When was the last time you dialled the helpline number of a brand and ended up waiting for more than 5 minutes in the telephonic queue? It would be a long time back. Gone are the days when you were forced to deal with customer representatives who were located far from your geographical location. On the other hand, even the automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system could not cater to all our needs effectively.
We are now living in an intelligent customer support ecosystem where AI-enabled chatbots are interacting with us smartly. Increased customer engagement through text rather than voice, and self-service has become the new norm.
First, let’s understand why the IVR and similar systems failed, and the salient features and benefits of chatbots when it comes to refining customer experiences for the better.
Limitations of Conventional IVR
The first reason is that the IVR failed to provide a seamless customer experience. This experience involves the flow of context, intent, and integration across all relevant channels.
Consider this, is there anything more annoying than being redirected from one division to another on a phone call only to hear the words “we were unable to access the required information, please restate your problem?” Well, you and I both know the answer already.
Secondly, the cost was a major concern. The cost of engaging call centres in customer support activities is very high. Frankly speaking, the cost per call for a chatbot is usually under one dollar whereas a CSR (customer support representative) will charge anywhere between $10 – $25 per call.
The third and last factor is time, which is indeed important for any business. Chat agents can typically handle 3-5 client interactions simultaneously during their working hours. But this is prone to unexpected time delays. Hiring a voice or chat agent on a 24/7 basis is not commercially practical.
Today, customer interaction and the goal of providing viable synchronous self-service capability is a 24-hour requirement. Thus, moving to a viable option like AI chatbot has become the need of the hour for every business.
Elevate customer experience without human intervention
Technologically, chatbots are digital personal assistants that can simulate human conversations via voice or text. They accomplish this feat through natural language interfaces, which enable the computer to understand the question and provide the best answer in real-time.
Chatbots have a multi-channel advantage and can combine context and integration across systems without human assistance. If Gartner’s predictions are true, nearly 85% of customer engagements will be done without human intervention in the future.
Additionally, chatbots are ‘blessed’ with self-learning abilities i.e., they learn and get better over time. They can anticipate and act on customer intent while improving the resolution time, and rarely need to be managed by a human for problem resolution and self-service functions. It takes note of shared dialogue and content as it moves from one conversation to the next. This makes it serve many customer support use-cases across diverse verticals such as:
- Retail – Search for favourite products and place their orders
- Health – patient care, provide appropriate remedies for less-critical disorders
- Retail Banking and finance – provide better self-service functions related to personal banking, credit cards, and home loan applications
- Utilities – add new services and products, report issues, faults, and problem resolution
- Insurance – choose the right coverage, manage claims, and provide product information
- Telco – contact the right division within the organization, add new services, and resolve minor problems quickly
Three Species of Chatbots
When it comes to providing the ultimate customer experience, chatbots are classified as follows:
- Informational Chatbots provide simple explanations and answers to customers. An example application of these systems is automated FAQs on websites.
- Personalized Chatbots are those that are integrated with backend systems and allow users to transact and get personalized responses. For example, using this type of chatbot, a customer can check his or her account balance or order history.
- Intelligent Chatbots are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enables them to learn from previous interactions and become steadily more accurate and responsive.
Rising Popularity of Chatbots
Chatbots have found their applications in almost every industry that we can think of. Let’s look at a real-life example that will support this fact.
Australian airline, JetStar, and their virtual assistant “Jess” have proven the effectiveness of chatbots in the past. When Bali’s Mt. Agung erupted at the end of 2017, Jess was able to assist 3,000 customers with flights, changes, and last-minute cancellations. Needless to say, none of these could have been handled so smoothly by a human call center.
Use case for Telco
Now, let’s consider a hypothetical example of the telco sector. When a telco venture supports more than 4,000 models of phones, modems, and routers, the technical skills required by customer support executives increase dramatically along with the resultant average handling time.
Consequently, the contact centres’ challenges remain high when they are trying to improve the customer experience across multiple channels. At the same time, they also have to be operationally efficient, reduce costs, and develop their agents’ skillsets.
As a result, the rise of AI and automation in contact centres have been embraced by telcos after automating some simpler customer requests through chatbots.
Customer-facing chatbots have made the lives of both businesses and customers better off. Conversational AI, which is the technology behind chatbots, provides humanized responses to those who seek them. As a business, you should carefully consider the different versions of chatbots before buying them. You should go for solutions that can handle more complex scenarios requiring lots of integration, answer complex questions and understand customer sentiment while maintaining the flow of conversation.
If implemented properly, the chatbots possess an extraordinary ability to learn and discover new customer trends and optimize themselves accordingly. So whether you are a customer or business, go ahead and experience a chatbot conversation today.
Aurosikha Priyadarshini is a senior product marketer at Kore.ai.