Advisor in Customer Experience and Service Operations

Chatbots – the helper you can’t do without

The benefits of using chatbots to automate enquiries, direct customers, or deal with complex enquiries

Without a doubt, the expansion in self-service and digital channels has been one of the defining factors of the COVID era. Organisations have moved fast to deliver new channels and to provide solutions that enable customers to engage with them through digital platforms in increasing numbers. Business Insider estimates that the global chatbot market size is projected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2021 to $9.4 billion by 2024.

The Salesforce State of Service, 4th edition revealed that 38% of decision-makers indicate their organisations use chatbots, up by 76% from 2018.

The 2021 Australian Contact Centre Benchmarking Report stated that 61% of organisations surveyed planned to implement or upgrade their chatbot capability.

Chatbots are a high priority in the contact centre industry, with almost two-thirds of respondents stating that their organisation plans to implement or upgrade over the next 18 months.

You are probably using chatbots now and may not even realise it. Whether the simple FAQ on a website (the most basic type of chatbot) or Alexi or Siri (voice-driven bots), chatbots are now becoming mainstay elements in our everyday lives. Chatbots – in all their forms – are here to stay.

So how are chatbots being used, and how could you investigate the benefits for your organisation?

Automate simple enquiries

Chatbots provide a scalable and cost-effective method of service delivery and have the benefit of providing service 24/7. Most are being used to automate simple enquiries, such as FAQs. As always, a good design provides easy access to an agent, as and when required, and certainly for more complex enquiries.

Directing demand to the right places or skill sets

Some chatbots are simply used as a gateway, qualifying the customer needs so they can be directed to the right place. Others include customer verification, identifying the customer so that the agent can commence with a conversation without needing to complete an ID process, streamlining the time required for each interaction.

More sophisticated solutions identify and segment your customer base, allowing you to provide priority service to high-value customers or potential sales leads.

Supporting your team

Don’t forget that many tools can be used to guide your agent team through complex issues. There has been an increase in tools available to help your agent by providing the right information at the right time, taking over administrative tasks, such as closing a case.

Complex enquiries

More sophisticated solutions combine AI and/or natural speech recognition, allowing chatbots to learn and expand the services they provide by supporting them to manage increasingly complex enquiries. The key to being able to manage these interactions is not only in the ability of chatbots to deal with complex issues but to communicate with customers in natural language, understanding intent, and responding appropriately.

There is even an increased focus on how chatbots can support empathetic customer engagements but, while they are trained to understand intent, this may be some way into the future.

If you are starting your chatbot journey, it is important to keep in mind 3 key areas:

  1. Make sure you understand what your customer wants and how they interact with you
  2. Start small and build your capability, testing and evolving
  3. Work with a partner who can guide you through the journey – no need to reinvent the wheel