Just last week, we spoke about the dos and don’ts of chatbot conversations. Today, in this post, I will share a few tried-and-tested tips for providing a great chatbot experience for your customers.
Much like every other aspect of virtually running a business, technology has drastically changed customer service. It wasn’t long ago that customers looking for help and answers from companies only had two options: Visit a brick-and-mortar store location and head to the service desk or call a customer service phone number and prepare to wait on hold.
That’s certainly not the case anymore.
In addition to these options, customers can also contact companies via email, social media channels, and even live chat tools. Today, these options are still growing and improving, and automation drives many of these improvements.
That includes chatbots.
If you’re unfamiliar with bots, they interact with customers through a chat interface. They are automated by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence. And they present a ton of potential for businesses looking to make their customer service more efficient.
Why Use Chatbots?
Live chat is now widely considered a staple customer service channel. Like email or phone support, it’s becoming increasingly common. It’s now a popular option among customers seeking help. That’s because the shift to live chat reflects consumers’ communication preferences as a whole.
In fact, in 2015, the number of daily active users on messaging apps exceeded that of social apps. This means that the average internet user was more likely to contact friends and family through a dedicated messaging app than through a social platform. And that hasn’t changed since. It makes sense, then, that 54% of consumers say that they prefer interacting with providers through messaging apps over email.
So although social media platforms and email can still be valuable channels for customer service, live chat platforms are more in line with how most consumers prefer to communicate. This is likely due in part to the fact that live chat support tends to be faster than waiting for a response through social media or email.
In fact, 60% of consumers say that they hate waiting more than a minute for support. Delivering this kind of speed is nearly impossible using more traditional channels.
And while it’s possible to offer service in under a minute with a great support time, it certainly isn’t easy. That’s where chatbots come into play.
Artificial intelligence is beginning to redefine customer service, and these automated service providers are one of the clearest examples of this. They make it possible to offer fast response times to straightforward inquiries so that your team can focus their efforts on more complex issues and customer needs. And if you’re worried about eliminating the chance for each customer to interact with a human agent, don’t be.
One survey found that 44% of customers actually prefer interacting with chatbots over speaking with real people for customer support. This means that incorporating chatbots into your strategy gives you the chance to more closely align with your customers’ preferences while simultaneously making the jobs of your own team easier.
4 Tips for Creating Great Chatbot Customer Experiences
Whether you’re new to the concept of chatbots or looking for ways to improve your existing usage, the following four tips will help you make the most of their potential and create excellent experiences for each of your customers.
1. Integrate Your Chatbot with Your Ecommerce Platform
The features you add to your chatbot largely depend on your industry and business model. And if you’re running an ecommerce business, one of the best steps you can take is integrating inventory information and checkout functionality. With this information, your chatbots can essentially replicate the experience of speaking with an in-store associate — but with much faster service.
For example, the online retailer Everlane uses chatbots to send automated order confirmations and shipping information.
This may not seem impressive. After all, many businesses use email to deliver similar content to shoppers. But what is impressive is that users can respond directly to these messages to ask for help and information. They can even ask for help placing additional orders. In addition to being a source of automated messages, your chatbots can also serve as an extension of your company’s store.
While many of your customers may not be willing to make purchases before visiting your site for more information, these bots can easily answer simple questions like whether the products they want are in stock and how long it would take to have them shipped. And if they’re satisfied with the answers they receive, their chatbot interaction may be the deciding factor in a purchase.
2. Give Your Customers Options
Most internet-savvy consumers are now well-aware of the existence and purpose of chatbots. Still, some of them may be skeptical of the limitations of these bots and unsure of the information they’re capable of providing. You can make sure that this doesn’t prevent them from utilizing your chatbot by providing a few pre-set options or suggestions.
For example, you can see in the following screenshot that this particular chatbot lets users check the status of an order, chat with a product specialist, or place a new order.
If the visitor was hoping to accomplish any of these three tasks, it’s immediately clear that the bot can help them do so. As you develop your chatbot’s default greetings, determine what the most important tasks are that it can assist with. Then, incorporate those tasks directly into the opening text so that you don’t have to worry about your visitors missing out on key functionality.
3. Direct Users to Relevant Resources
No matter your industry or business model, many visitors arrive on your site because they’re looking for information. And whether they want details on a specific product, instructions for a feature in your software, or an answer to a billing question, there’s a strong chance that information is already available on your site.
It’s essential, then, to make sure that your chatbot has access to this information and can direct your visitors to it accordingly. Though your customer service team may be very familiar with your business, they likely haven’t memorized the exact URLs of key informational pages.
That means that this is one task your chatbots can likely perform even better than a human agent — and it’s in your best interest to make the most of that potential. So if you already have a self-service knowledge base or other informational content on your site, it’s worth your time (or your developer’s time) to integrate it into your chatbot’s functionality.
This way, you can make self-service customer support an easy, user-friendly option for your customers and quickly direct them to the resources that fit best for their needs.
4. Keep Your Team Accessible
Finally, it’s important to remember that a chatbot can’t fully resolve all issues. As advanced as your automated responses and AI learning software may be, there’s simply no replacement for human interaction. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that your team is still accessible for users who need them. Continue utilizing chatbots, don’t make it impossible for customers to talk to a human.
And beyond offering other channels like email and phone support, you can build your bots to recognize whether a customer is looking for a transactional response or an emotional one.
If a user expresses a straightforward need like canceling a service or initiating a return, a bot can easily handle these tasks with a transactional response. But if they’re upset over a problem or want to speak with a representative, your bot simply isn’t enough to deliver the emotional response and conversation they need.
Enabling your bot to recognize the difference between these two types of interactions can prevent it from further frustrating a customer and making a situation even worse. Better yet, it will give your team the ability to step in when they’re needed.
Although chatbots are still a relatively new addition to the world of customer service, they present a huge opportunity for businesses that are willing to invest in them. With well-designed bots, you can meet your audience’s communication preferences, address their needs more efficiently, and enable your support team to make the most of their time. And there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your chatbots meet these goals.
If you run an ecommerce store, for example, integrating inventory information can help your bots assist customers through the shopping process much like a store associate can in a retail setting. And regardless of your industry or business model, offering clear options at each stage of a user’s interaction with a bot can make it easier for customers to get the support they need.
Finally, it’s essential to know the limitations of your bot and determine when to direct them to a resource or a member of your team for additional help and information. This way, you can use your chatbots to streamline the entire service process and give each of your customers the support and assistance they need.