In recent years, the way customers interact with businesses has fundamentally changed. Customers today are craving personalized and proactive engagement wherever and whenever they interact with brands. That means you need to meet them where they are, whenever they want. If you’re still relying on voice calls and emails to connect with your customers, it’s time to explore new channels.
When it comes to providing anytime, anywhere support, chatbots can deliver. While many people think of chatbots as being fairly simplistic, only capable of handling basic queries, the fact is chatbots today are much more—especially when powered by AI and machine learning. Chatbots provide personalized customer experiences and powerful sales opportunities that enable you to grow your business.
What is a chatbot?
Put simply, a chatbot is a software application that automates interactions, allowing customers to self-serve while deflecting queries from live agents. Chatbots today can do a lot more than answer FAQs—they can support multi-turn conversations and help customers complete transactions such as making a purchase, updating account details, or managing their money.
For businesses, a chatbot is the secret to managing your customer journey and improving CSAT without driving up costs. A chatbot can be deployed on the front-end of your sales and marketing funnel to help people find useful information on your website or even generate leads. It can sit on the back-end of your sales funnel to offer in-product support and upgrade opportunities. You can even use a chatbot to meet customers in the channels they’re most comfortable using, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, and SMS. Many companies deploy a chatbot to work alongside their sales, marketing, and support agents around the clock. These chatbots collect incredibly valuable customer conversation data that feeds back to the automated customer experience team to help them deliver better and increasingly differentiated customer experiences.
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Why do you need a chatbot?
Chatbots can be used in a number of different ways, depending on your business needs. Whatever the industry, a chatbot can provide 24/7 support without increasing operational costs. This is important because customers today want to be able to get information, answers, and results the moment they think about something—so, if they decide at 2 in the morning that they want to return a pair of jeans, they want instant access to returns information and maybe even complete the refund right there in bed. Obviously, round-the-clock availability can’t be expected from your human customer support team, and it’s certainly not scalable. That’s why building a chatbot is so valuable to your bottom line. A chatbot can offer immediate answers, anytime, which makes customers feel valued and builds loyalty.
Chatbots can help businesses increase conversion rates, generate better leads by weeding through unlikely buyers, and combat churn by responding to more inquiries faster and more efficiently. They also make your agents’ jobs easier by collecting customer details upfront, saving them from repetitive questions. With fewer tedious tasks, your teams have more time and resources to provide meaningful results your customers will love.
How to build a chatbot: what are the different types?
Chatbots can range from the most basic models which can only answer simple FAQ-type inquiries to advanced AI-powered solutions that can support two-way conversations and process complex transactions. A chatbot that uses conditional logic can differentiate customer needs and align service accordingly. It can prioritize and escalate time-sensitive and high-value needs, target offers using customer behavior, interest, and intent to maximize up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and streamline the sales process by automating key tasks like lead qualification and routing. And an AI-powered chatbot can know your customers’ needs even before they do. By learning as it goes, AI enhances customer experiences by predicting individual needs and interests and automating personalized responses that will knock your customers’ socks off.
Chatbots can be used by sales and marketing teams to answer questions in real-time, delivering powerful results right away. For inquiries that need a human touch, the chatbot can instantly connect customers with an agent, equipping them with the full chat transcript and any valuable information to help make the transition as seamless as possible. Best of all, your customers don’t need to bounce around from person to person as they do on the phone—the agent simply joins them in the chat window.
How to Build a Chatbot: Optimizing for an Automated Customer Experience
The Benefits of Automating the Customer Experience with a Chatbot
Many customer issues can be resolved quickly and sometimes working with an agent can actually slow things down—especially when there’s a queue. Automated support gives customers help without the wait, and if a human is needed, the automated system can route to the most qualified agent. This helps boost CSAT, drive loyalty, and increase lifetime value. Plus, it equips your teams to get more done and allows you to scale immensely with no additional cost or internal resources
Knowing how to build a chatbot to automate customer experiences helps you decrease ticket volumes, shorten wait times, get agents more engaged, and make your customers happy. Plus, you don’t need a technical background to do it. Chatbot solutions today are designed for use by anyone—which means no waiting for your IT team to get it up and running. Even better, with an accessible solution you can put your best resource to work building your automated customer experience: the frontline customer support stars who know your customers best. In less than 30 days, your team can build a bot and start reaping the benefits. Lower ticket volumes, shorter wait times, engaged agents, and happy customers. Helping customers help themselves saves you a ton of resources and drives revenue.
