A chatbot is a computer software program, typically driven by artificial intelligence (AI), which allows a customer to communicate with a company or brand in a text format that simulates instant messaging between humans. Chatbots are found on company websites as well as in mobile applications and social media messaging apps. Chatbot technology has advanced considerably in recent years thanks to improved AI and machine-learning capabilities, and today’s chatbots are a critical component to companies’ customer-service operations.

Why Chatbots Matter in Customer Service?

Chatbots have been around for a while, but as advances in AI have sped up in recent years, they’ve become much more sophisticated and versatile, particularly for use in customer service. Chatbots can realistically simulate human conversation via text or audio, creating a rapport between a brand and a customer that allows problems to be solved and questions answered in a way that’s intuitive for the customer. 

Chatbots aren’t designed to “fool” customers into thinking they’re talking to a human. They’re typically deployed in a transparent way that makes it clear to the customer they’re talking to a bot, but also creates a natural rhythm of conversation to lead the customer through a streamlined channel of information efficiently. For basic customer inquiries, chatbots can provide answers and information much quicker than a human representative in a phone queue or an email exchange.

Chatbots are also utterly scalable. Unlike phone and email queues, they’re not dependent on a human customer service rep’s availability, so there’s no cap to the number of queries that can be answered simultaneously. When a highly anticipated retail item is released or a major sale occurs and customer service inquiries spike, there’s no discernable difference to customers in terms of how quickly they get answers from a chatbot. This is crucial, in a market where customers expect two opposing things at once: highly personalized service and instant service.

Although there are obvious limitations to the conversational skill of chatbots, under certain conditions, they surpass live human agents in a few crucial ways. They’re not distractible, which means they don’t get emotionally overwhelmed or adversely affected by stress. They therefore respond consistently and in an even, polite and straightforward manner regardless of the nature of the conversation.

The 5 Main Benefits of Chatbots

  1. No wait time. Customers don’t have to wait on hold to speak to a customer service rep, so there’s less of a frustration factor.
  2. Minimized agent transfers. Rules driven chatbots classify issues correctly the first time and automatically route them to the correct agent.
  3. Quicker issue resolution. Even when a conversation is passed along to a live agent, the chatbot has captured all relevant information in advance so the agent can solve the problem or answer questions more rapidly.
  4. Improved self-service. Chatbots direct customers to resources so they can help themselves. 
  5. Cost optimization. Chatbots enable reduced manpower, automation of end-to-end customer service processes. and the ability to scale infinitely.

Some Important Customer Service Stats About Chatbots

  • 37% of customers say they would prefer to get immediate assistance from a chatbot over waiting just three minutes for a human.
  • 55% of customers say they would welcome the idea of chatbots in the customer service process.
  • 73% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.
  • 48% of consumers have interacted with a chatbot in the past year for customer service inquiries.
  • 65% of millennials want chatbots involved in the customer service process.

How Helpshift Supports Customer Service Chatbots

Chatbots can typically answer a high percentage of basic customer service questions. But there will always be questions that chatbots aren’t equipped to answer, which is why chatbotswork best in conjunction with live agents.  A smart chatbot knows when to connect the customer to an agent, and with Helpshift, the transition is seamless within a messaging interface. The customer does not have to be “transferred” to another line or asked to make a format switch in order to transition to talking to a live human.

In the customer journey, most interactions facilitated by Helpshift begin with a human-chatbot conversation. The bot collects basic information much faster than a human could, and can make instant decisions based on this information. For example, a customer could access shipping information via chatbot without providing a tracking number. By querying for a few basic clues (name, product purchased, date purchased), the chatbot can locate the record and supply the missing data.

Helpshift chatbots are most often used in automating:

  1. Information collection
  2. Guided issue filing
  3. Self-service suggestions
  4. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) collection

Additional information About Chatbots