A key element of most businesses is customer service. You can be offering the best products or services but if they are not accompanied by a pleasant, useful and efficient customer service experience, it’s irrelevant.
Turning your customers into brand ambassadors and avoiding bad reviews and ratings is largely dependent on the capacity and quality of your customer service. Chatbots and interactive voice response (IVR) can play a key role in improving this service.
What are chatbots and IVR?
A chatbot (or conversational bot) is a bot that can communicate with users via text messages. These bots use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems to be able to answer different questions via a messaging platform (Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, WhatsApp, etc.).
Chatbots are programmed to interact completely autonomously, without the need for human input, and can help resolve customer queries using your company’s available information and resources, for example FAQs.
Similarly, an Interactive Voice Response (or IVR) system is a technology that interacts with customers through a configurable voice conversation, in real time. Instead of using text messages, the IVR system provides voiced options and the customer presses a key to choose the one they want. The telephone keypad then sends a DTMF tone to the system, which then selects the next action based on the user’s response.
Advantages of chatbots and IVR systems in customer service
Now that we know what both these systems are, let’s investigate the reasons why they are revolutionising customer services (in addition to the other services where they are already widely used, such as in call centres, logistics and marketing).
Chatbots offer immediate solutions
A chatbot that has access to the right company information, FAQs, etc., will be able to answer certain questions immediately. Not only that, depending on the type of business, the bot can even perform certain actions autonomously, such as updating the customer’s payment details or managing subscription options. This type of support, when response speed is more important than ever to shoppers, is vital.
24/7 customer service
No matter the time or day, your customer service will always be available to answer questions and provide information to your customers. Even if the bot or IVR system is unable to resolve the customer’s request itself, it will be able to provide the customer with contact details so that they can then go on to speak to the relevant person or department.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is a feature that can prevent annoyance and frustration for customers who call repeatedly but can’t get through to anyone. And it does all this while keeping costs down by not needing to hire additional customer service staff.
Gathering of customer and leads data
Automated customer service systems go beyond merely the service and response to users. All conversations, questions, requests and complaints are recorded, making it possible to analyse the information statistically and draw conclusions.
To name a few examples: questions that are detected very frequently can be used to improve the information you provide about a product, or the FAQs. If the same question keeps being asked, it is an indication that something in the sales process needs to be reviewed to improve the service. You can even detect new business opportunities by analysing customer concerns.
Additionally, if users who are not customers (i.e. they are not in your database and you do not have their contact information) interact with the bot, they will no longer be a simple visitor to your website but will instead become a ‘lead.’ You will then know what type of product they are interested in, or what their needs are.
Customer service will improve over time
These automated customer services use both artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand and improve the ability to help users. It is possible to identify which types of responses are most useful so that these can then be used more frequently, thus improving the customer experience.
In addition, based on the information available, responses to customers can be personalised based on their purchase history, retail sector, etc. For example, you can offer the customer a different menu of options according to a product or service they have already purchased, their location or any other parameter you may have identified.
Better brand experience
Bots and IVR systems are fully customisable. You can therefore define the tone, the voice, the type of language, the level of humour or seriousness, etc. In other words, you can define 100% of the ‘image’ that these systems will portray, helping to establish a consistent brand image that does not appear robotic, even if the user knows they are interacting with a machine.
Improved user satisfaction
It can be concluded that all of the above results in better customer service, faster and constantly accessible. It keeps costs down while offering a service that, thanks to today’s technology, provides a truly high level of quality.
Do I need to incorporate these technologies into my customer service?
These technologies can help you improve your customer service on many levels, whatever your business. There are some types of business where these types of technologies can be particularly helpful. These are:
- if your business has a global customer base (with customer service in different languages).
- if you offer multi-platform customer service (web, apps, social media, etc.).
- if you need to offer 24/7 service but costs do not allow you to hire the necessary staff
- if you need to scale up your customer service without your costs skyrocketing