Be a better bot boss: 3 tips for CX chatbot success
Published: Nov 14, 2018
Author: Alla Reznik
Since the invention of the toll-free number, customer support has been the province of human agents. But make no mistake: the chatbots are here and more are coming. In fact, experts at Gartner predict that by 2020, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have deployed product chatbots.* Rapid improvements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing have finally made chatbots worthy of massive amounts of front-line interaction.
According to research on customer interactions at one major retailer, more than 50% of customer interactions were for simple, routine issues like order status or asking about returns and refunds. By using chatbots to handle the majority of high-volume, but low-value requests, companies can serve customers faster, while focusing their human agents on the customer interactions that provide the most value, such as handling customer complaints and answering product questions.
As the world gets faster and customers expect response times within seconds, chatbots will be able to rise up and bolster the capabilities of their human counterparts. Not only that, but chatbots are in a way the ultimate employee. They can work around the clock to provide instant, accurate answers using whatever channel the customer most prefers.
While HR doesn’t have to worry about giving bots lunch hours, holidays, or company benefits, bots still need someone to be the boss. You can’t yet throw a chatbot on your website or social feed and expect it to provide perfect customer service by itself. Just like human agents, it’s critical you take the time to train your chatbots and supervise them on the job to ensure they meet your expectations.
The first step is to make sure your chatbots are focused on the right tasks. While chatbot technology has improved significantly over the years, it's still far from the point of being able to carry on a real conversation. Instead, hone in on what your bot needs to learn in order to provide value to your business and your customers.
The good news is that many CX tasks don’t require the type of conversation human agents might have to have with a customer to resolve the same issue. According to research by Drift, people are, in fact, happy to interact with chatbots when it comes to getting a quick answer, resolving a complaint, making a reservation, and paying a bill.
Start small by identifying a few key use cases in your organization that don’t require conversation. Make sure you give your chatbot the knowledge base and technical resources it needs to answer these questions. At the same time, don’t forget to clearly communicate to customers what your chatbot can and can’t do so they don’t get frustrated or have outsized expectations.
Next, know what you’re getting into. You wouldn’t put a human agent to work without giving them the technology, tools, processes, and infrastructure to do their jobs. Similarly, a chatbot is only as good as the tech and team behind it. Instead of adding yet another burden to your IT staff, make sure your chatbot initiative has its own champion within CX along with the specialized technology necessary to implement the solution, monitor performance, and make improvements.
Finally, even the best employee needs to know when to call in a supervisor. It will be important to integrate chatbots with human agents so as to seamlessly elevate issues from one to the other.
While some customers prefer to use a chatbot to avoid a lengthy conversation with a human agent, we’ve all had the experience of getting increasingly frustrated as the automated voice on the other end of the helpline can’t understand what we’re trying to accomplish. Instead of making it difficult to get a human, your customer should be able to get live help any time they want it.
At the end of the day, technology makes up only a small part of chatbot success. A thoughtful strategy supported by human expertise will play a much more important role in determining if customers embrace your chatbot CX efforts. Before implementing any chatbot initiatives, make sure you’re doing it because it’s best for your customer, not just your bottom line. The more you can make your chatbot initiatives customer-centric, the easier it will be to become the ultimate bot boss.
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Alla Reznik is Director, Customer Experience (CX) for Verizon's Global Products and Services group. She leads teams fulfilling the complete CX product life-cycle process and PNL, encompassing: concept and design; competitive analysis; branding and marketing strategy; and final development and deployment.
*Smarter with Gartner, Chatbots Will Appeal to Modern Workers, March 28, 2018.