People often confuse chatbots with AI (artificial intelligence), however, the two are very different. The goal of AI is to create computers capable of exhibiting more human-like behavior and decision making skills. A chatbot, on the other hand, is an automated software system that performs simple tasks for businesses and agents alike. They only respond to inputs in a predetermined way and are unable to invent new responses to new inputs on their own.

For companies that communicate directly with their customers, replacing live customer service with chatbots capable of handling simple conversations allows agents to focus on other tasks. It also lets a company provide excellent customer service with less manpower.


Chatbots and AI Work Hand-in-hand

Chatbots can use AI to help them reach their goal of providing a human-like text or chat conversation. Bots provide tier-1 customer service by processing information sent to them by humans seeking assistance and use that information to choose an appropriate response using algorithms.

One of the goals in using and developing chatbots is to eliminate the need for human customer service agents to solve and respond to simple customer inquiries in virtually any business setting. This enables customer service agents to reallocate their time to handling more complicated conversations with customers. Both AI and chatbots are limited by the information provided by programmers and developers and cannot act or react autonomously making them completely reliant on humans to do their job effectively.

Conversational interfaces like online chat and text require on-demand support for around-the-clock customer service. When consumers experience a brands' use of this technology, they come to expect this level of customer service with every brand. Innovations within the realm of AI and chatbots make it possible and can bring an average cost savings of $0.50-$0.70 per interaction.

Data Source: Salesforce

Chatbots and AI work together beautifully to enhance the speed of customer inquiries and elevate the overall customer experience. They have created 24/7/365 access to online assistance and also help human customer service agents do their jobs faster and with better accuracy. There's no doubt that this should be considered while creating your CX channel strategy.


AI and Chatbot Technology Support Customer Service Agents

Integrating AI messaging in cooperation with live customer service agents upgrades the experience for consumers. They are empowered to get answers to their questions faster, and customer service agents are available in situations requiring human interaction. For example, a problem may require extra research that a chatbot isn't equipped to complete. One agent can handle a larger volume of customers when they have chatbot and AI support, increasing their overall productivity.

However, chatbots and AI aren't just for real-time customer service conversations. The technology also helps companies wade through email inquiries. Categorizing and responding appropriately to massive numbers of emails each day is a time-consuming task for customer-focused companies. AI-powered technology can scan and tag emails, directing them to the most appropriate person. It can even suggest possible responses by using information from past email interactions.

By reducing average handling time of customers' email communications, companies can better manage spikes in customer requests for assistance and information. Companies using chatbots reserve human interaction for more complex problems that require hands-on intervention.

With the support of AI, the entire system becomes smarter over time, further reducing the need for human help with customer issues and complaints.


How Various Industries Use Chatbots and AI

A recent article by The Digital Marketing Institute discusses how chatbots enter the mainstream. They indicate that 80% of businesses are interested in adding chatbots by 2020.

In addition to using chatbots to support customer interaction in live chat, SMS, apps, and email, many businesses now want to explore the use of chatbots in sales departments and for marketing purposes. Businesses currently leveraging bots include 1-800-Flowers, HP, and CNN. They use bots in messaging platforms and in collaboration channels. Airbnb is also taking their customer experience to the next level by utilizing chatbots to help guests find reservations.

Consumers are on board with using chatbots to get better service, as well. In a survey conducted earlier this year by Drift, Salesforce, and myclever, 33% of people said they would be happy to use a chatbot to make a reservation. 29% said they would pay a bill with a chatbot, and 22% indicated their willingness to add themselves to a mailing list with a chatbot's help.


Starting The AI and Chatbot Journey

Companies that want to use chatbots to reduce costs and improve the overall customer experience must understand the most common situations their customer service team faces each day. Furthermore, sales and marketing teams can also provide valuable insight to strategize and guide the addition of a chatbot. They can speak to the problems experienced by customers that prevent conversions and sales and identify why customers reach out to the company on various social media channels.

This information should inform the creation and programming of a chatbot. Finding the best possible responses to customer questions on the map of the customer's journey is crucial. To get the most out of chatbot and AI technology, the software must have access to relevant and accurate information about typical customer interactions.

For example, Whole Foods Market has employed a chatbot that allows users to search a database of recipes. It walks customers through how best to use the interface. The platform is useful and versatile because it enables customers to use food emojis in place of text making the experience familiar and modern.

While complete customer service automation isn't feasible, businesses can use these new technologies to provide customers with the on-demand interaction they've come to expect while supporting customer service agents in real-time interactions. Companies have the ability to cut costs while upgrading customer interaction at every level when they use chatbots to support their customer service teams. If you have any questions about integrating a chatbot into your CX channel strategy, feel free to reach out to me.

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November 01, 2018