How Chatbots Use Artificial Intelligence to Satisfy Customers Faster & Easier than Ever Before

Artificial intelligence used to only exist in science fiction films. That’s no longer the case. Today, brands are using it to improve efficiency and productivity in all areas of business.

In fact, 55% of established companies have either started making investments in artificial intelligence or are planning to do so by 2020. These investments can come in many forms, but one of the most effective is in using artificial intelligence to power chatbots.

Keep reading to learn how artificial intelligence is used to power chatbots, along with four ways that companies are already using the two together to satisfy their customers quickly and efficiently.

Artificial intelligence and Chatbots

Interacting with the earliest versions of chatbots could be a frustrating and time-consuming process. These bots were often only equipped to respond to very specific input and couldn’t process any information outside of those parameters. It was essentially the text equivalent of interacting with the “phone tree” menus customers are directed to after calling a customer service line.

As a result, communicating with a bot was far less appealing an option for most consumers than speaking with a human customer service agent. Talking to a real person typically led to faster, better solutions. Artificial intelligence has changed this.

AI-powered Natural Language Processing, or NLP, enables chatbots to mimic human conversation. They can identify the underlying intent behind the text a real person types, then deliver a response that matches that intent.

Plus, chatbots with NLP can now “learn” from past conversations and improve their ability to provide appropriate responses and solutions. And with this advanced level of processing, they’re becoming extremely helpful in customer service situations.

4 Ways Chatbots Use Artificial Intelligence to Assist Customers

Artificial intelligence is still in the early stages of adoption with most businesses. But these four examples illustrate how AI-powered chatbots help brands serve their customers and improve the entire support experience.

1. They Use Contextual Information

Chatbots that aren’t powered by artificial intelligence essentially deliver a one-size-fits-all experience to all of the users they assist. They begin with a generic greeting, offer a standard list of menu options, and are only equipped to resolve a pre-set list of issues and questions.

Artificial intelligence removes these limitations. As Ajeet Kushwaha, who leads ML/AI/Bots Strategy here at Freshworks, explains, “Bots engage with the visitors contextually by leveraging visitor journey from tools that show the visitor’s google search or organic, navigation path, landing pages and so on.”

Essentially, chatbots can tailor their conversations with users based on the content they access and read on your company’s site. If a user visits several pages focused on a specific service you offer, for example, the chatbot can infer that they’re primarily interested in that service. Then, it can begin the conversation with content that’s relevant to that service.

It can also make these inferences based on landing pages. So, for example, if a visitor lands on your site after reading an email highlighting a new feature, the chatbot could begin by asking if they have any questions or want to learn more about that specific feature.

This way, the conversation is relevant to each user’s interests right from the start. Instead of requiring visitors to click through standard menus of options, the chatbot can deliver messaging that’s likely to grab their attention and address their needs.  

With this approach, users are much more likely to engage with a chatbot — and to have the kinds of interactions that move them through the sales funnel.

2. They Prepare Your Agents for High-impact Conversations

A chatbot doesn’t have to hold an entire conversation with a customer from start to finish. It can handle the initial steps of greeting and engaging with a customer, then pass that customer along to a human support agent for further assistance.

Fortunately, AI-powered chatbots are well-suited to the task of collecting information at the beginning of an interaction. They can initiate conversation, then ask for the details a support agent would need to assist the user. These details might include the user’s account number, order number, payment details, and contact information.

This way, when a support agent steps in, they’ll already have the background information they need to assist the customer — and they won’t need to spend any additional time asking those basic questions.

By eliminating these simple question-and-answer interactions from their workload, agents can use their time much more efficiently. They can focus solely on tasks that are too complex for chatbots.

Plus, when agents are able to deliver faster resolutions, this reduces the wait time for other customers waiting to speak with them — further improving the customer experience. And while some chatbots wait until they’ve collected a certain amount of information to pass a user on to an agent, more advanced bots can even tell when it’s time to escalate a conversation.

As technology advisor Bernard Marr explains, “AI-powered chatbots, can raise an alert when they detect, for example, a customer becoming irate – thanks to sentiment analytics – prompting a human operator to take over the chat or call.”

With this ability, chatbots can go beyond basic data collection. They can make informed decisions as to when a user’s needs are beyond the scope of their programming, and direct that user to a human agent who can deliver the support they require.

3. They can Route Inquiries to the Appropriate People

Busy support teams can receive dozens of inquiries every day. And the first step in resolving these inquiries is getting them to the agent who’s best-suited to provide an answer or solution.

But for large support teams, routing each ticket to the right person can be challenging time-consuming. AI-powered chatbots can help.

When equipped with Natural Language Processing, a chatbot can determine the need behind a user’s request. It can “understand” what that user is looking for, and what information they’ll need before their inquiry can be resolved. Then, it can determine which of your support agents to assign to that ticket.

If a user’s inquiry is relatively simple, for example, the chatbot might opt to assign it to a newer member of your support team. If the inquiry is more complex and will require a subject matter expert, on the other hand, the bot would likely assign it to an agent with experience in that particular area.

Plus, if the bot has access to each agent’s list of tickets, it can also take workload into account, and route inquiries with the goal of distributing them evenly among your team.

This way, each customer will be directed to the person most qualified to resolve their issue — and to deliver that resolution in the least amount of time.

4. They can Offer Pre-emptive Support

As AI-powered chatbots learn from customer interactions, they can pick up patterns in user behavior. And as they “learn” from these patterns, they can begin to anticipate potential issues. With this information, they can proactively address those issues before they ever cause problems for a customer.

As the Forrester report, “2017 Customer Service Trends: Operations Become Smarter And More Strategic,” explains, artificial intelligence can help companies “anticipate needs by context, preferences, and prior queries and will deliver proactive alerts, relevant offers, or content.”

For example, if your chatbot picks up on the fact that customers tend to ask questions about a specific feature roughly two days into the onboarding process, it might begin conversations at that point in the customer journey with information about that feature.

This way, customers get the information they need before even having to ask. This ensures that they receive the assistance they need to move forward and don’t stop using your product simply because of a lack of information. In the long run, it can also help them get more value out of their experience with your company.

And as your chatbot becomes better at anticipating and proactively resolving issues, it can minimize the customer complaints your human support team receives, and boost customer satisfaction across the board.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence is still a relatively new addition to the business world. But it’s only going to continue to grow its presence. And while this technology has many potential uses for brands, AI-powered chatbots are one of the best ways to improve the customer experience.

When equipped with artificial intelligence, chatbots can use contextual information to deliver relevant messages and offer proactive service when they detect a potential problem.

They can also assist your human support team by preparing your agents for high-impact conversations and routing inquiries to the appropriate person. And this is just the beginning.

As brands find new ways to incorporate artificial intelligence into their daily operations, it’s certain to establish an increasingly large presence in the business world. But for now, chatbots are an excellent way to become an early adopter of this technology and start delivering better customer experiences than ever before.