Emerging TechnologyThe benefits of effective chatbots on customer experience

The benefits of effective chatbots on customer experience

Customers and employees alike want information quickly, especially during a pandemic. We break down what goes into building an effective chatbot and the value they hold.

30-second summary:

  • Today’s modern day chatbots can help customers with simple questions while freeing humans up to handle larger tasks.
  • AI has enabled chatbots to predict human behavior in order to better understand and serve customers.
  • It can be easy to jump right into building a chatbot but it’s important to first understand the challenges you want the chatbot to resolve.
  • Design your chatbot once you’ve analyzed the conversations your customers are having, taking into consideration vocabulary and types of experiences they value.
  • Start by building a mobile-first design and then expand.

The pandemic has put a tremendous amount of pressure on companies to wind down operations quickly in order to abide by national safety standards and then ramp them up back up in order to start rebuilding the economy. Financial services companies, rental car companies even Airbnb have all felt the effects of halting business operations while having to process and facilitate large amounts of information with customers and employees. This has resulted in a greater reliance on chatbots to communicate information quickly and provide customers and employees with answers to their questions.

During the early stages of the pandemic, businesses saw large numbers of employees contacting HR with questions about insurance, office attendance, and more.

Companies may utilize chatbots to help respond to customer and employees questions more quickly.

Therefore, this leads to a large shift in the automation of relative tasks such as helping answer a question, providing an insurance quote or placing an order and freeing up humans to handle larger tasks.

These larger tasks could include changing insurance plans or making changes to that takeout order that a chatbot may not have the ability to do.

Understanding today’s chatbots

Chatbots are here to respond to initial customer inquiries and help respond to any general questions, leaving room for humans to handle the more complex questions. They also help reduce redundancy and create efficiency in the customer journey.

As technology evolves, chatbots are becoming more useful in many different ways. They are seen providing insurance quotes, filling orders, and even solving tech issues.

That’s not to say they’re replacing humans but rather serving as a “third helping hand” in the customer journey.

Thanks to AI, chatbots are getting smarter

It’s important to remember that chatbots are not humans, and their intention should never be to replace humans. Instead, they’re reading and understanding customers better in order to resemble a human and allow for a more thorough conversation.

For example, let’s say someone goes to book a doctor’s appointment, and they select a 2:00 pm time slot. A few weeks later, they decide to book another appointment. The chatbot remembers that they previously chose 2:00 pm last time.

The chatbot will then ask if they would like to book the same time slot because the chatbot has memorized this specific pattern and behavior of the user.

Chatbots have the ability to do this by using natural language processing. This allows chatbots to analyze human language and better predict their behaviors. Therefore, chatbots are able to respond to people better and more accurately.

Map out customer conversations first

Before you start building your chatbot it’s important to analyze the conversations your customers are having and understand the language and tone they use. This will ultimately help your chatbot better serve your customers and employees knowing they are aligning on their vocabulary.

In addition, make sure your team incorporates someone who is knowledgeable in user experience. In doing so, they will be able to advise on where you can provide the most value in the chatbot experience.

While having the right experience is important, you should also be watching how much time you build versus test your chatbot.

It is equally as important to build the architecture and ensure you’re gathering as much information about your target audience as possible. It’s recommended that you spend ⅔  of your time testing and ⅓ building.

If you’re building a web-based chatbot, it’s important to make use of Conversational UI — such as buttons, carousels, date-pickers etc — to help users provide the chatbot with relevant information and streamline the process.

Referring back to the appointment booking example, be sure to incorporate time slot buttons for the patient so that they are not required to “guess” when the provider is available on a certain day.

Mobile-first design, always

Incorporating modern web development into your chatbot is important for making sure your bot works on multiple platforms. Always think mobile-first before expanding.

If your chatbot can successfully assist your users via SMS, then it will be easy to make it work over the rest of the channels, including voice based conversations like Alexa.

In addition, this will make your chatbots more accessible, and as a result capable to cater to a much larger audience.

Living in a digitally forward time has resulted in customers and employees who want to be able to access information anytime anywhere. Making sure your chatbot is mobile-friendly will ensure that your audience can access the chatbot on their preferred device should that be a mobile device.

Provide a fall back

It can be difficult to make sure your chatbot covers all angles from day one, which could lead some conversations to a “dead end”. Companies can avoid this issue by providing an option for a person to take over the conversation when needed.

Additionally, companies should analyze conversation history on a regular basis, to look for conversations that might cause trouble, and update them to avoid the issues.

Use cases of effective chatbots

We’re seeing an increase of chatbots used to connect and communicate with both customers and employees, almost acting as a helping hand to assist companies in solving customer and employee problems.

Common use cases where a chatbot comes in handy are assisting a customer who inquires about making a bill payment, getting an insurance quote, placing an order for food delivery, and contacting a bank for credit card management.

While internally, chatbots can be used to handle HR enquiries or manage internal help desk requests.

What the future holds for chatbots

Although chatbots have grown in popularity and are using AI to become smarter and more efficient, there are many people who still prefer speaking with a human.

It’s important that you always incorporate a human element into your chabot experience, whether that be eventually connecting the customer or employee to the representative on the other side of the chatbot or asking if they would like to be connected to the representative directly.

When built correctly and thoroughly, chatbots are a great tool for a business who is looking to streamline their customer service processes and provide a more successful customer experience.

Sebastian Witalec is a Senior Developer Advocate for Progress who specializes in Angular and NativeChat. He loves working on both serious and fun projects and one day he will use his robot army to conquer the world. You can connect with Sebastian on Twitter at @sebawita.

Rob Lauer is Senior Manager of Developer Relations at Progress and has a passion for mobile app development and the open web. You can find Rob rambling as @RobLauer on Twitter.

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