If you still rely on human staff to address every customer query, you could be missing out. In the past couple of years, chatbots have become more and more refined, reaching a stage where it’s almost impossible to distinguish between a human and an AI in a text conversation. This is a tremendous opportunity for every business owner who wants to streamline and perfect customer support.

According to Facebook’s Chatbots guide, live chat software has a 73% satisfaction rate and an Oracle survey revealed that 80% of the businesses that don’t already use chatbots plan to adopt this technology in the next three years.

Chatbots have come a long way from Cleverbot’s awkward responses in the early days. With the rise of AI and machine learning, they have become better at understanding and replicating natural speech. Now, there are over 300,000 chatbots on Facebook and 40% of Millennials say that they interact with chatbots every day.

If you haven’t considered adopting chatbots so far, these are the 10 most important ways they can improve customer engagement:

1. Chatbots can learn to personalize customer interactions

Personalized customer support is a great way to boost engagement and offer customer value. Thanks to AI, chatbots can now adapt their responses in a different way every time, so that the customer doesn’t mind not interacting with a human representative. So, for example, if a customer who visits your Facebook page asks “When will this T-shirt be back in stock?”, the chatbot can reply with something like:

Hi, Mike. This T-shirt won’t be back in stock until next month but you can check out these similar designs”.

Modern chatbots are capable of analyzing complex speech patterns in just a few seconds and generate human-like responses, offering customers a relevant and helpful experience. Whole Foods, for example, uses an AI-powered chatbot on Facebook that remembers the customer’s dietary preferences.

2. They’re available 24/7

Although 24/7 customer support is something that every company wants to offer, the truth is that only large corporations have the resources to do this. If you also cater to international clients, this becomes even trickier, because you have to consider time zones.

Unlike human staff, chatbots don’t need breaks and they’re active 24/7. If a customer needs assistance outside the business hours, the chatbot can solve their query, so that they don’t have to leave a voice message or write an e-mail.

According to the State of Chatbots Report, customers rank 24/7 support as the best chatbot feature and 37% of those interviewed said that they would use a chatbot to get an answer in an emergency.

3. Instant responses

Apart from being available 24/7, chatbots are also able to offer instant responses to simple questions. Modern customers not only have a short attention span, but they also want instant gratification. Whether they need assistance or want to file a complaint, customers are likelier to have a positive experience if someone helps them instantly.

With human staff, this is almost impossible to achieve, so customers will have to be put on hold or even wait for hours until someone replies to their Facebook message. On average, it takes a company 10 hours to reply to a message on social networks. With chatbots, however, customers receive a reply instantly or they’re immediately connected to a human staff member who can assist them.

4. Easy communication

Digital customer service platform Helpshift conducted a poll on 2,000 participants regarding their interactions with customer support and a whopping 94% of respondents said that they dreaded contacting customer support. Among the reasons cited were complicated telephone menus, long waiting times, and unhelpful staff.

A chatbot doesn’t have any of these issues and can offer easy communication. Not only do chatbots give instant answers, but they also present customers with clear options or simple yes/no questions, so that there are no misunderstandings.

5. Save human resources for the processes that matter

According to the Helpshift study mentioned above, chatbots can solve 70% of customer queries without needing human assistance. This clears a huge amount of workload and your staff can focus their full attention on that 30% that chatbots can’t solve.

When your employees are overwhelmed by repetitive tasks, such as telling customers whether the store is open on Sundays or checking the status of their online order, it becomes harder for them to focus on important cases. Chatbots can clear their schedules and allow for better workflow planning in your organization.

Of course, not all tasks can be successfully handled by a chatbot. Some processes still require a human touch. For example, if you interact with foreign clients, automated translation doesn’t do the trick and you should still use professional services to find experts who can help you with localization.

6. Chatbots follow your branding strategy

The way customer service interacts with staff is an important part of your branding strategy. As a customer yourself, you’ve probably noticed that some company representatives are friendly and bubbly, while others have a formal and professional attitude. Once you decide on the approach, you need to be constant.

Unlike human workers, who can be affected by bad days, busy schedules or difficult customers, chatbots don’t get grumpy or impatient. They can handle multiple conversations at a time, without going off-script. They can be trained to be more or less formal, depending on your preferences, and this way you can be constant in your branding strategy.

7. They’re cost-effective

By saving time and boosting productivity, chatbots can also help your organization save money. According to a study by Juniper Research, chatbots will save about $8 billion annually for banking and healthcare companies. Other sectors can enjoy great savings too. Considering that one customer service staff member can only handle one request at a time and cannot work 24/7, chatbots can turn into an excellent investment.

Although chatbots may sound too advanced or expensive, AI is becoming more accessible than ever and you don’t need to have the resources of a Fortune 500 company to implement them. Even if you’ve just started a small business, chatbots are a realistic option

8. Chatbots can capture analytics

Your organization should draw data from every customer interaction. Why did the customer contact you? What is their experience with your company? What did you learn about them? What are their needs and what can you do to meet them?

Chatbots can do all that and you can analyze conversation metrics to find out how you can improve. You can also find out how customers are interacting with chatbots, using metrics such as goal retention rate, fall back rate, and user satisfaction.

9. You can integrate chatbots into existing systems  

When investing in tech solutions for your business, integration with existing systems is very important. Chatbots are no exception. When you integrate chatbots with Facebook messenger, your business website, and your marketing software, everything works together like a smooth system and you have all the data you need in a single place.

10. Stay ahead of the competition

Lastly, chatbots are a must-have tool for businesses that want to target tech-savvy customers. Being open to the latest technologies and going the extra mile to enhance customer experience not only gains the appreciation of your audience but also helps you position yourself as an industry leader.

Final Thoughts

Chatbots may have seemed like a sci-fi concept a few years ago, but now they are here to stay. If you want to improve customer engagement and boost productivity in your organization without making a huge investment, chatbots can help you.

Featured image credit: Pixabay.com

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Donald Fomby

At a relatively young age, Donald Fomby has already amassed impressive experience as a freelance writer. Donald studied Computer Science at Texas A&M. He has a passion for technology, social media and travel.

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