Sep 17, 2020 8:15:00 AM
Ever had a frustrating experience with customer service? Microsoft's Global State of Customer Service Report 2019 highlights two events as the most frustrating aspects of a poor service experience:
lack of knowledge or inability of the service representative to resolve a problem, and the fact that the same information must be repeated several times.
Because we live in an instant economy, customers expect their problems to be resolved quickly, easily and around the clock. Byebye, waiting times - hello, self-service! Around 90% of the Microsoft Report customers surveyed expect a self-service option and around ⅔ use it as their first point of contact to resolve their query. Chatbots are one possibility of meeting and overcoming these challenges. But what skills must they have to make customers really happy?
Just like your support team, a chatbot has to pay full attention to the customers. But what does that mean for a machine that can simultaneously solve hundreds of customer queries? Just like a human being, it must listen - or rather read along - carefully and take context into account. Above all, this means being integrated with an CRM to access relevant customer data. An example: The amount of shipping costs depends on many different factors, such as the purchase value, the delivery address and whether the customer has a premium membership or not. A chatbot can resolve a question about the amount of shipping costs in seconds, no matter if the customer is logged in or not. If the chatbot takes into account the language, the content of the shopping cart and then retrieves the membership status, an exact and satisfying answer can be given.
In addition, understanding does not only mean taking up the given information in its context, but also actively and specifically asking questions. Similar to a phone call, a chatbot conversation needs to be just as interactive in order to get to the bottom of the customer's problem and to be able to give a satisfactory answer. Precise, personal, quick and easy to use are the key attributes of the chatbot, which offer customers significant added value compared to e.g. an FAQ. It is well known that brevity is the spice of life. 😉
Understanding is a first step that belongs to a greater ability of the chatbot: personalisation. The Northridge Group's State of Customer Service Experience 2019 Report shows that customers expect a personalised service experience, which provides a competitive advantage. Seamless integration with CRM is becoming increasingly important here, as it allows logged-in customers to be addressed directly with their name - just like in a personal conversation. Small measure, big effect: The personal approach creates trust and strengthens customer loyalty in the long term.
If, for example, a customer wants to check the status of their delivery after a successful order, APIs from third-party providers, such as parcelLab, can be integrated into the chatbot system, thus providing holistic customer service at all stages of the user journey. Again, the effectiveness of the context comes into play: If the customer is logged in, one knows their order history, surfing behaviour, search queries, and much more, which is helpful in tailoring the service of the chat offer exactly to the customer. With the help of the right integrations, the bot receives the relevant information at a glance and can act accordingly.
That sounds quite simple, because a chatbot is automatically available around the clock on the website or in the app. But it also entails two more things:
Sometimes it is necessary to hand over a chatbot conversation to a service agent to solve a problem. Not every request can or should be fully automated. There are critical customer issues that require human empathy and presence. Here, the support team should by no means hide behind a chatbot, but take care of the customer personally. The chatbot can be programmed in such a context-sensitive way that it hands it over to an employee as soon as a sensitive issue arises.
To meet customer expectations, the handover has to be seamless. Possible options are the transition to a live chat, the in-app transfer of the chat in an instant messenger (e.g. Facebook and WhatsApp) and forwarding by call. If no employee is available at the moment of the request (e.g. as it comes in outside of business hours), an e-mail can be sent via a contact form directly from the chatbot conversation. The advantage here is that the service employee has insight into the chat history and can therefore start directly with the problem solution. In addition, the chatbot configuration can be so precise that the customer inquiry will be forwarded to the right contact person. Another advantage of the chat offer is that it can be located wherever the customer is, thanks to integrations. In addition to the website and app, preferred channels such as Whatsapp, Facebook or other messenger services can be served.
Automated answers of the chatbot are ultimately a question of the right routine, which leads to the solution of the customer inquiry. With the correct configuration and integration of CRM and other third party APIs, a chatbot is a powerful tool. One that is used at the front line of a company as a central and first point of contact, thus freeing up your support team’s time. Ideally, the chatbot acts as a one-stop shop, allowing your support team to focus on the things that really matter and thus maintain customer relationships.
Repetitive requests such as changes to customer data, a new delivery or e-mail address, a current tracking query, or the provision of the returns slip can be resolved in no time at all - without the need to involve a service representative. For more complex issues, chatbot routines should include a clear definition of escalation strategies to ensure that conversations are seamlessly routed to the right support agent. Handovers using routines ensure that all relevant information is provided, leading to simple and fast ticket processing.
With the right set of skills, a chatbot successfully helps your customers to solve repetitive problems and creates space for your support team to devote their time and empathy to more complex requests. According to The Northridge Group’s report, excellent customer service is one of the three most important factors driving customer buying behaviour. A well-built bot that is used sensibly has a lasting effect on the customer service experience.
Watch our webinar recording (in German) on how chatbots make customers happy to learn more:
Jürgen is the CTO and Co-Founder of Solvemate. Before founding Solvemate, Jürgen worked as a developer and coach in e-commerce and is now a partner at the consultancy etribes in addition to his work at Solvemate.