The world is getting whole digital. Small to large organisations are utilising technology to the maximum extent. Offering the best customer service is always a priority of all businesses from every sector. Almost every medium-scale enterprise to large-scale industry giant has a dedicated customer service department.
This department takes care of customer queries, complaints, and suggestions. Every customer service or customer support executive aims at solving each customer query with great efficiency and provides the best support. Queries can vary from simple to complex ones. It can be as simple as gaining information about products or can be as complex as virtual assistance in software setup.
With rapidly evolving technology, every sector is finding different ways to utilise technology at its best. There are various technologies that have been a great help in substituting human resources. One such technology is the chatbot.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a computer program simulating natural human-to-human conversations. End users, i.e. customers, interact with chatbots via chat interface or voice commands. These commands are nothing but inputs given to the program, which are later processed to offer an output. The chatbots interpret and analyse the words or phrases in order to understand the exact query. According to the query, the chatbot offers the most suitable answer.
There are various benefits of using a chatbot for customer support services. Hence the popularity of chatbots is increasing at a rapid pace. As per a report, 53% of service organisations expect to use chatbots within the next 1.5 years. Real estate, travel, education, healthcare, and finance are major industries using chatbots.
Gartner’s report states that by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis. Another report generated by Gartner states that 25% of customer service operations will be using virtual customer assistants by 2020. With the growing demand for chatbots, many businesses are curious about this technology. Before discussing the advantages of chatbots, let us first understand how they work.
There are 3 Types of Chatbots
- Rule-based chatbots
- Intellectually independent chatbots, and
- AI-powered chatbots.
The rule-based chatbots are the simplest ones and take more time to resolve queries. These chatbots interact with users by displaying predefined options. The user clicks on the relevant option, and the program sends answers associated with that particular option.
Intellectually independent chatbots use machine learning. This is the most common type of chatbot. These bots are programmed in a way to train themselves by understanding more and more questions and patterns of queries.
Machine learning enables bots to store user queries in the form of data and relate it with other queries. For instance, 2 users can ask similar queries in different ways. Intellectually independent chatbots are not restricted to a particular pattern of queries. These chatbots are trained to answer questions with minimal human interference.
Artificial intelligence-powered chatbots are a combination of rule-based chatbots and intellectually independent chatbots. AI simulates human intelligence. These chatbots are the most advanced. These bots not only understand different patterns but also remembers user preferences and previous queries.
While analysing each question, these bots consider user history and preferences. It uses 2 processes: natural language understanding and natural language generating. These bots not only understand natural languages but also are able to reply in human-like language. Many users state that it becomes difficult to identify whether they are communicating with machines for humans.
Many chatbots involve voice recognition technology that helps users to communicate with them as if they are communicating with human resources.
Benefits of using chatbots
Operational cost reduction
As per a report, businesses spent 1.3 trillion US dollars to service customer requests in the year 2018. With the use of chatbots, companies can save up to 30% of this operational cost.
A single chatbot is able to handle thousands of queries in one day without any breaks. Most of organisations struggle to hire human resources for 24*7 rotating shifts. This issue can be resolved using chatbots.
Improved customer service
Many users state that their queries were solved rapidly with bots. As chatbots are programmed to answer queries in real-time, users experience better and faster services.
Now that you know how chatbots work, you must have understood that the data gathered by chatbots is not only used to understand further user queries but also to analyze user experience. These insights are used to understand customers better and deliver improved services.
Does this mean that chatbots can replace customer service executives?
The answer is a big NO. Though artificial intelligence is known for its advanced ‘thinking’ ability, it is still not reliable when it comes to complex queries. As per the research conducted by Salesforce, 64% of agents with Artificial Intelligence chatbots can spend most of their time solving complex queries.
Such complicated situations require more time and intelligence. If small queries are handled by chatbots, customer service agents can get more time to invest in complex questions. Industries such as finance and IT can have major technically complex queries. We cannot even imagine a scenario where a customer is complaining regarding a financial transaction and getting unsatisfactory answers from chatbots. This can lead to the loss of a customer.
Human-to-human interaction involves empathy. This lacks chatbot interactions. An angry customer is more likely to post bad reviews on the internet about the business and its services. Customer reviews play an important role in attracting new customers.
Hence it is extremely crucial for businesses to maintain a good image online. Empathy is an important part of customer service. Agents have the capacity to handle angry customers with politeness and patience. Chatbots cannot detect the emotions of users by listening or reading commands. Hence, it cannot handle angry customers properly.
Every technology has its share of pros and cons. Similarly, chatbots are extremely efficient in certain situations but not in all of them. Organisations that use chatbots for basic queries and let the customer service executive handle complex ones are more likely to achieve success.