The Year of Chatbots Can be the Year of Customer Service Agents

Before we delve into details, answer one simple question. What is customer care all about, especially for utility companies? Well, it’s in the name itself, isn’t it?

Customer care is all about the customer. Yes, you guessed it right. Now whatever you do – choosing the best possible call center software, hiring the best possible talent for your call center – they’re all done with the same agenda in mind; that is, to please the customer.

There are new and improved metrics and modern versions of software being developed every day so that customer care becomes easier. Why? The reason remains the same.

It is 2017. Did you think you could get away with using the same kind of old fashioned call center software? Of course not. You need to get your hands on the latest models of call center software, if you haven’t already.

Also, if you are a bit of a tech geek and proud, you would want to keep yourself updated with the latest developments in this field. By now, you must have come across the term, “chatbots”.

It is only natural that you should – given that marketers and business owners are increasingly towards chatbots when it comes to running their business.

So what are chatbots? Well, you must be aware of Siri, right? Or Cortana? Well, those are chatbots. A chatbot is a computer application that is designed to replicate human texts and audio or replies when you enquire something.

Now how do you use that in customer care? Earlier on, when your customers had queries, they would call up your customer care reps and enquire. Now, with chatbots, things become a tad bit easier.

They could directly ask the chatbots, irrespective of the kind of questions they have in mind and expect replies just like what a human customer care agent would give. And guess what? There is usually a dash of humour added as well!

If you are aware of chatbots and how they are being used for customer care, you must have also read about how chatbots pose numerous challenges.

Well, all kinds of software technology come with a set of challenges, don’t they? Yet, you cannot ignore the chatbots technology – simple because everyone is using it and it is rapidly on the rise.

Also, did you know that chatbots can be addictive? Customers actually enjoy using the chatbots; oh come on, it is fun and entertaining to talk to a computer application.

Yes, you read that right. “TALK”. You actually get to talk and interact with the chatbots, in any way you want to. How cool is that?

However, you need to know exactly how to make the most of this software technology to ensure smooth functioning of call center software solutions.

Below, we are providing you with a detailed discussion and some tips which can help you work with chatbots better :

1. If you are a small scale business owner, it means, you have very little time on your hands. You would be extremely busy with various kinds of activities, since you are managing everything on your own.

But you wouldn’t have enough time to actually concentrate on selling your products. And we all know that without efficient marketing, you aren’t going to be able to sell your products.

This is where chatbots come in. They can be like your personal assistants and help you market your products better.

2. For companies selling products, especially ecommerce companies, payments are an important aspect which must be taken care of at the very beginning.

The chatbots call center management software can help with that. With this, payments become much simpler and smooth. Customers can even approach the chatbots if they have queries regarding payments and clarify them. It couldn’t get simpler than that.

3. Chatbots will help you gain insight into the customer’s mind. For instance, while speaking to your customers, your chatbots would be able to gather information about the customer and what he or she is thinking.

Cloud contact center solutions has always revolved largely around customer information. Chatbots simply offer you another way of getting your hands on them. As a matter of fact, you can use the chatbots to study your customer’s habits and practices and store information regarding that.

4. Also, the chatbots can store information about the kind of questions your customers come up with. For instance, if one of your customers comes up with a unique kind of question, your chatbot programme would store information about it.

That way, if someone comes up with a similar question later on, you have an answer ready for it. You would have a better understanding of what the customer wants and what they expect from you. This would help you deal with them better.

5. Look, don’t make the mistake of generalising your customers. Don’t try to fit them into categories. Each customer is unique in his or her own way. They have their own set or requirements and needs and expectations.

Also, customers expect you to provide a customised customer care service. It makes them feel important and wanted too. Chatbots can help you do that. With sufficient information about your customers, you would be able to personalise customer care.

6. The chatbot cloud contact center software offers you a humanised way of offering customer care solutions. Earlier, when customers would speak to the customer care reps, it didn’t offer much scope for a double sided communication.

However, the chatbots are a lot more “human”, no matter what you say. The replies are very much like what your friends would say, as a matter of fact. They are simple and to the point, with a touch of humour.

7. Chatbots also increase engagement with the brand. Brand engagement is one of the most important aspects of running a business. How do you keep a customer engaged? How can you retain them?

You need to come up with newer and more innovative ways of keeping them engaged and entertained. One way of doing so is using chatbots. Not only do chatbots make customer service much simpler but also make it fun and addictive. It helps build your brand.

