HOW CHATBOTS ARE CHANGING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE LANDSCAPE
We all know that one of the most important pillars of customer service is speed. The critical factors being: How much time does it take to get a response from a company and how fast is the problem resolved? One of the problems that companies face in delivering customer service is the challenge of balancing the number of customer service representatives, and the volume of customer calls and inquiries. As the number of customer inquiries increases past an ideal ratio, customer service employees are forced to do a tenuous juggling act. As they are inundated with customer calls and complaints, employees struggle to provide the best customer service to customers while racing against the clock.
One of the most frustrating experiences for a customer is having to hold on the telephone for minutes on end to be served, or waste valuable time navigating an automated matrix. Years ago with the advent of sophisticated telephone routing systems, many companies adopted this technology with the expectation of increased efficiency for customers and employees. But where technology was supposed to make us more efficient, in many ways it has decreased efficiency and increased aggravation. We now see that even with these breakthroughs, we remain tethered to the time limits per individual; the amount of time a single employee has to resolve a customer situation.
The result of some of these systems in many cases, has been the opposite of what was intended. Especially in the case of telephone systems, people feel ignored, frustrated and that their time is being wasted. After dealing with this several times, many customers simply opt out of the interaction altogether
Human time is limited and human interaction is currently the crux of the customer experience. Apart from representatives having necessary skills, there must be an adequate number of customer service staff to deal with the volume of customers a company interacts with, and the time each of them takes.
A USEFUL DEVELOPMENT: CHATBOT HELPERS
But what if there was a way to radically scale up the number of customers you could service without hiring more people? What if we could multiply time? Sounds impossible right? But what if there was a machine that could deliver responses and solutions to customers at 100 times the speed of a human? It`s almost like multiplying time.
So what are we talking about? The newest wave of technology that is already impacting customer experience globally- Chatbots.
Chatbots are automated programs that are used within Messenger applications (Facebook Messenger for example).
These Chatbots are programmed to give you an almost immediate response to questions in a specific area. At the moment, functionality in many cases is restricted to the amount of information that is programmed into the bot. But even in spite of this, the potential for bots to reduce workloads of customer service representatives and increase speed of resolution for customers is immense.
Think of the amount of time that will be saved if customers are able to get information and have problems solved by a Chatbot that can respond to hundreds and even thousands of customers at the same time. The productivity boost would be astronomical.
Initially bots can be used to deal with very straight forward and repetitive and easy to solve issues for a customer service centre. This will free up customer service agents` time to solve more complex customer issues. But over time we can be sure to see a proliferation of far more complex bots that can handle a variety of customer issues.
Here are two bots that have been created so far. Test them for yourself! (Keep in mind that the Chatbots are programmed to respond to a specific set of relevant commands so for best results, use short commands with the keyword listed below)
- Kayak : Kayak Chatbot
A chat bot created for the travel company “Kayak”. This bot helps you find out about flights, hotels and rental cars. Try it out! Use words like flights, hotels, cars. Example: “Find Hotel in Paris”
- First American Bank (Trial Chatbot)* : First American Trial Chatbot
This is only a trial bot linked to the First American Bank. We`ve included it for you to get an example of how a Chatbot can help with banking. Try it out! Use words like branch, balance, mortgage.
Obviously the usefulness of bots is determined by the usefulness of the solutions and information they are able to provide. But in the realm of customer care and customer experience, even when programmed within a narrow range, these bots can be extremely useful. Think of a hotel for example where 30% of calls may be about finding available dates or finding out the cost of a room. Chatbots could significantly reduce the amount of call time and human resources allocated to these kinds of repeat inquiries.
Just like everything else, it requires monitoring and constant improvement, and the human touch is still something that is very much desired by customers. But Chatbots are already improving the customer experience for customers, and we only see their impact increasing and improving in the future.