Over shoulder shot of young woman on sofa getting help from a chatbot support agent

Contact centers have increasingly been relying on chatbots to help answer the flood of queries coming in from a growing number of sources, including email, social media and text.

Rather than simply handling queries by following the strategies below, companies can leverage the capabilities of the automation to improve their customers' experience.

1. Provide Product Education and Selection

Effective chatbots provide enhanced CX by guiding consumers through the product (or support) options by serving up the right content and options based on their selection criteria, said DJ Haskins, vice president of markets at SilverCloud. “They take complicated decision trees and pare them down to easy-to-understand and easy-to-navigate options based on their specific criteria.”

2. Deliver Contextual Support to Lower Abandonment Rates

“Once consumers have found what they are looking for, chatbots provide the contextual support that will lower abandonment rates to drive more submissions,” Haskins said.

“For instance, the loan application process might require complicated inputs that the average consumer might not understand. Contextual support can offer up easy to find and follow instructions that enable the consumer to complete complicated processes.”

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3. Answer the Most Repetitive Customer Questions

“Multiple studies have shown that customer service resolution time is one of the top-ranking factors for customer experience,” said Dylan Max, head of growth at Netomi. “When a chatbot is programmed to answer certain questions, the time it takes to respond to customers is measured in seconds, not hours or days. There will always be high priority items that you want a real person to handle. Deploying a chatbot to handle these non-sensitive support tickets can greatly free up human agents' time to respond more quickly to those high priority customer cases.”

Efficiency should take priority when it comes to implementing chatbots in your customer experience. The Pareto Principle states that roughly 80% of gains come from 20% of the efforts, Max added. In the case of chatbots, we must ask ourselves what small items can businesses automate to get the most out of the squeeze?

4. Increase Accuracy, Compliance

In industries like healthcare and financial services, compliance and accuracy are essential. Chatbots, programmed correctly don’t succumb to human error, according to Customer Contact Center Week (CCW) in its report, Opportunities for CX Automation. Chatbot delivery of standards, policy and similar information ensures that the language meets compliance standards. When a regulation changes, the user simply needs to update the chatbot once, rather than retraining numerous human agents.

“Given the changes in workflow stemming from [the] coronavirus, this benefit is particularly relevant in today’s climate,” the report said.

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5. Maintain Customer Relationship Through Asynchronous Outreach

Chatbots can be programmed to automatically reach out to customers in specific situations or at specific intervals, the CCW report said.

If a help ticket is taking longer than expected to arrive, the chatbot can update the customer automatically. Additionally, if it’s been a while since a customer has communicated with an organization, the chatbot can reach out to the customer to remind him or her to book an appointment, redeem a digital coupon or with some other type of promotion to nudge the customer to re-engage with the brand.

6. Improve the Employee Experience to Improve CX

Employee-facing chatbots provide knowledge articles as needed, enabling agents to provide customers with the right answers on the calls that chatbots can’t handle automatically, the CCW report said. Similarly, the employee-facing chatbot can automatically log employees into any necessary applications, rather than requiring the employee to log in multiple times.

7. Answer In-Depth Queries

To make chatbots more effective, they will need to assist customers with more complex problems, not just the most simple ones, said Tim Breslin, chief technology officer at O3 World. To do so, chatbots need to be connected to well-formed data (customer data, inventory data, logistics data, product descriptions, etc.). “Generalized artificial intelligence (AI) is a huge challenge with making chatbots more effective,” Breslin added. “Despite the technologies’ rise and success, no one really believes that Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant can do much beyond give answers to very specific questions and/or turn on the lights. This perception sometimes encourages customers to ignore or bypass the chatbot. However, chatbots on websites and within applications can be very focused on specific tasks or industries.”

Retail currently leads the pack in this effort, according to Breslin, though he expects other industries like finance and healthcare to make big strides over the next year. This focus enables chatbots to give more relevant and useful advice, answers and recommendations.