel that they are being heard and acknowledged.
A chatbot should also be re-programmable and accept improvisations when you decide to do so. For example, there may be changes, like an update in company information or revival of branding guidelines. The tool should be able to reflect these changes if and when necessary.
Furthermore, you can improve your bot by enabling it to understand the colloquial language. We use a lot of abbreviations when texting friends. It will be a huge add-on if bots are able to build on this capability and offer seamless customer experiences.
6. Must allow data analysis
Chatbots can process massive amounts of data every day. They accept data on customer queries, views about brands, reactions to answers, individual preferences and more.
While these capabilities are an integral part of chatbots, next-gen bots should be able to provide analytical data based on these insights. This will help stakeholders have a hold on the performances of bots to understand their acceptance level amongst the audience.
Also, this data can be used by businesses to further train their bots for enhanced customer engagement.
Chatbots have become an integral part of customer experiences. Using them will help you earn a competitive edge while cutting costs on hiring a customer representative workforce.
The chatbot features that we have just discussed highlight the immense scope for its application from continuous improvisation to enhanced marketing efforts and better engagement.
Olivia Trott is a technical writer at Acefone, prominent hosted phone system provider. Olivia is an outgoing person who enjoys writing, is an SEO enthusiast, and often interacts with others in intellectual conversations. She enjoys listening to music in her free time.