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PHOTO: Kaleidico

Customer service is becoming increasingly complex and customer engagement methods are constantly changing. Products and services are also becoming more complicated due to the impact of technology. Add to this the growing number of possible communication channels, with customers now able to start a service chat or ask their voice assistant a question, regardless of the time and place.

All of these shifts are creating great challenges for companies and can potentially lead to frustration for customers. Customers today are put off if they have to wait too long for a response, are asked for the same information several times or are unable to find the answers they need.

Businesses are increasingly turning to chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) to address these issues. Automation in both the front and back-office environments can help contact centers increase efficiency, provide enhanced customer experience and lower costs. Process automation reduces customer wait times and eases the burden on customer service representatives. 

Technology will not replace the need for the human touch, but a hybrid model where agents and bots work together is gaining traction to handle customer requests.

While modern technologies can provide faster, better customer service, companies must carefully plan for the introduction of chatbots and AI if they want to succeed. If you're looking to improve customer experience through new technologies and channels consider the following three points when evaluating the potential for new solutions.

Related Article: Combine Chatbots and RPA for Better Customer Service

1. Focus on the Benefits

While chatbots and AI are a hot topic, implementing technology to chase trends is not the answer. Ask yourself why should you introduce a new technology or channel? Clearly outline the benefits for your customers and your company. When evaluating new technologies, consider how it will impact your customer engagement strategy:

  • Predicting problems: Determine if chatbots and AI can help you better anticipate customer problems and identify customer dissatisfaction.
  • Helping your workforce: Customer service representatives are dealing with a higher volume of complex interactions. Can chatbots help ease their workloads by quickly handling simpler tasks?
  • Connecting with customers: Customers are increasingly seeking to shop with brands that offer a more personalized experience. Can adopting new technology help you deliver information that is more tailored to each individual customer?

Be sure the payoff is clear and viable before investing in technology that will transform your customer service processes and change workflows.

Related Article: Don't Let Chatbots Drag Down Your Customer Experience

2. Make Sure Your Chatbot Addresses the Right Problems 

Concrete use cases are extremely important, as digitization is not always the best solution for a problem. You can only automate your processes when you know and understand the different requirements for each channel. Clarify the points of the customer journey where an automated dialog with your customers is necessary and appropriate — and those steps where it isn't. 

Every industry demands its own individual solution. The reasons for customer service inquiries are often industry-specific, and different sectors will likely have markedly different back-end environments. The last thing that customers want is to interact with a poorly designed chatbot that has no connection to your brand’s other touchpoints.

Related Article: What Makes a Chatbot Tick?

3. Keep the End User in Mind

Ultimately, chatbot technology must perform well to improve customer experience, and the better it can meet customer demands, the more it will be leveraged. User acceptance ultimately depends on the way bots respond. Chatbots must be trained and supervised, as they depend on answers from AI developers. Therefore, it is critical to understand the end customers’ perspective as precisely as possible and analyze customer inquiries to identify relevant themes.

Chatbots will not replace humans, so make sure a human counterpart is available who can automatically take over more complex problems. The transition from chatbot to human-human communication greatly impacts the quality of the customer experience. Try to make the hand-off as seamless as possible to not interrupt the flow of the dialog. Regularly check the work of any AI-based tool to correct errors and ensure optimization takes place.

The growth of voice assistants and connected devices will only expand the customer engagement landscape. As technology continues to transform society, more and more companies will look to modernize their customer service channels. By focusing on how automation can benefit your business, determining the right applications and building user-friendly solutions, chatbots and AI can improve your customer experience.