There are a few obvious benefits of a chatbot for customer service. You may even have thought of a couple as soon as you read this article's title.
I find there are always a few hidden ways in which a chatbot helps a customer service department -- and, at some point, the entire company.
If you are running a customer service department, this article is for you. My hope is it sparks some inspiration. The seven ways described below may very well turn into 27 by the time you finish reading.
We will start with the obvious, then move on to more fun stuff.
1. Unclog your help lines
Told you we'd go with the obvious one first!
A customer service chatbot is first there to unclog your help lines. It is there to take over where human resources are not needed.
'What time do you open?'
'What are your refund policies?'
'I lost my password, how do I log in?'
None of these (and about a bazillion more) should need your precious trained human staff.
Our research shows 80% of customer service enquiries originate from a small number of regular questions. Don't let your staff crawl under the weight of these repetitive questions. Your customer service chatbot can handle them easy peasy.
2. Increase productivity
Productivity in the customer service department is a tricky thing. You have to strike the right balance between empathy (taking your time) and efficiency (do things quicker so you can achieve more).
It's an art, really.
The good news is a chatbot can help you with that. By taking away the low hanging fruit in terms of customer enquiries, your chatbot allows you to deploy empathy and productivity on the cases that hit your desk.
You're freeing up time to handle these more complex cases. You're not crawling under 217 more tickets in your queue today. You have the time to do things and do them well.
3. Leverage immediacy
We are a 'right now' society. We have access to everything instantly. Reach down our pockets, pick up our phones, and the world is our oyster.
This means your customers will not wait for you to answer their queries. Or they might, reluctantly, and not be happy about it.
A customer service chatbot leverages immediacy. It is instant, always on, 24/7/365. It's actually one of the most appealing aspects of releasing a chatbot. It's always there to help.
69% of consumers would engage with a chatbot for instant answers.
Our research showed consumers love chatbots for that exact reason: they are instant. They allow them to get instant responses to their small queries.
4. Redirect to the right department
This is one of my favourite ones.
If you are thinking of releasing a chatbot in your customer service portal, the easiest way to go at it is to gather your top 100 queries you deal with every day and automate those.
Low hanging fruit.
The next step, though? Filtering!
Filtering enquiries is time-consuming. It accounts for a lot of the delays you get when you send a question via email to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. Someone has to pick up your email, read through it, make an educated decision on where it has to go to, send it.
Then, if that person failed, we're back at square one. Bouncing from a department to another.
A chatbot helps with that. It Utilises its super intelligence to direct the enquiries it cannot (yet) deal with to the right place.
5. Give you content ideas
All the chatbots we build include a fall-back to human feature. The principle is simple: if the chatbot cannot understand a user's input a few times in a row (typically three), it sends the user to a human and steps aside.
This is valuable information. Every time the chatbot struggles and sends the user to a human, we log the user's input. Feed that back to your customer service team.
Which questions are your customers asking that you weren't prepared for?
What might have you missed in your product descriptions?
What sort of content could you produce to avoid these confusions?
Pro tip: Talk with your marketing team as well. Show them this data. They will find it more useful than you might think.
6. Understand why a product doesn't sell
My point above calls for a close relationship between your customer service and marketing departments. This one focuses on your relationship with sales.
Recent research by Salesforce showed high-performing customer service teams are 1.8x more likely to share goals and metrics with sales teams. There seems to be an obvious correlation between the two departments to make a business thrive.
A chatbot can help with that, too. All the data your customer service chatbot can gather about users about every single product is valuable. Sentiment analysis (see below) of the conversation the average user has with your chatbot on a specific product will help determine its value.
Why is your product not selling? Maybe because every single user who wanders on its page ends up asking your chatbot about refund policies. Is that info clear on your landing page?
Why does this product have a high-return rate? Dig into the users engaging with your chatbot about this very product's return rate policies. Do they seem angry? About which feature? Do they give any reasons?
7. Enhance humanisation of your service
Though a chatbot is a robot (duh), it can be surprisingly human.
One of the benefits of deploying a chatbot in a customer service department is to get access to all this conversational data. Analysis of the hundreds or thousands of conversations your bot will engage into is valuable from a human point of view.
Here's a clever thing you can do: sentiment analysis.
Sentiment analysis is about analysing the way a customer talks to your chatbot to determine his or her state of mind. Is she happy? Is he angry? Is he in a hurry? Is she irritated?
Having access to this sort of information enhances the humanisation of your service. Your clever chatbot will adapt to your customer's frame of mind on the spot.
8. A/B testing and fine-tuning language
To wrap this up, a fun and sort of advanced one.
Most customer service departments have a very strict code that dictates the way one speaks to a customer. You must use these words, you must be emphatic, you mustn't swear (double-duh), etc.
One of my favourite recent 'trend' in customer service is the use of positive language. It essentially means it is always best to use positive sentences even if the outcome is the same.
Let's take my previous sentence as an example.
Positive: "It is always best to use positive sentences even if the outcome is the same."
Negative: "You should not use negative sentences even if the outcome is the same."
The point is to weed out as many negative sounding words like 'but', 'never', 'don't', etc. Try it, it is harder than you might think.
What is my point in all this? Your chatbot interacts with your customers the way you want it to. You will have set its conversational guidelines, its UX, its language, its persona.
Let's say you suddenly decide you want to implement this 'positive language' approach. There is no massive training to give your entire team, with guides, examples, and workshops. You can apply that change at the flick of a switch (more or less) through your chatbot, instantly affecting all its future interactions.
This allows you to A/B test different approaches with ease.
There are many ways in which a chatbot can help your customer service department. I ran with the seven ones above (three of which came up in one of my meetings yesterday. Yes, I cheated). I'm sure you could come up with some of your own.
Hope these have inspired you!