No matter how they choose to contact you, whether it’s through email, social media, or any other channel, customers expect you to be available on the spot. The reality is, there is no ultimate rule to follow when it comes to how you engage with your customers. What matters more is, are you there to answer them in an instant? For most businesses, it can be tough to monitor what’s happening on every channel 24/7, but this is where AI chatbots can help. This technology can provide customers with on-demand assistance without overextending your team.
…But first, let’s break down the misconceptions.
Before we dive deep into this topic, let’s first break down a common misconception. Chatbots and virtual agents are often used synonymously—but this is far from accurate. Chatbots are a type of conversational AI, but not all are necessarily powered by it. Instead, chatbots fall under two categories:
1. Rule-based Chatbots
These traditional tools follow predefined conversation flows set by a human and are told what to say in response to specific keywords only. This bot must be trained in advance for every possible scenario to be able to respond effectively. This type of chatbot is ideal for answering frequently asked questions (FAQ) and addressing basic customer issues, such as shipping information.
2. Conversational or AI Chatbots
Conversational AI is a broader term that refers to AI-driven communication technologies. This includes AI chatbots and virtual agents. It uses a combination of data, machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) to recognize text inputs and mimic human interactions and conversations. A good example of this technology would be Apple’s Siri or Alexa by Amazon. These bots are able to have non-scripted conversations and can progressively teach themselves through reinforcement learning.
Let’s take a look at the benefits that conversational AI can provide to your customers, employees, and business through different use cases.
1. Delivers instant responses to customers
It’s impossible to be available around the clock seven days a week, but unlike human agents, AI chatbots don’t sleep. Conversational AI can independently handle multiple claims at once – even if its past your working hours, with increased efficiency. The volume of interactions handled by conversational agents has increased by as much as 250% cross-industry since the pandemic. A quick response is one of many ways conversational AI can amplify your customer’s experience.
Take the travel industry as an example. During the brink of the pandemic, flight delays, border restrictions, and frequent cancellations are just a few of the problems that surfaced. Customers felt more uncertainty. Call centers were flooded with calls. Employees were overwhelmed. To bridge the gap in their customer service, conversational AI became a long-term solution, including AirAsia. The airline handled 10x the normal number of queries, resolved 87% of cases, and impressively managed to increase support tickets by 1,671% – mitigating churn during one of the most turbulent times in history.
2. Provides a personalized experience
One of the major benefits of conversational AI is its capacity to store large volumes of data. The more it collects and processes information, the more personalized the experience becomes for customers. Data is then converted into valuable insight and extracted as personalized recommendations and notifications. For example, if a customer is struggling to pay a high utility bill, an AI chatbot can recommend built-in alerts and goal settings to reduce consumption for the upcoming month. Chatbots can also go as far as recommending a product that customers might not have initially considered, resulting in a cross-sell or upsell of a product. This can inhibit friction in your future customer interactions and provide guided customer journeys that can build more trust.
3. Empowers customers through 24/7 assistance
Customers don’t like waiting in long queues to be served, especially for a miniscule inquiry. How can conversational AI change that? A customer visits their online banking portal and asks a virtual agent how to take out a loan. The chatbot then directs them to resources on loans, and offers them the opportunity to begin a loan application. Once complete, the virtual agent transfers the customer to a human agent who can help finalize his/her loan application. Imagine how much time and effort is being saved when customers are provided with the opportunity to submit their requests from the comfort of their home.
4. Offers unified support
Human agents can provide inconsistent responses for the same query for many reasons. For example, if a customer is wondering what an online store’s exchange policy is, a newly hired agent might lack the proper knowledge and experience at the company to provide the customer with an accurate answer. Fortunately, it isn’t impossible to provide customers with the consistency they want when you hand these repetitive tasks to an AI chatbot. This technology can be programmed to resolve information-seeking inquiries, and customers might even prefer them over picking up the phone. Besides the fact that your customer support is now consistent across different agents and channels, no valuable human time and skill is wasted. Instead, they can be repurposed towards deeper customer issues of which businesses can set tolerances for for human involvement.
5. Fluent in all languages
They say a child soaks up a new language like a sponge, and an AI chatbot does just that. AI chatbots can improve their fluency in any language and increase in maturity the more they converse, thanks to its progressive learning capabilities and algorithms. The artificial intelligence technology that powers these bots can recognize and extract structure and regularities in data and convert them into algorithms to learn a certain skill. You can say an AI chatbot is your classic linguist at best. Want to learn more about this? Read more related content here.
Increased agent efficiency
Is it possible to work hard while hardly working? Yes, if you leave all the mundane tasks to your bots. The average waiting time for live chat queues is five minutes and 57 seconds until customers receive a response, but many consider this a long time and leave the chat. Fortunately, with bots, there is no such thing as wait time. Responses are almost instantaneous. By doing this, customer issues are resolved much faster, helping you reach an optimal average handle time. Bots can handle hundreds, if not thousands of cases at once and can solve them in less time. 80% of customer’s queries can be resolved by chatbots without any human supervision, making them an ideal customer support tool for companies with high traffic.
Once you embrace the new norm and allow virtual agents to handle big chunks of your workload, you empower your employees and support them with technology that helps them work more efficiently.
Reduced cost to serve and scalability
Staffing a customer service department can be costly, especially if you are looking to answer questions outside your regular office hours. Providing assistance via conversational interfaces can reduce operational costs, especially if you are a small to large sized company. When expanding, AI chatbots can also support businesses by taking on more tasks without causing any disruptions.
Conversational AI is far from ordinary. Embracing this new technology will empower your employees with the support they need to provide a superior customer experience, and build a future-ready workforce.
Book a demo with us today for a chance to restructure your front office into a highly efficient, customer-centric system.