By 2019, more than a quarter of households in developed countries will use a chatbot in order to access home services (including personal services and food delivery), according to Gartner. And according to a complementary study conducted by Umanis, 80% of businesses will use chatbots in order to manage their customer interactions by 2020. The revolution is underway !
Born from the contraction of the words « chat » and “bot”, a chatbot is by definition an intelligent conversational agent capable of interacting with humans in natural language via a messaging service hosted on a website or a social network [definition by Nexworld].
It is important to distinguish 2 types of bots :
· Personal assistants such as Siri, Google Now or Cortana, which are based on artificial intelligence. These chatbots with so-called “strong” interactions are able to process a large amount of information, conduct a conversation on their own, and even show humour and emotion.
· Bots with a specific objective and mission, using a predefined scenario. For these chatbots with so-called “weak” interactions, each question is planned upstream by man so that the conversational agent can provide a reliable and consistent answer thanks to a precise analysis of the keywords of the user request.
1. AI progress brings a new dimension to chatbots
The chatbot is not a new phenomenon, the first chatbot-type program was designed in the mid-1960s (Eliza). Then in the 90s, conversational robots appeared in consumer services. In the years 2000 to 2010, one of their main areas of application is customer relations. Thus, Ikea’s chatbot (Anna) created in the mid-2000s could answer simple questions when she managed to find a match. But it is really only in recent years that chatbots have come back to the forefront. 2 reasons for this:
· Progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning
· Evolution of instant messaging services
Artificial intelligence is based on the creation of powerful algorithms that determine its quality of reflection, analysis and understanding. Technology and practices are now mature enough in order to start delivering an interesting user experience.
With the advent of artificial intelligence, chatbots are now able to provide coherent answers to specific questions and carry out more complex actions (booking, buying, seeking information, providing personal advice) while taking into account the context as well as the person asking. They also express themselves more and more naturally.
Besides, machine learning allows chatbots to increase their performance by analyzing data collected during previous conversations. The more they interact with users, the more information they get, and the better they learn to anticipate behaviours in order to adopt the right one. Information can be collected by sensors, speech or handwriting recognition systems, or from data mining.
Thus, by combining artificial intelligence and machine learning, we create an intelligent chatbot, able to adapt to each customer by offering him, for example, the most appropriate product with the right arguments that will convince him. This modern chatbot is no longer a simple assistant, but becomes a real salesman !
2. Chatbots improve the level of service
While it is undeniable that some questions will always require in-depth human interaction, it is equally undeniable that other questions, as well as some guidance needs, can be met independently by the client himself and a well-informed chatbot. As we have seen above, the number of questions that can be handled qualitatively by a chatbot increases with the evolution of technology : ordering products or information on an order, password recovery, financial information, status of an administrative procedure… A large majority of customers appreciate having the possibility to manage their orders independently, from their computer or directly from their smartphone or tablet, which allows them total flexibility and eliminates waiting times. A chatbot completed by an easily accessible “Contact” section thus offers an optimal level of service, allowing customers and prospects to choose the solution and time that best suits them in order to interact with the company that has caught their attention.
*Based on its experience, COMWAYS offers chatbots that allow both autonomous interactions with customers and prospects, while identifying the crucial moments when human intervention is required. The chatbot is then able to integrate a targeted agent of the company into the conversation on his own, in order to complete or clarify specific aspects of the answer and ensure that he accompanies the customer as best as he can until the end of the transaction.
3. Chatbots generate productivity gains and savings
While companies may still think they chatbots are expensive and complex to implement, they have a strong interest in leveraging these technologies today in order to prepare for the future.
Indeed, the implementation of a chatbot allows rapid productivity gains that generate savings in the medium term. The initial investment is thus quickly compensated. And savings are sustained over time.
Moreover, do not underestimate the cost of “not investing” which can significantly harm companies whose customers expect a high level of advice and responsiveness from. Indeed, a company that would be unable to answer its clients outside of fixed service hours may lose prospects – who will find answers from another, better equipped website. The image effect should also be considered : customers are increasingly expecting to find a chatbots service for answering their questions or guiding them. In the absence of this service, the modernity and reliability of the company might be questioned.
*If you are interested, our COMWAYS experts can offer you a simulation adapted to your business, specifying the estimated duration for your chatbot to break-even.
