When chatbots take simple, repetitive questions off a support team’s plate, they give agents time back to provide more meaningful support—nothing kills team productivity like forcing employees to do work that could be automated.
Bots can also integrate into global support efforts and ease the need for international hiring and training. They’re a cost-effective way to deliver instant support that never sleeps—over the weekends, on holidays, and in every time zone.
What are AI chatbots?
An AI chatbot is a first-response tool that greets, engages, and serves customers in a friendly and familiar way. This technology can provide customized, immediate responses and help center article suggestions and collect customer information with in-chat forms. Using natural language processing (NLP) chatbots can recognize and react to conversation.
That means AI chatbots can escalate conversations to a live agent when necessary and intelligently route tickets to the right support representative for the task with all the context they need to jump in and troubleshoot. Chatbots can also use AI to provide personalized suggestions to agents on how to deal with a given inquiry. AI bots can be deployed over various messaging apps or channels to ensure customers get instant responses 24/7.
How does a chatbot work?
Bots use predefined conversation flows or artificial intelligence (AI) to answer questions and guide customers through different scenarios, such as login issues, payment problems, or booking instructions–to name a few. AI bots can also learn from each interaction and adjust their actions to provide better support.
Chatbots work best with straightforward, frequently-asked questions. Unless their underlying technology is especially sophisticated, bots typically can’t handle difficult, multi-part questions like a support agent can.
How can an AI chatbot help your business?
An AI chatbot can help your business scale customer support, improve customer engagement, and provide an overall better customer experience. Here are a few things your business can accomplish with the help of a bot.
- Help more customers in less time and boost customer satisfaction
According to Gartner research, organizations report a reduction of up to 70 percent in call, chat and/or email inquiries after implementing a virtual customer assistant. Many companies have a small variation of questions representing a large portion of total support volume, and therefore cost. These high-frequency questions tend to be low in value and simple to solve without human intervention, making them the perfect questions for a bot.
By taking over these basic, repetitive inquiries, chatbots enable support teams to help more customers in less time while also giving agents time back to focus on higher-stake issues. Customers benefit from reduced wait times, which increases satisfaction. In fact, an MIT technology review found that 90 percent of businesses report recording large improvements in the speed of complaint resolution after deploying a chatbot. And it’s not just support teams that benefit from chatbots; sales and marketing teams do too. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2025, “75% of B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales playbooks with artificial intelligence (AI) guided selling solutions.”
- Offer help as soon as customers need it and anticipate their needs
Providing always-on support is no longer a stand-out feature; it’s something customers have come to expect. In fact, 43 percent of consumers expect 24/7 customer service, according to an e-commerce study. And as customers’ expectations continue to rise, this figure is only expected to increase.
Customers don’t always want to take the extra step of making a phone call or keep up with the back-and-forth of an email thread. The most adaptable businesses are going where their customers are, adding new channels, so customers have convenient options to get help as soon as they need it.
With the machine learning that powers many chatbots, AI can help you anticipate customer needs and surface personalized answers to their questions before they even have to ask. And according to Gartner, proactive customer service results in a full percentage point increase in the net promoter score, customer satisfaction score, customer effort score, and value enhancement score.
- Improve the bottom line
Juniper Research predicts that by 2023, chatbots will save banking, healthcare, and retail sectors up to $11 billion annually. That’s the difference between a business being in the red vs. the black. In other words, a chatbot can mean the difference between turning a profit and having to explain to stakeholders why the company fell short.
What’s more, resolving support issues via social media can be up to six times cheaper than a voice interaction. That’s because messaging and chat channels allow agents to help more customers at once, which increases their overall throughput. Also, AI chatbots can automate and resolve many of the more routine, repetitive service operations, such as answering frequently asked questions. This allows agents to focus on more complex, high-value conversations.