Do you know what bugs me the most about customer service?

The delay that I have to endure to talk to an agent. I would learn to be patient, still, the inefficiency with which my queries are answered makes me turn red with anger. 

If you’ve had similar experiences, you know how unpleasant the ordeal is.

Recently I had quite a different experience from my normal interactions. I landed on a website to check the pricing of a mobile app development (yes, I’m working on an app idea to have a passive income). A few seconds later I saw a subtle pop-up on the right-bottom corner of the screen that looked like someone was texting me. 

The questions asked were straight-forward and the answers that I got were crisp and accurate. I assumed that it was an expert agent on the other side who made my life easier. I was wrong. 

The fascinating fact about the conversation was that it was driven by a chatbot. It was a computer program that I spoke to. And not an agent as I assumed.

The efficiency with which the conversation was processed, the swiftness with which a resolution was offered and the overall positive experience made me ponder deep about chatbots. 

Like with any other research, my first question was understating what a chatbot is.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is an artificial intelligence program. It mimics human conversations. It can be used for messaging on websites, robotic process automation in applications, or even in mobile apps. 

What it is not is a robot.

Yes. A chatbot is not a robot. It is a computer software like most applications. What makes it unique is that they are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its various subsets like machine learning, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and the likes. It is this infusion of AI that makes chatbots intelligent enough to deliver contextual information.

Not all chatbots are built alike. 

For example, nearly every visitor to an insurance website is looking to compare insurance rates and start an insurance quote. It would be incredibly time-consuming for a human to have to handle this repeated inquiry over and over again through live chat.

This creates a great opportunity for an insurance chatbot that can perfectly handle these website visitor’s inquiries for insurance quotes in real-time without them having to wait on a human who might be busy.

Alternatively, a real estate chatbot would help website visitors schedule an appointment with a real estate agent to look at homes.

These are just two examples of chatbots, there are endless opportunities for the use of chatbots. If you don’t have a website and sell primarily through social media channels, you can set up a chatbot for Facebook or Instagram too.

Chatbots can also have other capabilities built-in like connecting the website visitor with a human through live chat or over the phone in case that visitor has additional questions that only a human can answer.

By creating a workflow with your chatbot you can handle a high volume of customer inquiries, provide 24/7 service through your website, and reduce some of the time spent by humans in offering customer service and pre-sales support.

Here are some examples of businesses and industries that can benefit from chatbots:

  • Real estate chatbots that can schedule appointments with realtors to show homes
  • Insurance chatbots that can offer instant insurance quotes to website visitors
  • eCommerce chatbots that can assist with orders, shipping questions, and  eCommerce customer service
  • Financial services chatbots that can offer financial and investing information and answer account questions
  • IT services chatbots can take a load off your IT teams by providing enhanced self-service and automated workflow
  • Travel and tourism chatbots for hassle-free complicated bookings and advice to visiting places. 

These are just a few businesses and industries that can benefit from the use of chatbots. There are many more use cases where chatbots can relieve customer support teams as well as aid sales teams by handling pre-sales questions.

As you can see, there are many different use cases for chatbots.

Chatbot development has progressed in diverse ways that there are different types of chatbots. Let’s deep dive into that.

Different types of chatbots

Broadly, chatbots can be classified into two types of chatbots. 

  1. Rules-based chatbots 
  2. AI-based chatbots

Rule-based chatbots:

Rule-based chatbots are the most basic form of chatbots. They gather and respond to user queries based on the coding. Hence, they are not dynamic in nature. They take straight-forward questions that are direct and simple. The responses given are also programmed and generic in nature.

Domino’s Pizza messenger interactive chatbot is an excellent example of a rule-based chatbot. The predefined questions are set in the bot, according to customers’ preferences, it gathers the information to order the customizable pizza.

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AI-based chatbots:

AI-based chatbots go a step ahead in delivering contextual and personalized chat experience. Unlike rules-based chatbots, they have the capability to learn from routine conversations with users and expand their responsive abilities. This innate ability is created with the help of machine learning. Machine learning enables AI-based chatbots to learn from regular conversations and fine-tune their responses to users. This is why it is a good idea to have a good knowledge base software connected to the chatbot.

As a result, they are constantly evolving and better at dealing with dynamic user inputs. For instance, the same question asked by users in different languages, metaphors, or slangs can be understood by the system through pattern learning. This makes them capable of addressing a global audience without any customizations. 

The whole world has been pulling its hair back debating how chatbots will send customer executives out of jobs. Although that is far from reality, there is one thing that everybody needs to know. Why do we need chatbots?

The need for chatbots

We need chatbots not because they are smarter than humans. Because they can help automate repetitive and mundane tasks that humans should not spend so much time on. It should make work easier for all so that customers like me don’t have to be treated poorly. 

The best chatbots will certainly improve customer experience and satisfaction. Delegating basic tasks to chatbots will make your business grow faster, on an autopilot. This will allow you and your team to have more time to focus on more complex challenges.

According to the State of Chatbots Report,  37% of Americans responded that they would prefer a chatbot to get a quick answer in an emergency. While 27% of the participants said they would use a chatbot for buying basic items. The chatbot acceptance in various use cases shows it here to stay. Businesses can use it for improving customer experience, reducing support response time as well as increasing sales conversion rates.bar graph

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Here are some reasons why I feel the need for chatbots in every industry, not just customer service but beyond that. Let’s find out.

1. Quicker resolutions

Like I said before, taking too long to fetch information is poor customer service. It dampens the user experience and increases the customer churning out to a competitor. Chatbots prevent that from happening by accelerating the pace at which resolutions can be delivered. 

While rule-based chatbots can deliver canned responses instantly, AI-based chatbots can learn from patterns and respond to dynamic customer queries on the flow. 

2. Saves manual effort

Imagine a scenario where a customer approaches asking for a transaction that dates back to 5 years. A typical customer service agent will have to go on an archaeological expedition to unearth the information and deliver it. Even with the effort exerted the information exerted may not be accurate and as desired by the user. 

Chatbots can save the manual effort in searching and delivering the information. They make it easier for agents to focus on priority tasks without wasting time on redundant tasks. 

3. Accurate answers

Chatbots are computer software that can sift through your back-end applications or database to come up with accurate answers. They match customer queries with canned responses that are pre-determined for most frequently asked questions and scenarios. As a result, the accuracy of the answers is also higher, if not perfect. 

4. Seamless service

Do you know the many downsides of having a support team? 

You have to give them holidays. They needed recesses. There are mandatory national holidays. 

But, chatbots? 

They do not have any such conditions. They can work around-the-clock without any holidays or break. They also do not have downtimes unless your network decides to act cranky. 

More chatbots, more contextual conversations

From conversational commerce to proactive customer service, chatbots can turnaround digital conversations in a radical way. What is fascinating is that these are computer programs that can act according to the rules or learn from continuous patterns. 

Depending on your business need you can opt for a rules-based chatbot or an AI-based chatbot that can engage in contextual conversations with customers. Either way, chatbots can help deliver quicker resolutions, reduce manual effort, prompt accurate answers, and also offer seamless customer service without any downtime.   

John Davier
Author

Content marketing guru at MailMunch. I’m passionate about writing content that resonates with people. Live simply, give generously, stay happy.