By Katie Silva
NCET helps you explores business and technology.
Customer service is tough. Most of us have experienced calling a business for information and either enduring a long hold, or worse, having to deal with an automated system. We live in a time where we expect immediate results. And it’s not just the millennials who expect immediacy, although we know they get most of the flack. In a recent report by Drift, 66 percent of Baby Boomers expect 24-hour customer service.
Of course, it’s unreasonable for most businesses to pay for the labor expense of having employees on the clock at all hours to answer questions. Enter chatbots. A chatbot is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) designed to stimulate interactive human conversation by using pre-programmed user phrases and either auditory or text-based signals. In non-technical language, it’s a robot you can use to answer customer questions based on your most common business inquiries.
You may be thinking, “I have a small business. Do I really need a chatbot? And aren’t we scared the robots are going to take over the planet?” The answer is yes, you could probably benefit from a chatbot. And yes, the fear of robots enslaving the earth is a valid concern.
How Chatbots Can Help Your Business
Chatbots are helpful for answering everyday questions. Inquiries such as, “what are your business hours,” and, “where is your business located,” are just the tip of the iceberg. Take time to think of your most frequently asked questions, and compile a list. This is a great starting point for charting out how a chatbot can converse with your audience. If you’re a bit tech savvy, dive into your Google Webmaster Tools and see what common queries come up when people are searching for your business.
Don’t have a website? That’s ok! One of the easiest and most popular forms of chatbots are Facebook Messenger bots. These are created exactly like website chatbots, but live within your Facebook business page.
Another benefit is the ability to engage in multilingual conversations. While agents may only be fluent in one or two languages, there are few limits to the languages chatbots use to converse. This is especially helpful for companies with a global presence.
But What About Human Interaction?
There are limits to chatbots. Although you could pre-program hundreds of conversations, some questions are still best answered by a human. This is especially the case when you have a customer with a complaint. The best solution is a hybrid approach, where human agents are supervising the chatbot program and able to intervene when required.
Many chatbot programs have the ability to send a short email or browser notification summarizing a customer request so there is a seamless handoff between chatbot and agent.
Katie Silva is the Director of Digital Marketing and Communications for Peppermill Resorts Inc. and NCET’s co-VP of Social Media. NCET is a member-supported non-profit that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology.