7 ways AI-enabled chatbots are transforming the customer experience landscape

AI-enabled bots are set to transform the customer experience in 2018. The reason is simple: customers want to engage with your organization on their terms, and they expect an immediate, personalized response – AI customer service agents are capable of delivering this experience.

However, there's still a widespread misconception that human agents offer a better experience than bots, and that humans prefer dealing with humans. But, that's simply not true.

First, Millennials and Generation Z (born after the mid-1990's till the early 2000s) are fast becoming the most economically active segment of the population. They are raised digital, and most comfortable transacting via messaging - more than two billion messages are exchanged between people and companies every month. When last did you see a Gen Zer use a mobile device to make a call?

Secondly, human-to-human exchanges are open and limited to text inputs. But AI-powered bots can scale and apply knowledge much faster than a human; as its algorithms improve and it learns. According to a recent Forrester study, a chatbot resolved a customer's insurance claim in 3 seconds and with no paperwork! Isn't that the kind of service you long for? Human agents, on the other hand, need to be trained, are slower to access information, and respond inconsistently.

Here are 7 ways AI-enabled chatbots are transforming the customer experience landscape in 2018.

1. No Wait Time

Customers don't like waiting for help. Waiting leads to frustration and frustration leads to churn. But, it doesn’t make financial sense to employ an army of agents waiting to respond to incoming chat instantaneously.

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However, adding AI-enabled chatbots to your customer service team can help ensure customers receive the instant response they expect. When an interaction requires human intervention, bots supported by "escape hatches," can seamlessly transfer communications to a human agent.

2. Enhance agent and customer experiences

Chatbots can support human agents by helping them find information, obtain guidance, and personalize interactions. Agents assisted by chatbots are able to handle more chat sessions, making your customer service and sales teams more productive. As a side note, increased exposure to chatbots now will prepare agents and customers for the next wave of AI-led experiences - a virtual conversational computer entity.

3. Gain insight into customer friction points

Interactions with chatbots can provide deeper insight into a customer’s journey; the frustration points, reaction to interactions with agents, the language, tone, and use of emojis by a customer, and individual preferences. Chatbots can even scan for keywords or other interactions that can suggest items such as sending to a human agent, manager, or offer additional sales opportunities. In the long run, this will help your customer service team understand how best to engage with customers on a personal level.

4. Quicker issue resolution

Bots can respond immediately. With advances in AI and Machine Learning (ML), and as its algorithms improve and it learns, a bot can scale and apply knowledge much faster and more consistently than a human. Chatbots can also collect information about a customer and issue in real-time, quickly arming themselves with the data they need to resolve an issue efficiently. As mentioned before, human agents need training, respond inconsistently and need to be motivated to care about the customer.

5. Chatbots personalize customer service

The next generation of consumers will expect hyper-personalization. Chatbots can quickly collect, access and analyze customer data, using it to customize interactions with customers across various channels. Human agents on the other hand often operate in silos, with different agents handling different communication channels - social media agents vs. website or online interactions.

6. Better self-service

Self-service has become a part of our everyday lives but often kiosk-based services are limited by their inability to respond to customer queries. How often have you tried checking at a self-service kiosk in the airport, only to end up dealing with a check-in agent? Now, consider a DMV or hospital setting where admissions are more complicated. Customer service agents are even more likely to be inundated with queries – something that is frustrating for both agent and customers. However, when layered with an AI-enabled chatbot, self-service kiosks in hospitals, retail outlets, and government organizations become customer service agents in their own right. Able to interact with customers and answers time-consuming administrative queries, thereby reducing wait times and improving overall customer satisfaction.

7. Cost optimization

Chatbots present opportunities to optimize rather than simplify costs. For instance, instead of applying cost savings associated with chatbots straight to the bottom line, some organizations are bringing offshore agents back onshore. In these organizations, AI-enabled bots are the front-line of customer service. While skilled agents, hired locally, are standing by to handle more complex service interactions. Because the transition from chatbot to agent happens seamlessly in the text-based environment, customers are unaware of the switch from a bot to a human.

When integrated with your customer sales and service operations, AI-enabled bots, allow human agents to work faster, solve more complex problems and create better customer experiences. In fact, you may not even be aware that you're already interacting with bots, or that your best customer experience involved an AI-enabled customer service agent – and that's the way it should be.