8. If you are running an ecommerce company, you know how important leads are. It is important to know what leads would work on which customer.

Why else would you waste your precious and valuable time on a customer if your leads won’t technically lead to anything? Chatbots can help you with that. They can help you qualify your leads. Well, that is another thing off your checklist, isn’t it?

9. One of the major problems with chatbots is that they offer a colder user experiences. More often than not, the chatbots are cold and machine like and fail to make an impression with the customers.

This is something you need to keep in mind. Most chatbots have a programmed script and the moment they step out of it, the replies become robotic.

Take adequate measures to ensure that your chatbots are empathetic and human-like. They should be able to understand the problem of the customer and sympathise with him or her and reply accordingly.

10. Before you design the chatbots and write the code for the scrip, ask yourself some questions. If you were in the customer’s place, what kind of replies would you be looking for?

What do you hate about mechanical replies? What would you have instead? These should help you design the script. In texting, there must be certain little touches that you enjoy.

Try to incorporate these touches into your chatbots as well. The script should be enjoyable and fun to read. So what if they are your customers? It doesn’t hurt to be a little kind and friendly now, does it?

11. Also, make sure the chatbots’ scripts are kept rather simple and straightforward. In an attempt to be witty or funny, don’t complicate the script.

Remember, this is an interaction with the customer. It has a purpose. The purpose is to support the customer and provide him or her with answers.

Coming up with an overtly complicated script or making it difficult to understand would defeat the whole purpose. And that is something you definitely want to avoid. Also, don’t overload the conversation with paragraphs of text. Give your customers a break! Let them breathe!

12. The whole idea behind using chatbots is to bring a smile to your customer’s face. It should delight them and entertain them – not infuriate them.

Thus, here are some things you could do: one, try to add some humour whenever and wherever possible. Who doesn’t appreciate good humour?

Two, don’t be afraid to use emojis. Conversations in 2017 are incomplete without these. Of course, don’t go overboard with them. That could be rather disturbing.

13. Now here is the thing – a bot isn’t a human. At the end of the day, the bot isn’t going to be able to relate to humans, for obvious reasons.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be able to pick up on little hints and signs like a human being would. Now that is an issue only if you make it out to be.

If you take adequate measures to humanise your bots as far as possible, it shouldn’t be a problem. For instance, you can add a back story to them. That way, your bots would have an answer for whatever questions your customers come up with.

14. When you first launch the bot, they would be having a programmed script. Now that’s fine and acceptable. But your bots should be able to learn from all the conversations they have with the customers; much like your customer care reps who learn from hands on experience.

Now it is important to incorporate that experience into your bots too. The key s to build your bots, learn from conversations, refine them and keep repeating the process.

15. Don’t leave everything to your chatbots. Add humans to the operations too. Look, the truth is, chatbots cannot solve everything.

At the end of the day, chatbots are simply a piece of technology and lack basic human instincts. It would be best if you could combine the natural “human-ness” of your customer care reps with the efficiency of your chatbots.

That would be the perfect combination and would guarantee maximum customer satisfaction.

16. What is it that you are hoping to achieve with the help of the chatbots? You must have a certain agenda in mind right?

Maybe you are thinking that it would help you solve your customer care problems. Or that it’ll help you sell more products.

Whatever the case may be, you need to build your chatbots accordingly. The script you come up with or the interactions you develop should revolve around the plan you have in mind.

Building your bots strategically will only help you in the long run.

17. Test the usability factor of your chatbots from time to time. The chatbots have been developed to make self service seem like a piece of cake.

Also, the chatbots are supposed to provide efficient service all through. From time to time, you need to ensure that your bots are up to date and they are working to their fullest potential.

There are several tools that you can use to test the usability of your bots. Ensure that you make the most of them.

18. Usually, while interacting with a chatbot, there is a kind of an “aha, moment”!. This is when your customers really get into it and are drawn into it.

Speak about customer engagement, right? This is how you lure your customers in. Of course, if this moment we are speaking of, comes sooner, it is best for everyone involved.

The more you wait, the more you lose out on customers. Or rather, your customers are soon to be bored and will leave. That is something you want to avoid.

19. In all kinds of interactions, there are usually triggers. There has to be something that triggers a specific reaction in the customer.

When they are approaching your chatbots, they are looking for something specific. Like a solution or a way to ease their problem.

