As customers demand more personalized, authentic interactions with the brands they buy from, customer service has emerged as a way for brands to distinguish their services and products in competitive industries. While customer service agents used to be seen as mere troubleshooters, they are now playing an important role in representing the brand’s values and improving customer loyalty. The emergence of chatbots is taking the customer service and marketing world by storm, allowing brands to deploy artificial intelligence and deep learning to cut costs, optimize agent efficiency, and deliver top customer service.
Chat has been used to effectively deliver customer service for some years now — proactive click-to-chat, in which live agents initiate conversations with users on brand websites, has helped chat become the third most preferred channel for customers, according to Teleperformance’s Customer Experience Lab research.
Automated bots also became quite popular in customer service, but as they can only handle simple requests, and cannot deliver personalized, human interactions, they were always a stepping stone on the way to something better. Now, artificial intelligence-powered bots can take over for live agents, freeing them up from repetitive tasks, and giving them more time to focus on complicated requests and troubleshooting.
Chatbots use deep learning to look at customer information and history and develop their natural language processing (NLP) — a tool that allows the bot to draw conclusions about the intent behind questions — as they absorb more information in their interactions. In this sense, they are “thinking” like humans, but the interaction can always be turned over to a real agent when the situation becomes too complex. Having products in place to handle that transfer with ease will be key to chat bots’ success in the customer service realm.
Many brands are turning to messaging apps to place their bots where the customers are. These messaging platforms, when used optimally, can be integrated with customer histories and analytics tools, and offer real-time alerts and information about promotions and products. Facebook Messenger™ has been one of the pioneers of chatbots in this sense, integrating them into the platform in April 2016. This way, Facebook™ users can use the bots to search for information online or converse with companies’ customer service agents. For example, one major company created a bot for Facebook Messenger™ that connects customers to information about their account as well as offering customer service support within the app.
We have yet to see just how chatbots will take customer service to the next level, but what is certain is that brands will be doing all that they can to make the most of the emergence of technology with unprecedented abilities to better connect people with the services and products they need.