Customer service is essential to every business. Good customer service can create loyal long-term customers, while poor service can just as easily push customers to a competitor.
To ensure strong customer service, you must address customer concerns in a timely and direct manner. Failure to do so will not only impact your bottom line, but your brand image as well.
Customer service has long relied on mediums such as phone and email, but those alone no longer meet your customers’ expectations. Instead, companies are moving ahead with live online chat solutions, which customers prefer to other options. While live chat has shortened wait times and improved time to resolution, it is not a perfect solution. As a result, companies are looking to chatbots to fill the void.
The Problem with Live Chat
Live chat is clearly more efficient and convenient than traditional customer service methods, but it too is hindered by the same issue: human capacity. Though live chat agents can handle more tickets than traditional methods, they have a limit on how many they can manage simultaneously. Chatbots have no such limit and have notable advantages that live chat agents simply cannot replicate:
Live Chat Agent
An angry customer is far more likely to share her negative experience than one who experienced the opposite. Knowing this, companies must address their customer service gaps before it costs them.
The Promise of Chatbots
Chatbots are the solution to the daunting customer service demands companies experience daily. When trained properly, chatbots can resolve 80% of all customer queries without human intervention. If a query is out of the chatbot’s scope, it can simply move the customer along to a live customer service representative. This level of immediacy is unparalleled by other methods and is a key value driver of chatbots.
Chatbots can also customize experiences to customers in real-time. Based on a customer’s inquiry and existing customer data, chatbots can deliver personalized recommendations that go beyond the standard response.
Best of all, chatbots put an end to the days of waiting in long queues for a live agent to answer a simple question. Instead, chabots answer most inquiries in a matter of seconds, providing answers to queries faster than live agents ever could.
Where Chatbots Err
Chatbots bring a lot of value to the table, as companies such as Whole Foods and Nike can attest to, having successfully integrated chatbots into their shopping experience. However, many others have experienced negative effects from chatbots, such as Microsoft’s Xiao Bing.
Soon after the Xiao Bing bot was made available for interaction in China, it expressed that its “China dream is to go to America,” as well as other racially insensitive responses. These errors are the result of biased or flawed data in undertrained bots and algorithms. With proper training and testing, chatbots can avoid these issues and turn into a powerful asset to organizations.
Training and Testing Makes Perfect
For chatbots to be effective, they must first be trained — and trained on a continual basis. Once trained, chatbots can learn, think, act and respond just like a live agent. This takes copious amounts of data inputs covering large volumes of potential scenarios. Without enough data, the chatbot will not effectively handle customer inquiries.
The most common reason for chatbot failure is data quality issues. Any bias within the data sets used to train the chatbot pose a risk to its functionality. As a first step, collect data from a broad set of sources. A varied source of data can ensure your chatbot isn’t biased towards specific locations, genders, religions or any other demographics.
The next step is to validate that the chatbot is free of bias. Conduct rigorous testing to check for any biases that may have found their way into the data set. Testing the outputs is critical to ensuring the chatbot is functioning properly and rid of any bias. Once you validate and remove bias, you can start your new customer service journey.
As customers prioritize timely and convenient customer service, trimming down wait times and queue size is critical. Chatbots not only reduce both, but can eliminate them altogether. Happy customers lead to higher customer retention rates — and a properly functioning chatbot is a step towards satisfying today’s customers.