Deploying an Army of Bots to Drive Better Customer Engagement
Army of Bots: Why so Popular Now?
Chatbots, or bots, are all the rage at the moment and everyone from the big players like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook to small- or medium-sized businesses are getting in on the act.
While conversational bot technology isn’t completely new, the recent growth in adoption of conversational interfaces has been driven largely by the rapid increase in the use of mobile devices, social media, and messaging services.
Messenger apps have become a primary way in which people interact with each other and with the businesses and brands of their preference. Bots are now joining these conversations, participating in ways that can enhance the customer experience through quicker response to simple queries 24/7, and increase the efficiency of customer service delivery, through automation and AI.
With over 6 billion monthly active users on messenger apps, the opportunity for implementing bots cannot be underestimated. In a survey on the importance of chatbots and virtual reality in customer experience conducted by Oracle, 80% of the respondents said they already used chatbots or planned to use them by 2020. While messaging apps are the ideal deployment channel for chatbots, consumers and businesses are trying to come to grips with their ideal use cases and best implementation strategy. For many of us, the initial experience with chatbots has been frustrating, and for businesses, the cluttered and complex landscape of opportunities, products and vendors can be daunting.
Bot Classification meets AI Customer Service Engagement Use Cases
Like any other new and emerging technology, the adoption of bots is a journey that starts with chatbot strategy and objectives. No longer just a buzzword, digital transformation is firmly under way across many industries, with digital business strategies encompassing bots as well as many other technologies such as mobile, AI, IoT, and blockchain.
So where do you start with bots? One of the first steps is to identify the use cases and the potential business value rather than boil the ocean or jump headlong into technology decisions. While there are several business processes and use cases that could benefit from bot technology, for the purposes of this blog I will focus on the area of customer engagement (employee engagement will come later). And by this I mean engagement in the form of either inbound customer service or outbound promotions or marketing campaigns. Whether an interaction is initiated by a customer, such as a complaint, or by the business (a customer retention initiative, for example), bots can automate and enhance the interaction.
Since bots are not created equally, it is helpful to think of them in terms of different categories that can broadly identify their role and level of complexity, even if there may be overlap. In the context of customer engagement, here are some categories that help match the bot type to use cases.
1. Service Bots
These bots handle typical customer service requests and FAQs. They provide quick access to simple, repetitive tasks such as pin or password reset, account balance information, shipment tracking details, pricing information, and many more use cases. By enabling 24/7 access, these service bots greatly enhance the convenience and availability of customer service, especially when enabled across multiple channels.
2. Journey Bots
These bots manage customer journeys from a point of initiation through a given workflow in order to achieve specific outcomes. Take the example of applying for a loan, opening a bank account, booking a hotel room, onboarding a customer to a service, changing a passenger’s flight, and many more use cases. Journey bots are more complex in nature than basic virtual assistants or service bots, as they take a customer through specific workflows in order to fulfill a particular task or request.
3. Automation Bots
These bots automate recurring tasks such as billing, renewals and appointment setting. While they can overlap with other bot categories, I mention them specifically since automating routine tasks improves overall process efficiency, freeing humans to focus on more complex customer engagements.
4. Campaign Bots
These are typically our outbound bots whose task it is to execute marketing campaigns such as proactive loyalty outreach, promotions, retention, winback, collections, and upsell or cross-sell opportunities.
Consider your key customer engagement processes and the business value that these bot types could yield. Then drill down into specific use cases that could deliver quick wins. For example, does your business rely on successfully onboarding customers as part of their journey and experience with your products or services? By deploying an onboarding bot whose role and skill set is programmed around the onboarding workflows and applying AI so that the bot can learn and adapt over time, a true process-oriented bot whose role is specific to this particular customer journey comes to life.
On the other hand, your business may be prone to customer churn, resulting in the need to proactively win back customers. You can deploy a customer retention bot to execute an outbound campaign that plays a critical role as part of a customer retention strategy, to engage customers who have already left, are nearing the end of a contract, or at risk of making a change.
A new age of Customer Experience: Bots, ServisBOTs, and the Army of Bots
Prioritize the low hanging fruit of customer engagement use cases and consider how a well-tuned bot can help your organization get started quickly and effectively. At ServisBOT, rather than thinking of chatbots purely as virtual assistants that generate responses to common customer service queries, we think in terms of an Army of Bots where each ServisBOT has a defined role and skill set that is very targeted to a specific business process or purpose. In this sense, they are analogous to humans playing different roles and applying specific skills to a business activity, either acting alone or in collaboration with others.
The onboarding bot is a single example of a lone worker tasked with onboarding workflows but this bot could be deployed alongside other bots with specific roles and skills, each playing their part across a customer-facing process. For example, during the onboarding process, an application bot could handle the process around applications, for example, in the case of a loan application. And a renewal bot could manage the renewal of a license or membership, while a complaint bot resolves customer objection or grievance…and on it goes.
ServisBOTs are a means to simplify the implementation of bots and get started quickly and easily on your AI journey. Here’s a short video clip if you’d like to understand the difference between a bot and a ServisBOT.
ServisBOT’s Army of Bots transform Customer Engagement
The army of task-oriented bots are programmed to deliver great customer experiences. Like any army, these bots perform different roles and functions, at the frontiers (i.e. the customer-facing frontline) or in the trenches (i.e. the back office), engaging with customers, completing transactions, automating repetitive tasks, or providing information and support. They can be deployed for small specialist tasks or scale up to deal instantly with very large volumes of work and transactional requests. ServisBots can work alone on an individual task or as part of a campaign working with others to complete a common mission. They are designed for a specific business purpose with a goal of achieving a specific outcome, whether that is to reduce customer churn, comply with GDPR, or schedule appointments. Powered by AI, these ServisBOTs go beyond simple automation of manual or repetitive tasks, gaining intelligence through learning on the job. And like human beings, ServisBOTs exhibit some similar characteristics. They are:
Intelligent: Well, artificially at least. With embedded AI, ServisBOTs can navigate complex journeys and conversations with multiple outcomes and respond to customer queries along the way.
Flexible: ServisBOTs can support different types of transactions and interactions ranging from simple responses of FAQs to total ownership of complex campaigns & service journeys such as on-boarding, renewals & collections.
Efficient: Requiring no capital investment and built on serverless technologies, ServisBOTs are very efficient at executing tasks and stand down after completing a given assignment, thus saving money when not in use.
Agile: Once deployed, ServisBOTs are very agile and can adjust their behavior and responses to real-time market & operational challenges quickly and easily.
Social: ServisBots don’t just talk & work amongst themselves – they integrate with third party applications like CRM and happily work alongside bots from Google & Amazon to ensure the best AI solution.
Supplementing Human Interactions with Bots.
By supplementing, or, in some cases, replacing human interactions with clever bots, many customer engagements can be made available 24/7 and handled in more automated and efficient ways, releasing humans to handle more complex tasks. Not only does this lower the cost of service delivery but it also puts customers in control of how and when they interact with a business.
Bots alone, however, will not achieve the successful transformation of customer or employee engagement models. Identifying the use cases and the associated bot roles and skillsets, and then enabling them to become smarter as individual or team contributors is key to success. Combine this with a multi-channel communication capability across voice, chat, SMS, and other messaging channels and a strong army of bots can defend and advance on all fronts.