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Why Customer Service Bots Should Be Considered By Businesses of All Sizes

Steve Surdez

You might not know a lot about bots or use them on your organization’s website, but you’ve likely encountered them in your daily life.

More and more companies are deploying bots in an effort to provide 24x7 customer service that’s tailored to customer preferences and behavior habits. The reason: Digital natives expect constant availability, fast responses, and a user experience that understands them.

Today, the lights must be on at the store all the time; that’s the expectation and bots backed by artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling businesses to be available and helpful every day, all the time.

Think the rise of the machines is in some distant future? Think again. According to the State of Digital, a recent joint study by iProspect and Bing found that, “...Bots are having a profound impact on the way we do business...within the next two years, consumers will be managing 85% of their enterprise relationships without dealing with a human…”

The use of bots to provide customer service is on the rise but has not been widely adopted by small to midsize businesses. This is changing, however. A recent Gartner survey, according to Capterra, found that by 2019 nearly three times as many businesses will employ chatbots than did in 2017. While many still feel that customer service bots are the exclusive domain of big companies, many experts predict bot usage among SMBs and midsize businesses will increase exponentially over the next few years.

If you haven’t done your research on bots for customer service, it’s time to start exploring options so as to not get left behind.

This isn’t about letting all of your customer service people go and going full robot--instead, it’s about staying informed, preparing for the future and finding cost savings and efficiencies through better use of the human capital you currently employ.

Here’s why it’s important to consider customer service bots for your business, regardless of its size:

Customer Expectations Have Changed

Customers expect 24x7 responsiveness. They expect basic (and sometimes not so basic) problems to be solved quickly and in a way that’s convenient for them.

If that means engaging your Chatbot via a mobile device at 2:30 a.m. your time while traveling in a different time zone, so be it. The expectation is availability and alacrity; they want the problem solved and fast.

A recent customer service survey revealed that 72% of millennials believe that a phone call is not the best method to resolve an issue. It’s fairly clear what younger consumers want and this portends a different kind of customer service future.

Big Data Can Increase Personalization

When customers complain that they can’t reach a “human”, the underlying grievance is not really that they want human-to-human interaction. Rather, this complaint often stems from a failure to provide a solution in a timely manner; the customer gets put through an automated gauntlet that fails to solve their issue. When they finally reach their “human”, many consumers are already frustrated because the process took too long and the solution was ineffective.

Chatbots and customer service bots have access and can utilize customer Big Data faster than any human counterpart, providing faster, more personalized service in the process. That’s not to say having human customer service agents is a bad idea, it’s just that you might need to deploy your people differently and at new points in the customer service process.

The bottom line: Bots can provide more personalized customer service than a human counterpart because they have access and can utilize a consumer’s data trail to provide what they need, fast. Sometimes, bots can even preemptively address issues from behavior patterns evident in a customer’s online activity.

Reduced Labor Costs

Deploying customer service bots can eliminate the use of big call centers and can reduce the number of full time customer service staff while elevating performance and customer satisfaction.

Fewer human customer service agents supported by sophisticated, cost-effective bots can maintain strong performance while reducing your company’s overhead. Customer service bots help reduce costs in several ways, including:

  • Reducing incoming call volume
  • Reducing the number of interaction volume (fewer emails, calls, social media inquiries)
  • Reducing labor costs due to a leaner, more productive staff
  • Reduction in hiring and training costs for human staff

As per Comm100, “According to research by McKinsey, 29% of customer service positions in the US could be automated through Chatbots and other currently available technology. While a live chat agent can effectively chat with about three customers at once (and a phone representative can handle only one at a time), Chatbots can handle an unlimited amount of interactions simultaneously.”

Bots can handle a higher volume of inquiries armed with Big Data, increasing customer satisfaction, preventing customer service team burnout and improving customer service overall.

Better Use of Customer Service Staff

Deploying bots to augment a strong but lean customer service team is an effective approach. When using chatbots for customer service, your existing staff can focus on delivering solutions to more complex issues. Instead of having to be prepared for everything from simple inquiries to the most complex problems, your staff can focus its energies where they’re most valuable. What’s more, bots reduce overall volume, keeping your team fresh and productive. In some ways, bot use in customer service is similar to cloud deployment in IT--in both cases, teams can innovate as they are freed from “break and fix” mode by automated AI and bot assistance.

Tiered customer service where bots and your staff are used in a targeted, strategic fashion will increase customer satisfaction with your brand, leading to stronger relationships and an increase in customer lifetime value.

Fueling Growth

Cost reductions created by bot use can be reallocated for innovation and growth in other areas of the business. In addition, bots have a great capacity to both use Big Data and capture more data that can be used in marketing and lead generation efforts.

As bots capture more and more customer interactions, sales and marketing can analyze and capitalize on this treasure trove of information to win new customers. In a bot-less customer service environment, relying on overwhelmed agents in survival mode to capture useful marketing data is not a good bet.

According to ClickZ, “Chatbots...have the ability to not just answer questions, but to use data around the questions to move leads through the purchase funnel by creating scalable, personalized one-to-one recommendations.”

With the ability to interact with potentially thousands of customers at once capturing tons of valuable data, customer service bots have the potential not only to keep your customers happy but can also pave the way for new customer acquisition.

If you find yourself saying bots are only for big business, think again. While the timing might not yet be right for your organization, getting educated on bots and preparing to adopt this technology is imperative for businesses of all sizes. Ignore the power and potential of customer service bots at your own peril; the future is coming faster than you might think.

If you’d like to learn more about how bots and leveraging Big Data can help your business, reach out to us. We can help. We’d love to hear more about your business and its challenges.

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