4. Chatbots allow teams to focus their time on value-added missions
For call centers, companies with a large after-sales service, or even any company present on social media and dealing with community management, the time spent answering simple questions or guiding customers can be very significant. To the point of fully mobilizing valuable resources. However, while these missions must be carried out successfully (because customers’ requests cannot remain unanswered !), they are nevertheless not very strategic and perceived as ungrateful and redundant by the operational teams.
Today, there is no need to keep on mobilizing human resources in order to handle predictable requests, a chatbot will do so with a very high level of satisfaction. Allowing the company to gain in motivation from a human resources perspecive, and in overall productivity from the financial point of view (as mentioned above).
5. Chatbots are operating 24×7
It is well known that machines do not have the same needs as we do… so they do not count their hours. Setting up a chatbot can thus allow the company to increase its service hours at a lower cost, avoiding at the same time any loss of contacts with prospects.
As chatbots provide reliable 24-hour follow-up, they free up time for teams to address high value-added requests in a qualitative way (as we have seen above).
6. Chatbots change the deal from the beginning of the customer journey
At the very beginning of the customer journey (or rather the future customer at this stage), this one identifies a need and start looking for the best way to meet it. This is the time when he visits company websites, reads white papers, registers for free trial sessions… At this stage, the company must be able to provide the right information to the prospect in the most engaging way possible. The customization of messages can then change everything.
At this first stage, using chatbots to target the prospect with the right message that will meet their expectations can improve the conversion rate from +10% to +40%.
7. Chatbots facilitate conversion at the decision stage
The decision stage is the stage during which the prospect becomes an effective customer. During the chat session, an instant messaging service run by a chatbot can again allow you to customize messages and offer a tailored experience that will decide the prospect in your favour. But it can also, quite simply, allow the prospect to establish a first interaction with the company at the time of his choice, directly from his mobile or tablet, without the need for human interaction.
When you know that many customers retain the company with which they interacted first, you understand how important this service can be. In addition, the conversations conducted by the chatbot make it possible to gather relevant information and make it available to the marketing and sales teams for further conversations, and to adapt the offer in the future.
8. Chatbots also improve customer retention
Once you have won the new customer, it is time to think about how to keep him in your home ? At this stage of retention, you must ensure that the experience you offer is optimal and fully satisfies them. Again, allowing the customer to interact through the communication channel of their choice, at the time of their choice and in complete autonomy by providing them with instant messaging (or another adapted chatbot format), can make all the difference.
In addition, automating your customer support (to a greater or lesser extent) can significantly improve your customer experience : help videos, tutorials, installation wizards and other “FAQ bots” automatically delivered by chatbots when a need is identified, allow you to offer immediate and constant assistance to your customers.
Finally, instant messaging chatbots can also deploy study questionnaires for you in order to collect feedback from your customers. This allows you to monitor your satisfaction rate and make any necessary corrections if necessary.
9. Chatbots are also formidable allies in developing recommendations
Once your customer is convinced by your solution, the last step in the ideal customer journey would be to turn him into an “influencer” to recommend your solution to other prospects. Again, chatbots can assist you by offering customers with the highest satisfaction rates a public ratingfor the company (called a “Net Promoter Score”). A smart chatbot will even be able to direct different satisfied customers to the different sites and rating platforms that are relevant to your business, in order to ensure that you have the best recommendations on the entire web.
Another objective at this stage may be to increase the value of your satisfied customers. In order to do so, chatbots can offer promotions or information on new products and personalized services to customers that they themselves would have spotted as “satisfied”.
In short, whatever the stage of the customer journey, an intelligent messaging service is a very valuable tool to build and strengthen the relationship between your company and your customers in a sustainable way.
10. If you are a « call center », chatbots are ideal for you
As displayed in this article, chatbots offer growing benefits for many companies as technology evolves. This is particularly true for call centres, where chatbots are at the very heart of the activity.
At COMWAYS, our chatbots expertise has enabled us to work with the call centres of various European companies, for convincing results. If you work in a call centre and are interested in this subject, you can contact us at 991 65 9872663, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via our “Contact” section on https://comways.eu/contact-us/ for a first free advice service by phone.
And if you represent one of the many other companies for which chatbots have great potential, feel free to contact us too. We would be happy to develop the topics mentioned above and answer any questions that you may have.