Conversational Marketing powered by chatbots have multiple benefits that can improve your company's sales and marketing efficiencies across the board. But another area that it excels at helping with is improving your customer service experience by increasing response times and reducing friction.
This is done through automating the delivery of answers to frequently asked questions, serving up helpful, contextual content (e.g. documents, white papers, specs, How-To's, etc), adapting to user behaviors and qualifying support cases before routing the conversation to the right specialists.
Customer support is an area that is improving and growing with technology over time and is as valuable to your bottom line as ever.
- Increasing customer retention rates by 5% and increases profits anywhere from 25% to 95%. Bain & Company
- U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, up from 14% in 2014. American Express 2017
- Customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020. Walker
- When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price. Gartner
At the end of the day, everybody knows that improving customer retention and retaining existing clients is much more profitable than acquiring new customers. The question is, what new tools can we use to make it better?
Automating Frequently-Asked Questions
"Top reason for customer loss: The failure to solve a problem in a timely manner." - Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive/RightNow, 2010
Having a Chatbot on your website that is preloaded to identify and suggest answers or solutions to your top frequently asked questions provides instant problem solving. They can be programmed to target specific keywords or even suggest a list of categories or responses to the customer to help direct them to the solution right away. These chatbots are also live on your website, 24/7, which provides a front-line, global customer service solution to your customers at the outset of their experience.
One might try to argue that websites are already filling this role, but have you seen websites lately?
Despite our best efforts for improved UX, simple design, flat design, mobile-first design, responsive design... (stop me anytime), the plain fact is users still have to scroll through endless pages and navigate menus just to find a simple answer. That's not a great customer support experience.
Chatbots are page-agnostic.
While you can embed chatbots on pages where customer support is common, various different support "playbooks" can be activated contextually based on user behavior, too. You could realistically have several different automated experiences ready to go on your backend to fire contextually based on what the user does or asks, at any time, on any page of your website, regardless of that page's content. They can even be divided up by language and provide multi-lingual support (assuming you have a translator on staff to write it).
Does that sound like an upgraded customer experience?
But what if the customers question is more nuanced than a simple question and answer? That's where leveraging your knowledge base in Conversational Marketing comes in to help...
Automating Your Knowledge Base
Out of all self-service channels, customers most frequently use knowledge bases. Forrester
Any company focused on quality customer service is constantly developing content for their customers to help answer more complex problems and reduce friction. You may have simple product one-sheets and articles to case studies, how-to videos and infographics. Rather than breaking that out into multiple webs pages or mediums that your customer has to manually search through, you could program it all into your chatbot so that a customer can simply ask the question and get a more contextual result which leverages all of those great assets you've created.
But how is that different than just having a generic site search on your website?
The initial answer is that the experience is more contextualized and personalized than a generic search. A chatbot can use information in its database to address the customer by their name, company, specialization, location, etc. It can also ask for feedback on the advice that it's offering to evaluate how the content is working for the use case. That means you can do a better job offering up answers to their questions because you're leveraging more data in real-time.
In addition, conversational marketing chatbots are more multi-faceted than a generic search, meaning that it can pivot at any point to other skills when simply locating content or answers is not sufficient for the user. For example, can a generic search handle any of the following?
- The user wants to talk to a human
- The user mentions one of your support staff by name
- The user changes topics or focus unexpectedly, mid-conversation
- The user engages negatively
- The user is a returning visitor who has already seen the initial results
All of these use-cases can be programmed and planned for to provide more meaningful and empathetic responses when you're truly facilitating a conversation marketing framework. The bot can acknowledge the change and pivot, offering different suggestions, content or even routing to one of your customer service reps. This is where automating Customer Support case qualification comes in...
Automating Support Case Qualification
For more complicated interactions, such as payment disputes, 40% of customers prefer talking to a real person over the phone. - American Express
Despite all our technological advances, it's worth mentioning that at some point people still want to talk to another human. It's a good reminder that while these advances are exciting, none of these solutions is ever meant to completely eliminate the need for human-to-human communication. It's meant to eliminate the wasted human-to-human interactions where the request for information was a simple, repeatable one that didn't need a phone call or live chat to be resolved.
Conversational Marketing truly shines when it is aligned strategically with human-to-human customer service support and knowing where to hand that off.
30% of consumers say not being able to reach a real human is the most frustrating part of a bad customer service experience. - Microsoft
Most companies still need to be able to offer some human connection for a complete customer service experience. Chatbots can be your front-line qualifiers to ensure that easy-to-solve support cases are resolved quickly and without taking up the precious time of your team on staff. It reduces friction for the user, makes your team more efficient and improves your bottom line by reducing waste in your utilization rates. But when the use case rises to the level of needing a more human touch, the chatbot can offer two immediate skills to get them connected:
The first is route them directly to a live representative via a live chat. Conversation marketing Software has sevearl resources like desktop notifications, email notifications, mobile app notifications, etc, to get the attention of your rep in real-time and allow them to jump in to take over for the bot.
Live chat is a great resource for customer service, but what happens if the request is after-hours or a rep is not available? That's where meeting automation comes in to save the day.
The chatbot can be programmed to jump back in if a live chat rep does not take over within 30 seconds of trying to route and notify the rep. It will offer up available times on the reps calendar to book a meeting at the customer's convenience automate the scheduling and follow-up to confirm the appointment.
Is Conversational Support Really Going To Resonate With My Customers?
Now that you've seen three core areas where these bots can make an impact in upgrading your customer support experience, let's get to the obvious question. Will it work? Let's start to answer this by doing an audit of our everyday life...
Look around you right now.
Real-time messaging has fast become the most popular way to communicate, period. We chat with our friends, spouses, siblings, on dating apps, and the rest of our personal network through a variety of messaging platforms. Why? Because it’s so easy to get in touch. Ask yourself, how often do you kids, friends or even your parents opt to text you before making a call? I can certainly attest to this in my own circle.
Ok, so that's our personal lives, but business is a different animal, right? Maybe not...
It turns out most people want to use messaging to communicate with businesses in real-time as well. In a recent Twilio survey, 89% of consumers said they want the option to talk to businesses through more conversational tools like messaging solutions. Furthermore, a lot of big companies are both projecting and acting on this trend in all their customer service experiences right now.
So I could leave you with a snarky zinger like, "don't say I didn't warn you," or "what's your excuse?" But instead, I'll just let the data speak for itself...
It’s estimated that by 2020, 85% of customer service interactions will be automated. - Ameyo
Over 60% of US consumers prefer an automated self-service, such as a website or mobile app, for simple customer service tasks. - American Express
30% of US consumers rate chatbot interactions as “very effective” in dealing with customer service issues. - Microsoft
Millennials prefer chat support channels over others. Comm100
86% of B2B executives prefer using self-service tools for reordering, over talking to a sales representative. McKinsey