Six Reasons why Businesses Need Conversational AI Chatbot Solutions
The adoption of conversational ai chatbots for interaction-intensive businesses was on a high growth path, even before the pandemic hit. Early implementations that had failed to live up to expectations gave way to some cool advancements in the design and technology that underlies today’s chatbot.
But there’s still some confusion as to what chatbots really are and how they can be best leveraged by a business. One thing for sure is that the crisis triggered as COVID-19 hit the globe in early 2020 also triggered an urgency for accelerating conversational chatbot implementations to enable higher degrees of digital self-service, more automated engagement, and lower cost of service delivery.
So what is a Conversational AI Chatbot?
Let’s start with an explanation since there are so many different terms and definitions flying around and these solutions are far more sophisticated now than you might think.
Conversational AI is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) technology where computer software simulates natural language or human-like conversations. Based on natural language understanding technologies, conversational AI chatbot solutions have the power to understand and respond to a person using natural language, similar to how humans carry on a conversation.
They can be deployed on text/messaging or voice channels in place of a human, or ideally supplementing human skills. Even more important than their ability to just understand user intent in a phrase or message, is the fact that they can take actions and automate processes to fulfill a need in an automated way. When they don’t have the skills or training to completely respond or execute on an intent they can also bring a human into the loop.
In a nutshell, conversational AI chatbots are all about automation of customer- or employee-facing engagements and journeys.
Six Powerful Arguments for Businesses to Adopt Conversational AI Chatbots
It’s interesting to dig into why businesses are so eager to increase their investments in conversational AI technology. A recent IBM study about satisfaction rates with chatbot implementations stated:
“Businesses wondering whether virtual assistants are worth the investment may be interested to know that 96% of the respondents “exceeded, achieved, or expect to achieve” their anticipated return.”
It’s hard not to be enticed by this news. There is little doubt that this AI technology not only benefits businesses but is increasingly going to become an essential part of digital strategy.
1. Chatbots Lower the Cost to Serve
Putting a digital assistant to work is far less costly than a human worker, provided of course that the digital assistant has the training to deliver the required experience. Chatbots are a powerful way to take the pressure off human workers by either fully or partially automating incoming customer or employee requests and tasks. This then allows human staff to handle more complex or edge cases where they can add more value than just dealing with routine inquiries.
Often a chatbot is used to handle common or frequent queries that hit a customer service or contact center but they can be used outside of customer service to help in other areas like applying for a loan, filing a claim, lodging a complaint, getting a quote or proposal, scheduling an appointment, completing a transaction, or renewing a subscription.
Consider every touchpoint that a customer or employee has with your business and you’ll find that there are many ways in which digital assistants can be put in front of human workers to handle certain tasks. This is what we refer to as an automation-first approach to conversational AI solutions. In doing so businesses can offer customers and employees higher levels of self-service. A chatbot can also be accessible 24/7 while still offering a path to defer to a human when needed. Investments in agent skills and training are put to better use while the overall costs to serve, especially on tasks that can be easily automated by a bot are dramatically reduced.
2. Chatbots Thrive on Digital Channels
As consumers, many of us want to interact with businesses in the same ways we communicate with friends and family. This is increasingly driving organizations to offer their customers and employees more digital channels and move them away from traditional ones like phone, email, and live chat.
And it just so happens that digital channels like messaging, SMS, web, mobile, and voice are geared to automation through conversational AI chatbots. These channels also can offer customers faster response times and resolution rates as queuing for an agent to be available or for an email response to drop into your inbox become a thing of the past.
3. Chatbots can Easily Scale to Meet Demand
A recurring challenge for a contact center is in forecasting demand and having the correct staffing levels to meet surges. With a chatbot at the forefront to assist a customer or employee with their inquiry, peaks in demand are more easily managed, and more cost-effectively.
For a business that launches a new product or service, runs a promotional campaign, or is just subject to seasonal or event-driven spikes in incoming requests it’s not always feasible to just add more support staff to handle the additional demand. This is where a digital assistant can take some pressure off and act as a concierge or reception bot to give customers the information they need and if necessary gather information and pass it to an agent for future handling. Given that a chatbot can handle multiple conversations at any one time, they are automatically able to meet spikes in demand.
4. Chatbots Support Omnichannel Engagement
As consumers and even as employees we use multiple devices and channels in our search and acquisition of information, products, and services. You may research a particular product on social media, look for pricing via the web, and place an order via phone. An omnichannel experience allows us to switch seamlessly between channels in our journey while maintaining the context across each.
If you deploy a chatbot on all the digital channels that you support you can manage the experience in one place, an immediate win for consistency in engagement. A digital assistant is trained to respond accurately to requests and can provide this consistency across all interactions and channels. Since they can integrate with customer data sources and business systems the chatbot can also update the customer’s record so that future interactions have conversation and channel history and can pick up the thread, regardless of the channel.
On the subject of consistency, the great thing about conversational AI solutions is that they can be deployed across many different interaction points in the customer or employee lifecycle. When they are built using a conversational AI platform it doesn’t matter what the use case is, whether it’s customer acquisition, post-sales support, operations, customer service, or retention, a consistent experience can be delivered not only across channels but across different engagements. This is the beauty of centralizing chatbot development and management in one platform.
5. Chatbots Offer Personalized Experiences
Since chatbots can be integrated with CRM or other business systems, they can access customer and other data in real-time, integrate this into the conversation securely, and offer a more personalized and immediate service. So for a banking customer looking for their account balance, once they are authenticated an ai bot can see that they have several accounts and ask the customer to choose which one, and then provide them with the information that they specifically ask for. That could be just looking for the last 5 transactions or if a specific charge has gone through. Sifting through banking mobile apps or websites becomes cumbersome compared to the experience that the digital assistant can provide.
Chatbots also allow users to request the exact information they want and get it in the manner they want. For example, a customer may want to look for a specific car model, color, and year on a car shopping website but this requires them to search through multiple menus or click and scroll through several pages. With a chatbot, the user can ask “show me Silver Honda Accord 2018 models”. The chatbot comes back with a list or a carousel of the available matches.
6. Chatbots are Being Embraced by Consumers
Finally (although there any many other benefits to chatbots beyond these), consumers are increasingly just as happy of not happier to engage with a digital assistant rather than interact with a live agent, send an email, fill out a contact form, or use a website to search for info. So why not give them the satisfaction of a chatbot option. Then you’ll have happy customers, satisfied agents, and compelling business outcomes.
Conversational AI chatbot solutions are here to stay and will only get better as the maturity of implementations advances. If you’d like to learn more about how you can advance your conversational AI journey please download a copy of our new eBook guide.