Even before the pandemic, it was clear that automation was taking over customer support systems. Now with customer behavior having been changed forever, automation, AI, and data are the driving forces behind a customer experience that demands personalization and fast “human” responses to specific questions—while businesses demand an increasingly intelligent understanding of their customers and growth opportunities.
Automate customer support using bots
The essential technology here has become the chatbot, a manifestation of AI (artificial intelligence) and NLP (natural language processing) designed to be interacted with as if it were human. Chatbots are able to answer specific questions via a mixture of programmable rules and machine learning, the end result being a customer experience that feels real and an operational cost far lower that providing a support team of human agents.
There can be some hesitation when it comes to utilizing chatbots for customer support. For example, having been conditioned by poor past (and usually phone-based) experiences, many people want to be taken straight to a human interlocutor and don’t trust the thought of any kind of automated experience. This is fair enough—hours on the phone going through confusing options only to be disconnected after being on hold for two hours is enough for anyone to foster a lifelong hatred of machines.
But things have changed. Why is now the right time to scale customer support for your business using the power of chatbots? And what do you need to know to get started?
Why use AI chatbots for customer support?
Customer service chatbots work
The technology available now means that features like AI and NLP come out of the box and are supported by an intuitive interface that doesn’t require specialist knowledge to put in place.
While chatbots do require good inputs and some time to set up to be successful, the end result now is a truly personal experience. It is absolutely reasonable to expect a bot to feel human and confidently lead customer interactions to the right answers with minimal friction.
It seems counterintuitive, but chatbots can even provide an even more personalized experience than humans, because they can be integrated with a CRM and are able to corral data about previous interactions in ways that individual humans can’t. This can turn day-to-day inquiries into upsell opportunities realized via automated transactions, and strengthen brand loyalty—with bots on-hand 24/7 able to deliver personalized experiences the worry over stressful phone calls are long gone.
Scaling your customer service abilities
Chatbots are not a passive part of your website or platform—they should be active, and since they are always on, you can offer genuine 24/7 customer support.
By “active” we mean that they are an opportunity to personalize user experience. Chatbots can understand where users came from and how they’ve been interacted with before. Users do not expect each website visit to be static anymore, and if you’re not looking to personalize customer experience, then it’s likely you will fall behind competitors.
The way to do this in relation to customer service is to use bots, while keeping specialist agents to orchestrate bot behavior, manage workflows and solve complex issues that can’t be dealt with via automation.
Integrate with CRM and other data sources
While it’s possible for human agents to utilize external data sources like a CRM in support conversations, it’s often difficult to leverage. Chatbots learn as they are used and can be integrated with sales and marketing technologies, which means the data collected by your business can be leveraged more efficiently.
Implementing your customer support bots
Use case—setting up a basic decisions tree
- Effort required: 1-2 hours
- Technical expertise: None required
- Resources needed: Any Instabot subscription
- Ideal for 5-20 FAQs/Support topics
- Accuracy: 100%
Instabot comes with templates allowing new users to set up effective bots in a short space of time. Using the customer support template you can edit a simple series of FAQs across multiple topics—no AI or NLP needed here, instead you can use the expertise of your customer services and sales teams to determine the most important and relevant information needed by users of your product.
Decision trees like this are usually the place to start when scaling and automating customer services, although they only really scratch at the surface of what can be done. Funneling customer queries towards a knowledge base can work well for some journeys, but if customer experience is the bedrock of your business, it's worth exploring more specialized functionality.
Scaling customer service through automated solutions will involve some technical implementation, but how technical can you go?
NLP is what allows bots to sound human. By categorizing the meaning behind similar strings of words and phrases, bots come to be able to understand what a user is looking for, and are therefore able to follow up with appropriate written responses.
Getting started with NLP needn’t be complicated, but if you really want to leverage it, it can be worth dedicating time and resources to training your bot. For some businesses, this is a months-long, six-figure project—but there are easier ways. Using Instabot’s hybrid bot model, those with limited technical knowledge will be able to set up bots starting out as basic decision trees and layer NLP gradually, as more conversations are followed and closed successfully. This means existing customer support agents can lead initial setup as your solution becomes more complex (as well as more effective).
Combining bots with expert agents for the best customer experience
The fact that computers easily beat humans at the most complex games we can play hasn’t rendered those games obsolete. Instead, we’ve found new ways of understanding them, making them more interesting than ever—AI has made us better than before.
The same can be said of chatbots and automated customer experiences. Chatbots aren’t a way to replace humans. They’re a way to provide better experiences than ever. Scaling customer support with bots means optimizing support, and saving time. If you’d like to learn more about how to scale your customer support options with chatbots, find out more about Instabot today.