In time gone by, customer service has been an extremely involved business. It requires people who are capable of empathising with customers, which means companies need to invest adequate resources into the maintenance of a team of people. However, in many cases, customer service can be boiled down to fairly simple premises. We have seen the rise of social media and automated call receiving technology help to solve many of the common issues that customers experience when working with businesses. Such technologies can be used to provide standard solutions to common problems, while directing those customers that need individual help to the right sources.
The next evolution of this concept is the chatbot. Many of us have come across this technology before, in one form or another, and admittedly in the past it has been primitive. However, with big data and machine learning becoming such huge factors in modern business, the chatbot has gone from an online distraction to an increasingly essential part of the customer service industry.
Why has this happened? Here we look at just a few of the ways that chatbots are evolving.
There is always a balance that needs to be found between automating common processes and providing customers with the level of personal service they need to stay engaged with the brand. Through chatbots, companies are able to provide the illusion of personal service through online chat, while saving the time of representatives for issues that do need to be dealt with manually.
Even if it is time saved in conducting the initial introductions and working out what the customer required, this means that representatives are working more directly on problems that need to be solved, making better use of their time in the process while chatbots handle the grunt work.
Traditionally, chatbots have been seen as reactionary. Their functions are sparked by a user interaction, following which the responses are tailored to whatever the user asks, based on the data behind the chatbot.
In the modern environment, we are increasingly seeing chatbots being used as a way to open communications with customers. As such, they are increasingly being seen as marketing tools, opening up an entirely new frontier in digital marketing in the process.
This is commonly being seen in mobile app technology. Some apps now come complete with a chatbot that can be downloaded to a user’s phone. It will then provide information and notifications. Marketers can use this to provide an instant alert to a consumer whenever a new product or offer is available that may interest them, with the reaction being from the customer, rather than the bot. A seamless transition into a chatbot conversation following that notification can result in sales that would otherwise have not been achieved.
The Human Factor
As mentioned at the top of the piece, early chatbots were ridiculed because they were obviously robots. What we are seeing now is chatbots being introduced to the market that have obvious personality.
Take the likes of Siri, which is essentially a chatbot for search. There is a reason why so many people are entertained by making requests and asking questions of it. Siri is infused with a personality that makes it enjoyable to engage in.
Again, this is an increasing trend in chatbot technology and one that is crucial to developing brands. If people enjoy interacting with the chatbot because of the entertainment value it can provide or the personality it exhibits, they are also more likely to engage with what it says.