How Chatbot Tech Takes Customer Service to the Next Level

Your customers don't want talk to you -- in fact, research shows 70% of online consumers prefer interacting with a chatbot for simple to moderate questions. While live representatives can provide a one-to-one, conversational level of customer service, this is not always the most effective option for most digital-first customers. Rather, today's connected consumers want a seamless online experience that immediately allows them to self-serve when they have a quick question or choose a hybrid approach when they need that personal touch from a live representative.

Chatbots empower consumers to take charge of their own brand experience and efficiently get the answers they need. Consumers demand accuracy and convenience, and chatbots provide the perfect balance of speed, personalization, and human touch necessary for improved customer experiences.

The Need for Speed

Today's consumers have limited patience for being put on hold, and often refuse to toggle to different webpages to find the information they need. They demand immediate answers and the ability to find them without diverting their journey. When a customer wants to know his account balance before paying rent, for example, he expects the choice to self-serve first, and in-line chatbots are the perfect tool for the job.

The key to implementing chatbots that go beyond scripted responses is Natural Language Processing (NLP). Chatbots equipped with this advanced technology can understand situational context and can therefore get to the root of customer questions without putting customers on hold or redirecting them.

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NLP technology drives chatbots to read between the lines and understand customer intent, providing an additional level of functionality and added convenience for the customer. For example, if someone needs to book a flight for a last-minute business trip, they can tell a chatbot, "I want to book a flight to LA tomorrow," and the bot will respond by asking their departure location and return date. Sophisticated chatbots don't just understand intent; they also recognize situational context to identify missing information and request the details needed to complete the interaction. Once the customer answers these questions, the bot has the necessary knowledge to suggest flights that fit the criteria. In the digital age, the ability to provide a frictionless and fast customer experience is what will truly set businesses apart.

Getting Personal

Today's customers are used to personalized online experiences that take into account past activity and personal information. NLP-driven chatbots can draw from a customer's profile and deliver personalized information that makes the experience that much more seamless.

For a customer who is wondering about the status of an online purchase, he or she can simply log into his or her account and ask a chatbot, "Where is my order?" Pulling information from the customer's most recent purchase, the NLP-driven chatbot can quickly offer up-to-date information. This combination of personalized service and quick, efficient answers perfectly fits the needs of today's digital consumers.

When It's Time for The Human Touch

While these intelligent assistants provide the fast, personalized support that customers crave, sometimes a query goes beyond a chatbot's expertise and a human touch is needed. When it comes to a hybrid experience that loops in a live agent, timing is everything. Chatbots can determine when a customer needs to speak with a representative, whether via live chat or over the phone. In these situations, the chatbot can refer to company policy, assistant availability, and required skill sets and direct the interaction accordingly to ensure the customer receives the help they need.

Take, for example, a customer looking at credit card options on his bank's website. While a chatbot can easily pull the qualifications for a cashback credit card and may even be able to tell that customer if they qualify based on past credit history, sometimes a customer will run into an issue with the actual application process that may not be common enough for the chatbot to have a prepared answer. This is where the personal touch of a human agent is needed. Customer service bots should be able to either loop in a live agent to the same user-interface or offer customers the option to reach a customer service agent by phone, providing that next level of efficiency in customer service interactions.

Furthermore, chatbots help brands improve their customer service strategy over time by collecting communications data from every interaction and extracting valuable insights. Leveraging data analytics, brands can unearth a goldmine buried within customer conversations, and use this information to improve future interactions.

For any digital platform, a seamless customer experience must provide convenience and personalization, allowing customers to effectively self-serve when they want to and speak with a live agent when they need to. Businesses can look to chatbots to help launch their customer service solutions into the future and continually improve their customer experience.