Businessman interacting with a chatbot, rendering on a wall
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Chatbots have become standard tools in digital workplaces globally. Driven by consumer demand for connected customer experiences, Gartner predicted in research last year that 25 percent of customer service operations will use virtual customer assistant or chatbot technology by the year 2020.

Chatbots For CX

However, research released his week by MuleSoft, which provides a platform for building application networks, entitled Consumer Connectivity Insights 2018 (registration required), shows that there is still considerable work to be done in the deployment and use of chatbots. The research, which is based off data from a survey of more than 8,000 consumers demonstrated that customer loyalty is at risk for organizations unable to provide seamless experiences across all channels and timely access to information. It also pointed to problems with chatbots. Among the findings are:

  • 43 percent of global consumers have engaged with a chatbot when contacting an organization over the last 12 months, only 38 percent of those who had used chatbots said their query had been completely resolved/answered.
  • 19 percent said that the chatbot was unable to resolve or answer their query as it didn’t have access to the necessary information or systems.
  • 26 percent were asked to call a customer service representative directly, and 14 percent said they were directed to a web form.
  • 79 percent of global consumers think it will be beneficial for chatbots to become more intelligent through being connected to more systems and data.

Related Article: Top 14 Chatbot Building Platforms of 2017

Chatbots In Organizations

So how are organizations using chatbots? Anand Janefalkar is founder and CEO of San Francisco-based UJET, which builds a real-time communications platform. He points out that as AI begins to transform organizations brands must keep customers at the center of their decision to implement the technology. Organizations must also ask themselves if AI makes sense for their business, particularly in relation to the complexity and urgency of the customers’ needs. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to support.

“As support issues increase in severity, so too does the need for a human agent to step in to remediate the problem. Customer support is one of the most intimate brand experiences and should not be taken lightly. AI still has much room to mature today, but by finding the right balance between AI and human agents, businesses can ensure that every customer interaction is positive,” he said.

Related Article: 8 Ways to Measure Chatbot Program Success

Use Cases

Portland, Ore.-based Conversa Health uses AI and automation to help patients manage chronic illnesses and recovery via a chatbot. Data is extracted from these conversations (rate your pain or any side effects?, for example), the info is relayed it to the clinician's board immediately, making it easier to track and classify discharged patients.

Salt Lake City-based EveryoneSocial, which builds software for employee advocacy and social selling programs has also developed a Chatbot to help it improve its customer experience offerings. Todd Kunsman, the head of marketing explains that they use its chatbot to, booking more qualified demos, put company content and resources in the bot pending people’s interests and support for current customers that have questions.

We use it as it is more interactive, personalized, and gives people something to be engaged with. "The bot helped our leads increase by 20 percent in the first month of implementation,” he said. “Right now, I see it as highly efficient, but as others join the bandwagon, results may level off for companies. But right now, any B2B company and especially software companies should be considering a chatbot for growth.

New York and Canada-licensed business immigration lawyer Marc-Andre Seguin of Montreal-based Exeo Attorneys said that they have been using a chatbot to filter leads and potential clients. “We get many requests for information about immigration law from people who aren’t always ready to pay for a proper consultation and did not want to leave these many people behind. Besides, our staff simply could not accommodate the volume of requests sent our way,” he said.  “Our answer to this was IVA, a free Immigration Virtual Assistant that could simulate the first 15 minutes of interaction with an immigration lawyer, right in Facebook Messenger.”

This enabled the company to respond to the volume they were getting, at no expense to the user, while still giving valuable and personalized information on immigration law.

Chatbot Advantages

There is a place for chatbots in every enterprise as their use brings a number of advantages that all organizations can benefit from. Shannon Menard outreach coordinator at Power Digital Marketing suggest four use cases that chatbots can be used in any enterprise. 

Deepened Audience Relationships

Messenger or chatbots connect with your audience personally through conversations. If you know your audience and their needs, messenger bots can provide your customers with relevant information and products on demand. While bots are usually trained with example questions initially, the more interactions a bot has, the more data it can use to improve future interactions. In a world where customer satisfaction can make or break a business, this tool can ensure your communication is always top notch.

Simplified Account Management

With messenger bots, users can manage their information instantly, saving them the time and hassle of trying to get in contact with a customer service representative. This includes updating billing info, changing email addresses, managing orders and updating any personal details.

Time Saving

When it comes to commonly asked questions or issues, messenger/chatbots are the perfect solution. If you think about it, most customer problems that arise usually fall under the same categories. With messenger/chatbots, you can program instant answers so that you don’t have to spend your time dealing with the same problems over and over again. Some basic use case scenarios include, getting quick answers, resolving a complaint, paying a bill or buying a basic item.

Money Saving

While it is still recommended that you have real-life customer service agents, investing in a messenger bot can help reduce the number you need. If you think about how much it would cost to pay multiple customer service representatives and compare it to the costs associated with a messenger or chatbot, it’s seems that a bot is the cheaper option! 

Customer Management

Humans can only handle so much at once. On the contrary, bots can facilitate thousands of conversations at once! This ensures that no customer question or problem ever goes unnoticed. For larger businesses, this is especially useful due to the immense number of queries they receive each day. Since messenger bots are programmed to respond a certain way, you can also rest assured that the number of errors made will be extremely low.

Chatbot Limitations

Craig Higdon is one of the top four global auditing companies or "Big 4" that include PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (E&Y), Deloitte, and KPMG). He has implemented a number of different chatbot projects for Fortune 100  companies in data-intensive, highly-regulated industries. He argues that chatbots can help enterprises but only if they have been set up correctly. “AI-powered chatbots will change the future of customer service but only if corporate IT leaders are strategic about dealing with its weaknesses,” he said.

For chatbots, and the businesses that use them, to be successful there are two crucial areas that need to be addressed, he noted.

  1. A chatbot is only as good as the data it has access too. If legacy systems don't have secure access to recent, normalized data then it's "garbage in, garbage out."
  2. Organizations need to keep in mind that chatbots can't solve everything. Most digital self-service channels can reduce the cost associated with responding to simple requests (getting a new ID card OR a change of address). However, once you start with a request that covers two issues simultaneously (getting a new ID card WITH a new address on it) the complexity of the issue increases exponentially.

“Business needs a strategy to slowly sunset the human portion of the workforce as the AI chatbot becomes more sophisticated. In the meantime, they need to create a seamless hand-off for when problem's complexity outstrips the ability of the chatbot,” he said.