Unfortunately, as hard as you might try or as much as you might wish you could, you simply can’t be there for your customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So what’s a business owner to do? 

Chatbots might be the answer for improving customer experience.

Chatbots, really?

Now, we know what you might be thinking — chatbots are obnoxious and disingenuous, right? If you spend a lot of time on social media, you might associate bots with fake accounts that are programmed to spam people with content, leave aggressive comments, or create problems in other ways. There’s no way that these digital personalities driven by artificial intelligence can actually be helpful, can they?

The ChatBot’s Purpose

But actually, they can be. In fact, that was the intended purpose of a bot—they were meant to engage with real users in an online setting and carry out basic tasks that another real user is too busy to handle themselves.

For many millennials, their first interaction with a bot was very likely SmarterChild in the late ‘90s. SmarterChild was a bot account on AOL Instant Messenger that provided homework assistance for kids who could ask it questions. SmarterChild was programmed to search the internet for resources that answered these questions and provide a link in the chat. If you asked SmarterChild, “What do you know about the Great Depression?” it would provide links to reliable sources you could use for your homework.

As you can probably see, this sort of technological advancement offers a lot of potential for improving your customer service. If you have artificial intelligence holding real-life conversations with people in real time, then you don’t have to worry about doing that yourself (or hiring someone to do it). This means you have customer assistance available around the clock, even if a customer has a problem or question outside regular business hours. It’s like you have an overnight answering service online to answer questions at 1:00AM.

Chatbots and Customer Service

What are some uses a chatbot can serve for a better customer experience?

  • Book an appointment: There’s no more need for a user to call the office and speak to somebody over the phone just to pick a date/time slot for them to come to your office.
  • Accept payment for an invoice: You’re never going to say no to receiving money that’s owed to you, right? A chatbot can let a user know how much they owe and can take their credit card information to run an automated collection.
  • Add contact info to a mailing list: If you have somebody who is interested in staying in the loop about your business, a chatbot is able to get their name, email address, and phone number so you can send them more info as it becomes available.
  • Provide directions: If somebody doesn’t know where your office is located, the bot can provide directions and even let them know what current traffic conditions are.
  • Accept a complaint: If a customer has a problem, allowing a chatbot to accept their feedback lets one of your employees off the hook of dealing with it. Just make sure you personally address the complaint the bot has collected so that your customers don’t feel they were shouting into cyberspace.

Chatbot Limits

Although a bot can’t be programmed to handle every need a customer has, they are still able to take messages so your customer can expect to hear back from a real-life member of staff at a later time (that is, during business hours). The bot can even collect pertinent information from the customer so there’s no need to go through all of that when the human member of your team reaches out. Your employee already has that pertinent information right in front of them!

Chatbots can be programmed to have your brand’s distinct brand voice and engage with your customers in a realistic way. You also don’t have to worry about them losing their patience with an unreasonable or rude customer.

Don’t forget that chatbots aren’t meant to replace customer experience with a real-life member of your team. Chatbots can handle menial interactions and keep customers happy by providing assistance 24 hours a day, but they simply can’t be hired to solve every problem—plus your customers expect to have assistance from a real member of staff when they have a serious problem. Make sure you have a way of monitoring your chatbot conversations, either in real time or after the fact, and you follow up with every customer who wasn’t fully satisfied by the interaction.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate technology like chatbots into your business to improve the way you operate, our team at Gryphon Consulting would be proud to walk you through all the options that are out there. Reach out to us today by 301-789-1029.