• Callum Mcleod

Chatbots: All You Need to Know

Is your customer service struggling to keep up with increased demand? Do you need to free up your agents' time? Or are you just trying to keep up with our new digital world?


If you answered yes to any of those questions, then a chatbot could be the answer to all of your prayers!

White Robot with a technical background

Not sure what a chatbot is? Unsure if they would work for you?


We can help you with these questions. First, let’s start with:


What is a Chatbot?

In this new digital world, it’s undeniable that customers are expecting more and more. As technology continues to improve, your customers will expect your service to improve with it.


According to research, 90% of consumers rate an immediate response as important or very important when they have a customer service question, whilst 69% of consumers associate good customer experience with a quick resolution of their issues.


This is where a chatbot can come in. In short, a chatbot is an AI powered customer support channel which can be used by both B2B and B2C companies to provide quick and easy answers to customers and triage customer cases to the relevant teams.


Patchwork Robot with yellow and white robot

There is a massive spectrum of chatbots, but the two key definitions are Stateless and Stateful.


Stateless chatbots treat each interaction they have with a customer as a new conversation, falling back on their pre-programmed responses and knowledge banks.


Stateful chatbots, on the other hand, can actually learn from their past conversations, and provide better solutions to your customers.


Chatbots have been built for every possible purpose. Some notable examples include Spotify’s Music Sharing Bot, Stanford Universities Quiz Bot and, my personal favourite, Lidl’s Wine Bot.


But, let’s focus on customer service. You can use chatbots for:

  1. Answering Simple FAQs

  2. Lead Generation

  3. Social Media Messaging

  4. Triaging Customer Contacts.

More and more companies are using chatbots for their customer service, and this trend can be explained by the number of positives they can bring to a company's customer service. Chatbots can help companies provide 24/7 support across all their contact channels, as well as helping to save both their agents and customers time and helping them to save cash.


White robot looking at camera with brick background

However, chatbots aren’t without their issues. Customers are complaining about their lack of personal touch and companies are encountering issues with their bots. Also, there's quite a high initial set up cost associated with chatbots, and their limited answers still restrict them.


Even if you are fortunate enough to be a massive corporation that can invest in a true AI learning chatbot, you have to expose it to the internet to learn, which itself can cause some issues.


Famously, in 2016, Tay (Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot) went from being a friendly chatbot to a racist, anti-semitic robot in just 24 hours. Just recently, Meta’s new chatbot only took a few days to start making false statements regarding the US election and anti-semitic conspiracy theories, turning against Meta itself and calling them out for spreading fake news.


But enough with the negatives, let's talk about some of the positives!


Retro robot with an orange background


Pros of Chatbots


1) 24/7 Support


Your customers' problems aren’t confined to just 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, so your support shouldn’t be either. Unless you’re a massive international corporation, your budget will unlikely cover the need to provide round the clock support staff. This is where a chatbot can help!


With a chatbot, you can programme them with responses to your most common questions so that if a customer tries to contact your customer support outside your working hours, your chatbot can answer their questions for you.


In the event that your bot can’t help to sort out your customer's problem, it can then allow the customer to open a ticket with your customer support, which can then be opened and dealt with as soon as your agents are back to work.

White robot talking with an elderly gentleman

2) Time Saving


Another great benefit of using a chatbot is that it can save both you and your customer time!


How much time do your agents spend answering the same questions? Could their time be better spent working on other projects? As we mentioned, you can programme a chatbot with the answers to your most common FAQs, allowing you to free up your agents' time to help customers with more complex issues. This, in turn, will save your company time and money spent on manpower.


Chatbots can also save your customers time too. Think about it, what percentage of your customers are reaching out to ask a question that’s already been asked a million times before? Have they just missed it in your FAQs? Your agents can only deal with one customer at a time, meaning that they’re waiting in a long queue for a simple answer.


If you invest in a chatbot, your customers won't have to wait. Not only will the chatbot be able to deal with multiple customers at once, but your customers won’t have to wait for your agents to manually check their knowledge banks and type out responses, cutting customer wait times in half.

Blue robot with a clock for a stomach

3) Omnichannel


Let’s face it, the days of your contact agents only having to deal with phone calls and emails are over. Nowadays, your customers have a multitude of methods to contact you at their disposal, including Social Media, web chat and even text.


Customers don’t want to be forced to use one specific contact method, with all these options possible, they want the ability to contact you however they want and receive an instant response.


This is where a chatbot can come in. When properly integrated within your customer service systems, your bot can be deployed across all your contact channels, meaning that your customers can contact you however they want, whenever they want.


And what’s even better is that if your bot encounters a problem it cannot solve, it can transfer your customers to a different channel (if necessary) so that an agent can deal with their problems.


Of course, there are some cons to deploying a chatbot into your customer service as well!

White Robot on the phone

Cons of Chatbots


1) Lacks Personal Touch


Customers like human interaction. They don’t want to feel like they’re talking to an emotionless brick wall. They want to feel like the service agent they’re talking to understands their issues and can empathise with their feelings.


This is an issue with chatbots, they can only provide set responses to requests, and as such, can’t react to things like emotions and tone well. If your customer comes to you angry and frustrated about an issue and feels like they’re not receiving any empathy from your customer service, this can cause you issues.


The lack of emotion displayed by chatbots can come across as robotic and cold to your customers, which can frustrate them more.


Suppose your customers are coming to you for support, leaving without answers, and are angrier than when they started. In that case, this will significantly affect your customer satisfaction levels and lead to losing customers.

Robot and Human fingers connecting

2) Higher Costs


Although you can argue that chatbots save you money in the long term, having to spend less on staffing and man hours, there is a significant cost at the start of your chatbot journey, this is the implementation cost.


There are many different variables that can affect the cost of your chatbot. It doesn't matter if it's out of the box, bespoke, you're implementing it yourself, or you're paying a company to do it for you; it's important to note that no matter what, the initial implementation costs will be high.


It’s up to you to discern whether the costs saved in the long run will be more significant than the initial set up costs.


Whilst the main bulk of the cost when introducing a chatbot will be the initial implementation costs; you can’t forget that, as with any constantly upgrading software, there will also be maintenance costs.


Not only will you want to make sure that your chatbot offering is up to date with the latest technological trends, but you will also have to update your chatbot with any changes to your FAQs, Knowledgebase and even company data. All of which means you will have to pay someone to do the work. This could be either an employee or an external company.

Cartoon Robot walking on a stack of money

3) Limited Responses


As mentioned earlier, one significant issue with chatbots is that they can only provide the answers they are programmed with; this can certainly cause some problems!


Whilst chatbots can perfectly answer simple questions with clear answers; their limited replies mean that once a question becomes more complicated, they will struggle to provide your customer with an answer to their question. Your customer will have to be escalated to a service agent anyway. This could lead to your customer feeling like they’ve wasted their time trying to get an answer out of a chatbot, becoming frustrated and maybe even taking this anger out on your service agents.


Another issue with your chatbot's limited responses is that it may give your customers the wrong answers. Suppose a customer asks a more complicated question or uses incorrect wording by mistake. In that case, the chatbot may misunderstand the customer and provide a set answer for a different question, again leading to your customer being frustrated with your service.

Retro robots talking on a can phone

That’s all Folks!


In the famous words of Porky Pig, “That’s all folks!”


We’ve given you the information; now it’s time for you to decide! Are you starting to see the benefits of integrating a chatbot into your customer service? Or are you still not sure? If you’ve decided to implement a chatbot into your customer service but you’re not sure where to start, that’s where we can help.


Here at CX Consultants, we have over 25 years of implementation experience within the customer service and experience industry. With a track record of supporting businesses with their software implementations and maintenance, why not get in touch? And find out how we can help you today!


 

If you have any questions or want to discuss chatbot implementation or your CX strategy, get in touch, we're here to help.