Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are regularly challenged to compete with enterprises that have deeper pockets, larger contact centers and often more options to serve their customers. By embracing chatbots, they can improve their customer experience and compete head-on with large enterprises.
Chatbots are showing tremendous promise for companies of all sizes—and particularly SMBs who can use them to expand their customer service without requiring new contact center agents.
How Chatbots Can Improve Your Business
Already, 33% of SMBs (100-1,000 employees) are using chatbots, and another 44% plan to use them by the end of 2019, according to Nemertes 2018-19 Digital Customer Experience research study of 697 companies.
Companies are finding benefits with chatbots in the following ways:
Performing basic question-and-answer functions when online customers start a webchat. These include overnight mailing addresses, product information, links to knowledge bases and physical location hours. Customers get their information faster – via their preferred device – and the company doesn’t need to rely on more costly employees to answer basic questions.
Addressing more complex, customer-specific inquiries. These include looking up account balances, linking to extended warranty terms and scheduling service calls. The chatbot asks for information to confirm the customer’s identity and then accesses the appropriate database, knowledgebase or apps to complete the request.
Delivering scripted information to ensure the company is in compliance with government or corporate rules and regulations. By directing a customer to a chatbot, companies can ensure there is no human error that may result in a missed script, protecting the company from potential liabilities.
Making recommendations. By asking customers a few questions, the chatbot can make product or service recommendations—increasing sales. For example, while making a hotel reservation, the app can ask the customer for plans or preferences to make the experience more enjoyable and efficient. Questions might include specifics to improve the quality of the stay, such as: Do you want extra pillows? What type of bottled water do you want in your room? Do you have a low- or high-floor preference? Or, they can be areas for upsell: If you’re arriving early or leaving late, would you like an extended stay for an extra fee? Can we have a meal ready for your arrival? Would you like to make a spa or restaurant reservation? No human intervention is required for this interaction that helps customers fine-tune their stay, and potentially spend more money. Further, analytics tools can track the room and activity preferences, and make proactive recommendations in the future.
Assisting human agents. Chatbots also can listen to conversations between agents and customers, offering real-time suggestions on areas of upsell. Or, if a customer is becoming upset, the chatbot can summon a supervisor to join the call.
Making Chatbots a Reality
All of these examples – and numerous others – allow SMBs to serve customers over webchat or mobile channels, 24 hours a day, without human intervention. Of course, if the customer or chatbot get stuck, the chatbot can escalate the call to a live agent.
Business benefits include higher customer experience ratings because customers get what they want when they want it; reduction in costs by delivering service without paying for new employees (there are costs associated with the chatbot license, as well as acquiring the training data or developing a knowledge base); and increased revenue by more effectively interacting with the customer and helping them make decisions that result in the best customer experience.