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Chatbot BenefitsMay 4, 2020Written by Alex Debecker

6 Ways Chatbots Add Value to Your Customer Self-Service Strategy

'If you're anything like me, you would much rather self-serve'.

This is how I introduced my webinar on why chatbots are customer self-service's logical next step in January 2020.

Unsurprisingly, I'm not alone in thinking that.

Research shows 81% of customers attempt to self-serve before eventually resorting to getting actual human help (source). 67% of us would rather self-serve -- period (source).

As individuals, we all understand the power of self-serving. It saves time, it prevents us from having to wait for an email (ugh) or talk over the phone (ughhhh).

We also know self-service is valuable for businesses. According to HBR, the average B2C customer service interaction costs $7 whereas the average B2B customer service interaction costs $14 (source).

average costs of customer service interactions

Clearly, adopting a self-serve strategy makes good business sense.

Recent technological advancements have brought a new string to the self-serving strategy bow: chatbots.

How do chatbots add value to your customer self-service strategy?

1. A new source of information

The first way chatbots bring value to your customer self-service strategy is by being a new source of information.

Through a chatbot, your customers can find the information they need in real-time. It's an interactive and instantaneous experience where customers benefit in a few keystrokes.

Is it just another way to get information? I'm glad you ask.

Businesses that implement a chatbot as part of their self-serving strategy do so by making the chatbot the primary source of information.

The chatbot, therefore, stands as the first line of defence (more on that later). The typical approach is to release it on the knowledge base or the FAQ pages itself.

2. A conversational approach to self-serving

One of the most interesting statistics we found is that 40% of customers who try to self-serve end up still reaching out to the support team (source).


At ubisend, we posit this is because most self-serve information is not available in a conversational format.

In a recent article on enhancing the knowledge base experience with a chatbot, we compared the experience of searching for a simple answer in a knowledge base versus a chatbot.

Even the most basic customer enquiries have follow-ups. That's where the basic, unidimensional approach of FAQs and knowledge bases falls flat.

With a chatbot, customers can interact and benefit from following up on their initial question.

Chatbots enable customers to actually self-serve, while other approaches seem to only delay the inevitable call to your customer service team.

3. A first line of defence

Chatbots are an excellent first line of defence.

We found that 40 to 80% of customer service enquiries can be answered by a chatbot. These are astronomical numbers. If you factor in the cost of humans answering these enquiries, you quickly realise the cost of not automating.

If you'd like to calculate that cost, use our free worksheet below:

measure the ROI of a customer service chatbot worksheet

Your chatbot adds value to your self-service strategy by acting as the first line of defence. It sits in front of all your other customer service channels (social media, phone, emails, tickets, etc.) and takes the biggest hit.

As your chatbot interacts with users, one of two things happens:

  • Your chatbot answers the question (and the follow-up questions). The customer is happy. Congratulations, you have just saved some money!
  • Your chatbot cannot answer the question and escalates to a human.

There is, of course, an instant value in having a machine automatically answer questions (calculate that value with our worksheet).

So, onto escalation...

4. Escalation

Assuming your chatbot can answer 40 to 80% of inbound enquiries, this leaves 20-60% of them going to your humans.

Assuming, also, that the enquiries the chatbot can answer are the easiest ones, this leaves your capable humans answering more complex enquiries.

Can a chatbot also provide value in this instance? Or are humans left to their own devices, facing complex and time-consuming support tickets?

Welcome to the chatbot's escalation feature.

There are various reasons why your chatbot may not have been able to answer the customer's question. Maybe it wasn't trained to do so. Maybe the customer's enquiry is too complex. Maybe the customer's enquiry deals with personal, sensitive data and your chatbot was programmed to escalate these automatically.

Whatever it is, your chatbot is capable to gather some information about the ticket before escalating it. Typically, it can gather:

  • Rough topic (through advanced natural language processing)
  • Customer data (location, language, etc.)
  • Product data (product/service purchased, when, etc.)

Even with this limited amount of information, the chatbot is capable of performing a smart escalation.

For example, knowing the customer is from England, has purchased a software license, and is having trouble with the latest software version allows your chatbot to escalate the ticket to an English-speaking service rep who deals with software queries.

This smart escalation approach allows businesses to save enormous amounts of precious time per ticket.

This is a typical (simplified) customer service workflow:

typical customer service workflow

Now, let's compare this with a typical (also simplified) self-service workflow with a chatbot:

customer self-service workflow with chatbot

As you can see, every interaction between nodes is shorter than without the chatbot. Why? Because the chatbot has automated a good chunk of enquiries, freeing up time.

But also because the chatbot's smart escalation features allows service reps to deal with enquiries faster.

5. A crisis-proof approach to customer service

The recent COVID crisis has impacted every business.

Customer service departments have suffered more than most. This department desperately needs to keep running, sometimes with less staff and more enquiries than ever before.

A chatbot adds value in this instance by being crisis-proof. Your chatbot can keep running, no matter what.

Read more on scaling customer service during a crisis.

6. Gets better over time

One of the many perks of working with a software powered by artificial intelligence is that it gets better over time.

How many pieces of software your company has put in place in the last few years can say the same?

As your customer service chatbot sits there, handling thousands of questions per day and escalating tickets, it gets better. This is the indirect return-on-investment businesses can capitalise on with chatbot technology.

Key resources

Interested in learning more? Here are a few key resources I encourage you to read/watch:

Why chatbots are customer self-service's next logical step (webinar)

The features of an FAQ chatbot (page)

measure the ROI of a customer service chatbot worksheet