Tips to Build a Chatbot for a Seamless Automated Experience
Building a chatbot is about customizing interactions to work for your industry and business, and creating a personal connection with your customers. For example, a FinTech company will want to enable customers to transfer money and an insurance company will need a chatbot to manage claims. Here are some best practices that apply to any vertical.
How to Build a Chatbot Tip #1: Strategize Internally
First, assign a dedicated Bot Manager. This person shouldn’t be a tech guru, rather it should be someone who works closely with your customers and is committed to making a real organizational change. Next, determine which channels you want to use. Just your website? WeChat? Native mobile app? Figure out your strategy for handing off to live agents and which platform they’ll use—messaging channels, live chat, etc, and how your chatbot integrates with your systems of record, such as Zendesk, Salesforce, or Oracle. Identify your top inquiries and begin building conversation flows and that will serve up the right answers.
Be sure to let your customers know they’re interacting with a chatbot—they like to know who they’re talking to and will be glad they don’t have to wait in line anymore. Finally, deploy your chatbot and start measuring the results. You can use analytics around things like customer behavior, resolution time, and frequent service issues to inform your teams and improve on all levels. When it’s time to optimize, you’ll be able to make better decisions with the data and insights you’ve collected from every single automated customer conversation.
How to Build a Chatbot Tip #2: Personalize Interactions
You can really raise your CSAT when your chatbot supports intelligent dialogue and solves bigger problems, especially if you begin to gather personal information about the people that are reaching out. Collect contact details or account information in the early stages of interactions. This makes the conversation feel more personal and allows the chatbot to perform heftier tasks. With personal details, chatbots can help customers do things like book flights, get better project management software, or find a bag that matches their shoes.
You can also tailor your levels of support according to the customer’s account, such as membership tier or account balance. And you can empower agents with relevant information and past conversations the second they connect with the customer.
Don’t forget, you can also leverage historical data that you already have to provide customers with a personalized message immediately. This works great in all industries, but as a great example—if a shopper abandoned their cart the last time they visited your site, the chatbot can let them know that those items are on sale or are still available for purchase.
How to Build a Chatbot Tip #3: Grow Revenue
Make your chatbot a member of your sales team by giving them the smarts and the information to meet consumers at the beginning of their journey and guide them to purchase. Track which interactions lead to sales or upgrades, then find ways to up-sell and cross-sell to customers based on their responses or account info. Start with your top five sales interactions and focus on incorporating them into the right conversation flows. As much as possible, tailor your pitches to the customer’s profile and what they’ve told your chatbot.
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How are Chatbots Changing the Game?
Chatbots are so helpful and seamless that many people now prefer them to talking to an agent on the phone. Chatbots can analyze responses and reply appropriately if they sense a customer is frustrated—and then use this data to automatically improve future interactions. The more chatbots can do, the more companies will use them to free up agents to focus on business-related tasks and better customer relationship management. Chatbots help you scale faster and improve your products so you can keep up with your competition. With APIs to reach people on their favorite platforms, you can meet your customers where they are and take them farther.
Chatbots for Marketing
Chatbots open customers up to more. People may be nervous to engage with a salesperson because they feel social pressure, but they can be totally frank with a chatbot. If the chatbot has their personal information ready, they may be willing to make an immediate update such as upgrading their service to another tier. Chatbots also give you more information about customers so you can sort out which people are most open to certain offers. And they can gather information like email addresses for future marketing campaigns and provide demographic data.
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Chatbots for Customer Support
Most customer support concerns are easy to resolve. Updating a password is just a matter of knowing where to click. Customers who want to schedule an appointment can find the perfect time once they’ve got options in front of them, without going back and forth with a live agent about what’s available. Chatbots can improve your offerings, such as speeding up your grocery checkout process so frustrated customers don’t end up going to the store. Maybe most importantly, chatbots respond to people right away, so customers never feel forgotten and can get what they want. This level of customer service not only saves customers from negative experiences, it improves their lives.
Ada makes it easy to build and deploy an AI-powered chatbot. Empower your customers and reduce wait times by up to 98%, while deflecting 80% of customer inquiries. Schedule a demo today to find out how.