If that is what they are looking for and you succeed in picking up on it, then make sure you provide that trigger. It’ll work to your advantage.

20. Chatbots can, essentially, motivate your customers to take certain actions that you customer care reps cannot. For instance, you want your customers to stay engaged and you want them to show more interest in your products – something your reps haven’t been able to help with.

But with chatbots, that becomes comparatively easier. The very idea of interacting with chatbots seems rather addictive and entertaining and customers thus become much more receptive to new ideas.

Case study 1

It isn’t just you who’s considering chatbots. Several companies have done it before you, and guess what? They have actually benefited from it. In the sections above, we have talked in details about what a chatbot is and what it does.

We have even discussed about how chatbots can help or how it could benefit your customer care. However, it would be only right if we provide you with certain real life examples of how chatbots have been used and the policies and strategies followed by the companies.

For all those interested in beauty, fashion or make up, Sephora is a well known brand. This company is largely responsible for bringing about numerous fashion and make up revolutions across the world.

The company provides styling tips and make up tips to anyone who approaches them. Earlier on, customers would call up the customer care guys at Sephora, convey their queries and questions to them and wait while the call center reps came up with a solution.

This took up a lot of time and as we all know, if there is one thing customers hate, it is waiting.

Also, the reps at Sephora opted for communication across multiple channels. For instance, it was impossible to send make up tutorials via calls, for obvious reasons.

This created a hindrance in the smooth functioning of customer care and also stood in the way of maximum customer satisfaction.

Eventually, Sephora decided to try out chatbots. They partnered up with a major messaging app and launched a chatbot there for the customers.

Customers who wanted to could reach out to Sephora through the chatbots. They could ask the bot any question they wanted and even ask for tips and suggestions.

The chatbot replied in the form of answers and even provides them with tutorial videos et cetera.

This is how their chatbot functions. When a customer reaches out to the bot, it asks the customer a series of questions – almost like a personal quiz.

As the customer reveals certain aspects to his or her personality, the chatbot gains in customer insight. It picks up certain hints that tell Sephora what that particular customer is like and what he or she is looking for.

Accordingly, the chatbot would interact with the customer. It would even provide a personalised service by sending customised suggestions and tips.

That is sure to impress the customer and make them feel that Sephora really understands and cares for their customer.

Moreover, with the use of chatbots, the customers wouldn’t even have to leave the messaging app and visit the actual website of the company. Earlier, to purchase any kind of goods, the customer would have to visit the company website and place the order.

Not anymore. They can simply enquire about the product in the chat itself and place the order with the chatbot by referring to the specific product.

The rest, you can leave to the chatbot. This makes operations much simpler and smoother too. It makes it equally easier for the customer who wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of visiting the company website.

Case study 2

Now that you have a clear idea of how Sephora used their chatbot, it would be time to move on to the second case study. You see, companies slowly started realising the need for adapting to the new generation.

2017 is the age of the millennials, the Gen Z, the new generation that revolves entirely around technology. If the companies wanted to live up to expectations, chatbots seemed like the most obvious choice for change.

The brand name of Uber must be pretty familiar to all. Uber allows you to book cabs and rides across the globe, thus revolutionizing transport and travel.

Earlier, we would have to rent cars or worse yet, wait while a cab decided to take us on. But not anymore. With Uber’s new mobile friendly app, you can just log in, select your drop location, pay the cab in cash or directly through the app and be done with it. How cool is that?

However, to ensure that the process goes off as smoothly as it seems, it was important for Uber to have a strong and well developed customer care system that could be at their customer’s beck and call.

Eventually, Uber realised the need for chatbots since the volume of customer calls made it almost impossible to manage. Uber partnered up with one of the most popular (if not, the most popular) messaging app that more than a billion people already use.

They incorporated a chatbot that could help with customer care. Customers who didn’t wish to call up Uber could simply contact them via the chatbot.

For instance, let’s say you need a ride quick and urgently. You can state that to the chatbot who’s always up for a chat. The ride will be booked for you instantly and you will also be given status updates from time to time.

Uber integrated their chat options in such a way that two people conversing through the popular messaging app could request for a ride by simply clicking on the address.

Just like in Sephora, the customer wouldn’t have to actually visit the Uber app to book the ride. They could do so through the chatbot.

There was a time when the rise of robots would symbolise doom in the world. Not anymore. Chatbots are now the future of customer care; whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to hop on to the wagon if you want to avoid disappearing into the oblivion.