If you’ve reached out for customer service in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed some changes. The face and voice of many service departments are shifting away from human-to-human contact.
While robots haven’t completely taken over yet, chatbots, interactive voice response systems, and self-service portals are becoming the norm.
Conversations and interactions with these tools help gather and verify your information and provide answers to simple questions. If something more complex comes up, the artificial intelligence behind chatbots and IVRs recognizes you need human assistance. You’re usually routed to a live agent, or a ticket is created for a callback.
Chatbots embedded in websites and apps and interactive phone routing systems fall under the umbrella of conversational AI. So do more sophisticated online FAQ and service portals that rely on your input to make predictions and suggestions. As more businesses implement tools like these, interactions between organizations and people will rapidly evolve. Below are some of the benefits companies can gain from this technology.
1. Fill In Staffing and Service Gaps
It’s four in the morning, but some of your customers need help with their questions. They’re missing packages that were marked as delivered or never received notices about their latest invoices. While businesses can staff customer service departments 24/7, many don’t find it to be a cost-effective strategy. Owners sometimes want to keep operations in-house, or there isn’t enough historical call volume to justify overnight staffing.
Companies can still address early bird or overnight requests by incorporating conversational AI into a website, app, or IVR. For instance, a customer who goes to the help or support section of a website will see a chat option. After the person enters their information and question, a chatbot will let them know their invoice amount. Chatbots that access customers’ accounts can send links or bill statements through email or an app.
Some are set up to check shipping carriers’ tracking sites and confirm expected delivery dates. Even though issuing refunds and filing claims require human intervention, chatbots can start the process. Customers get most of the answers they need and feel confident that progress is being made. They don’t have to wait or simmer in frustration until the office opens up. Chatbots and IVRs can also help clients during peak service periods or staffing shortages, reducing wait times.
2. Make Real-Time Personalized Recommendations
Companies that drive sales through mobile apps are already ahead of the game in terms of AI-driven personalized recommendations. Examples include specialty coffee chains, internet and phone service providers, and big-box retailers. Customers create online profiles tied to a loyalty rewards program or their account information. As consumers make purchases or browse information, artificial intelligence keeps track of their behaviors in the background.
Conversational technology can provide personalized product or service suggestions based on customer behaviors. Using machine learning, AI can match a customer’s words and past actions with available solutions. Perhaps someone asks how they can lower their internet bill, and their account history shows they can get by with lower speeds. A chatbot built into an app might suggest new plans with lower prices and speeds the customer hasn’t seen yet.
Personalized experiences and recommendations like these can reduce churn and help a business make sales. Since AI reaches customers in real time, opportunities to upsell and stimulate repeat purchases increase. A company isn’t limited to in-person interactions or more costly methods like direct mail. Store and service reps can also concentrate on immediate tasks. They’ll avoid conversations that are inappropriate for a customer’s situation or conduct.
3. Improve Employee Experiences
Conversational AI not only impacts the way companies deliver customer service, but also employee or internal service. The technology is capable of automating processes and paperwork related to onboarding and routine tasks. Many HR departments consist of a small number of people who support hundreds or thousands of employees. When staff members have to wait to get a response from human resources, it creates a less than ideal experience.
Chatbots help employees get answers to basic questions faster. Verifying items such as the next pay period, direct deposit information, and insurance coverage can be done through chatbots. Conversational technology also directs staff to self-service portals containing detailed information on benefits and company policies. If employees need to make changes to their benefits, they can receive guided assistance through AI-driven conversations.
In terms of employees’ day-to-day responsibilities, chatbots and automation help redirect their work. Instead of getting bombarded with repetitive requests, staff are free to focus on more complex tasks. For example, an HR rep can ask a chatbot for a list of recent new hires. The chatbot pulls up a list, showing where each person is in the onboarding process. Technology takes care of tracking paperwork and basic training compliance, including follow-up.
4. Overcome Language Barriers
Globalization and technology mean more goods and services can reach customers all over the world. But some of the effects of globalization require overcoming language and cultural barriers with clients from different markets. In addition, some of these customers may have relocated and are still learning new cultural and linguistic norms.
As a result, businesses can’t assume that an entire customer base is comfortable speaking in a country’s native language. Chatbots and conversational AI have built-in support for multiple languages and can adjust to each client’s preferences. With a single click, customers can switch the conversation to a language in which they’re fluent.
The use of conversational tech among businesses is expected to keep growing as positive response and reception also increase. Currently, 40% of internet users prefer interacting with chatbots over virtual agents. Consumers like the ability to get quick answers to simple questions and appreciate not having to repeat their information. As AI becomes more sophisticated, companies will increasingly embrace the many advantages it brings.