Chatbots & AI in 2017: Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Back in the early days of Helpshift, we made a bet that mobile messaging would be the preferred channel of communication. And we were right.

Today, consumers use messaging on a daily—if not hourly—basis. As we move into 2018, businesses are truly starting to understand that they need to provide that same familiar and convenient messaging experience in customer service in order to retain customers and build loyalty.

As technology advances, providing a more personalized messaging experience is more accessible than ever—and a big competitive differentiator. It’s also a lot less expensive than traditional channels. Phone calls to customer support are costing an average of $12 per call, whereas messaging hovers around the $1 mark.

Part of what is driving this cost down is the use of workflow automations, the agents’ ability to respond to multiple issues at once— and chatbots. Chatbots offer an enhanced functionality for customers to help themselves, instantly. Helpshift has always prioritized efficient, cost-effective service at scale, and providing top-notch self-service options is a foundational imperative (this is visible through our unique functionality like autofill for FAQ searches.) Our customers often see ticket deflection rates ranging from 80 percent to 95+ percent, and that already high number is only rising as chatbots become more accurate and effective.

Over the course of 2017, we have taken that focus on self-service to the next level by laying the foundation for our comprehensive—what I like to call—chatbot army.

We are arming both agents and customers alike with automation that drastically improves their experience. We’ve already introduced bots that suggest relevant knowledge articles, collect routine information, and drive CSAT feedback—and this is just the beginning of our journey—a journey that will harness all that artificial intelligence has to offer in the customer service realm.

AI is the future, but leveraging AI in the right way so that it streamlines processes instead of overly complicating them needs to be an important consideration for brands as we enter this new AI-first era.

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For example, offering chatbots is indeed cool (and effective). Yet there are more backend processes that need to be implemented in order to see that massively increased ROI. Large chat operations need to have workforce optimization systems already in place. That’s why Helpshift has really focused on ramping up workflow management and workforce optimization this past year.

When the right agent gets the right issue from the get-go, everyone is happier.

This is the primary reason that we introduced Queues in 2017, a feature that enables real-time routing of incoming chats to agents based on skill, availability and customer priority as well as backlog and overflow management. Queues allows companies to automatically segment issues based on type, language, region, customer lifetime value, etc. Once issues are routed to the appropriate queue, backlog management kicks in along with automated replies that allow for true SLA management, and higher CSAT in the process. It’s these agent-efficiency tools running in the background that empower features like customer-facing chatbots to shine.

In many ways 2017 was all about agent efficiency—but 2018 will really put supervisors in the limelight.

The next step is towards service excellence is for supervisors to have more automation and real time data at their disposal to effectively manage their teams, which is why we are currently rolling out Real Time Operations to do just that.

As automation and AI make up a bigger piece of the pie, we’re going to see supervisors with a lot more bandwidth to help their teams excel and drive new levels of customer satisfaction. Helpshift is helping drive that shift by introducing AI in all aspects of customer service workflows to reach the highest levels of automation, agent engagement, and of course—customer loyalty.

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