Everything You Need to Know About Chatbot Support
AI technology can enhance your brand’s digital interactions, improving the overall customer experience. We’ll explore how your brand can effectively implement chatbot support as well as other uses for bots beyond chat.
What are chatbots and why should I use them?
“A chatbot is a conversational piece of software powered by pre-programmed responses or artificial intelligence (AI) to answer questions without the need of a human operator,” writes G2. There are rule-based chatbots, AI chatbots, and machine learning chatbots. Chatbots can live within any major chat product, like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, text messages, or a brand-owned messaging channel like Khoros Messaging.
Chatbot customer service is a big opportunity for brands because people are now using messenger apps more than they are using social networks, writes Chatbots Magazine. Chatbots offer unique benefits, like the ability to offer 24/7 service, and they can easily acquire customer information, writes G2.
Our ebook, The Bot Balancing Act, explains that AI in general and chatbots in particular are receiving a lot of attention now because many brands need to handle ever-increasing volumes of digital communications. But, with the enthusiasm comes concern: Brands fear negative impacts to the customer experience with chatbot support. However, your brand can meet those concerns head-on and overcome them by following the best practices outlined in our ebook, along with those detailed below. You can find even more information about bots in our ebook, The Bot Balancing Act.
How can I use chatbots effectively?
To effectively use chatbots for support, brands should balance business efficiency with customer experience. As we write in our ebook, “In chatbot use cases, the bot interacts directly with the customer. The bot may only engage for part of the conversation — for example, with a welcome message and/or expected wait time for an answer — or the bot may handle the entire conversation. The latter scenario is often referred to as a bot contained conversation.” Other chatbot support use-cases that also involve customer care agents include welcome messages, simple process automation, and simple problem resolution.
Two examples of effective chatbot support:
Chatbots Magazine details an example of how chatbots could theoretically help customers place orders online — in this case, with Nordstrom. Rather than searching on the website for a pair of shoes and then placing an order, customers would instead go to Nordstrom’s Facebook page and send a message to the brand describing the pair of shoes they’re looking for and a chatbot would mirror “the type of experience you would get when you go into the retail store.” In this case, the chatbot functions like a personal (digital) shopper.
In our ebook we write about a real-world example of chatbot customer service from a top-tier telecom provider. The provider, “decided to offer messaging in its mobile app (via Khoros Brand Messenger) to enhance customer experience. But, they knew inbound volume would surge as a result.” To manage, the provider started small: they initially limited in-app messaging to a select set of customers, rather than opening it up to their entire customer base. The chatbot greeted customers with a welcome message. The chatbot was powered by machine learning and was connected to the provider’s existing support community, from which it could find answers. As customers engaged with the chatbot, it learned quickly: In just 30 days the chatbot was handling one-third of inbound service requests, all without the aid of a live agent.
Which chatbot support best practices should I know?
Wherever your brand is on its chatbot customer service journey, the following best practices, adapted from our ebook and G2, can guide your efforts and ensure you’re offering the best possible customer experience:
- Use human support when needed. Chatbots aren’t fool-proof, and often a real person will need to step in to assist customers.
- Be upfront with your customers when they’re talking to a bot. Make sure customers know when they’re chatting with a bot and when they’re chatting with a person. You can simply name the bot and the person, or you can mark communications from both with clear icons (a robot for the bot, for example).
- Keep communications from the bot concise and short. Two to three sentences are preferred for most situations as quick, efficient communications are one of the main benefits of chatbots.
- Prioritize in-channel resolution. This will ensure a better customer experience.
- Gather subject matter experts from different teams within your organization.
- Plan beyond your current bot. Simply put, things change, especially with AI technology. Choose a framework that evolves.
Are there other ways to use bots for customer support?
Bots (or AI) can be used to improve the customer experience in other ways beyond direct chat. They can also be used as triage: they can help agents behind the scenes in resolving issues quickly, leaving agents free to engage in higher-level customer interactions.
Another valuable non-chat use for bots, as we write in our ebook, is gaining insights. More specifically, bots can help “filter out the signal from the noise with inbound posts, isolating and presenting to agents only those posts most likely to require agent action.” Khoros Care can assist your brand in processing large amounts of data and can offer your brand valuable insights about patterns over time.
Download our ebook to learn more proven ways to use bots for customer support.