How to Introduce Chatbots to Your Customer Support

Customers’ expectations are changing. They want self-service options, personalized interactions, and a seamless digital-to-live-agent experience. Chatbots empower businesses to meet these expectations while increasing customer loyalty and CX efficiency.

These steps will allow businesses to “use their humans wisely,” leveraging an automation-first, hybrid approach where chatbots take care of routine interactions while live agents deal with more complex, high value calls.

How do chatbots contribute to great CX?

Expectations are shifting, creating an opportunity for competitive advantage. Customers expect world-class CX, and businesses that can meet this need will gain a competitive advantage.

Satisfied customers become loyal customers, and great CX leads to higher retention rates. Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by more than 25%.

Challenges business face in providing efficient and fast CX

Many businesses know they need to level-up their CX, but providing consistently great CX is a challenge. Businesses face some serious questions, like:

  • How to shorten wait times?
  • How to manage CX teams to maximize efficiency?
  • How to make a representative available while ensuring that their time is used wisely, and not wasted on repetitive FAQs?
  • How to transform routine interactions into moments that will delight customers, turn them into brand advocates, and increase retention and lifetime value?

Getting to know chatbots, the not-so-secret CX weapon

Despite their name, “chatbots” aren’t designed for chit chat. They are designed to be a valuable part of your business’ CX strategy, helping lower wait times and increase efficiency.

Chatbots work with your live support team to solve customer inquiries using automated interactions. They use artificial intelligence to handle these interactions in a way that blends with your live support. Whether customers are using a self-serve option, getting directed to FAQs, or giving information to a voice-activated bot, they will be told they are interacting with a machine.

Chances are, you have already seen a chatbot in action, either as a customer or in your workplace. In fact, you’ve probably interacted with a chatbot without even thinking about it.

Forrester Consulting’s Snapshot survey, commissioned by Ada in 2019, commented on the growing adoption of chatbots across industries. Forrester's analysts noted that most business leaders agreed that chatbot platforms can lead to superior CX and that available tools are falling short: "most of the currently available conversational platforms that automate interactions across the customer journey are not business-friendly... [and] not able to access enterprisewide data to personalize interactions."

Chatbots as part of customer service priorities

Priority #1: Offer self-serve options for CX

When people think “customer service department,” they imagine a call centre with live agents answering customer questions. The all-human model is shifting as many routine calls can be addressed through self-serve options such as FAQs, articles, and automated responses.

This multichannel self-serve approach addresses one of customer’s top complaints: waiting for service. Harris Interactive found that 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach an agent. There’s even a corner of the internet dedicated to “hacks” to avoid wait times, where customers detail the best times to call, track average wait times, and compare response times across channels.

Self-service options allow customers to get answers without waiting for live support. Similarly, much of the standard customer information — name, account number, nature of request — can be obtained by a chatbot rather than a person.

Priority #2: Enable live agents and CX departments with industry-leading tools

A common misconception about automation and AI is that it will replace industries or jobs entirely.

However, most AI-powered tech works best as tools for businesses to use along with their existing services and staff.

So, what makes for a better CX? Chatbot experience or a live agent?

The answer is: both.

The best customer service set-ups are a hybrid of automated solutions with personal human interactions. From the customer’s perspective, the journey is a smooth series of easy-to-use questions and responses, where the road has convenient, easy-to-access off-ramps where they can jump to a real person. From a business’ perspective, chatbots increase efficiency and decrease support volume, enabling live agents to spend more time on complex problems.

Priority #3: Increasing CX personalization

Today’s customers have high expectations. People want answers quickly, accurately and specific to their needs. It wouldn’t hurt, either, for businesses to address customers by name, remember their purchasing history, and add a little personality to the support experience.

Personalized conversations are a key part of meeting these expectations.

The Forrester Snapshot found most leaders agree that personalizing customer interactions leads to real benefits: “To best reflect the needs of the customer, firms must offer easily configured, well-integrated, and highly personalized chatbot experiences that are specifically tailored to the interests, context, and behaviors of the user.” Chatbots allow businesses to offer this personalized experience and make the most of every customer interaction.

Steps for introducing personalized automation across the support journey

Step #1: Introducing the basic FAQ bot

FAQs are a useful tool to keep customers engaged and informed.

FAQs are not, however, an efficient use of live support agents’ time. The sheer volume of RAQ-style inquiries contribute to extended wait times, which are among customers' top complaints. More than that, live support agents will quickly find themselves bored after a few months of answering the same dozen questions, causing high turnover rates.

To get started with a chatbot, businesses will want to begin by automating their FAQs.

Businesses, your starting point is looking at your existing support inquiries and tickets, identifying trends and asking yourself key questions. Specifically:

  • What are the repetitive, mundane inquiries most frequently asked?
  • What interactions would save your customer’s time by automatically answering their questions?
  • What inquiries would benefit your agent by saving time and automatically gathering relevant information?

With this information, CX teams can start automating their most annoying, repetitive, time-consuming tasks and have more energy to focus on valuable, complicated problems.

Step #2: using the bot to collect important information

Although customers’ questions may be repetitive, some repetitive questions contain valuable information that live agents will need to know for every inquiry. FAQs like customer name, account number, contact information, and nature of inquiry are essential for your agent getting to the solution quickly and effectively.

Does that mean that CX teams should spend their agents’ time asking these repetitive questions? Definitely not!

Instead, leverage a chatbot to collect and save important information about the customers and their inquiries.

As the customer conversation moves forward, your system can use this information to guide the call to the proper agent, while your agent can use the information to personalize the conversation, and, where necessary, quickly create a ticket.

Furthermore, with this new information, the chatbot can also personalize the conversation. Throughout engaging with customers, the chatbot can pull this saved information to customize the experience, including first name, location, device type, and more.

Step #3: Customizing the conversation

Customization is key for surprising and delighting customers. Chatbots kick off this process, and benefits carry forward to create a more customized live support experience.

What are some of the most significant advantages that chatbots provide to live agents?

Broadly, chatbots arm agents with new tools and new information, allowing to further customize their interactions with customers.

More specifically, better-informed agents can de-escalate conversations before they turn into retention problems or complaints.

In addition to reducing churn, this same data can be leveraged to generate up-sell opportunities. Agents can access customer data to quickly answer questions and proactively offer discounts.

These advantages demonstrate how fast, informed customization makes the conversation smoother and easier for both customer and agent.

Want the full guide, with steps #4-6, where we explain how businesses can gain actionable learnings from chatbot conversations? Check out the full Automation 101 guide here.

Use your humans wisely

Automation is inducing digital transformations industry-wide, and that revolution is well underway in CX. Some executives wonder whether if they need to pick a side and commit to either full-scale automation or exclusive live support.

At Ada, we say “use your humans wisely.”

The winning strategy for superior CX is using an automation-first, hybrid approach of both chatbots and live humans: chatbots for routine interactions and live agents for more complex, high value calls.

This strategy keeps customers happy through fast, personalized responses. It keeps agents engaged as important, value-added contributors to the customer journey. And it helps your bottom line, through both cost savings and greater opportunities for upsell and customer retention.

What’s Next? Ada has the resources and expertise to explain how AI and automation technologies — predictive chat, virtual agents, machine learning and analytics — can drive superior CX for your customer and improve your customer service strategy.  Check them out here.

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