Kurt Schroeder, Chief Experience Officer at Avtex, discusses the opportunity to reach customers through chat by using careful planning and optimized technolgoy implementation. This article was written for Customer Service Manager - The Journal & Resource for Customer Service Managers & Professionals. To view the original article, click here.
Bots, and the underlying AI that drives them, have become increasingly popular in many Customer Experience and contact center circles, and for good reason. Bots offer extended functionality and enable customers to find answers or support without the involvement of a live agent. Implemented and maintained properly, bots have the potential to significantly improve customer and employee experience.
However, without a defined strategy and optimized implementation, bots can lead to frustration for customers, agents and leadership.
How can you seize the potential bots offer, without negatively impacting your customers or agents? Keep these key factors in mind when developing your bot strategy.
Focus on developing transparent but conversational interactions
Companies that fake their way are creating a bad experience because they are not being authentic. Authenticity is a key criteria of a good customer experience.
With that in mind, it is important to remember that chat bots are tools, not an actual replacement for an interaction with a live person. Few users are likely going to believe that they are interacting with a real person when typing a question into a chat bot window – attempting to fool them into thinking a bot is a real person is a mistake. Transparency is key.
Alexa from Amazon is a good example. Everyone knows Alexa is fake. She isn’t trying to fool people into believing she’s a real person chatting with people all over the world. In this case, Alexa is intentionally fake and transparent. This transparency allows users to temper their expectations of an interaction with Alexa.
When users see a chat window pop up that says “Hi I’m Sam, how can I help you” at 3:00 am on a Saturday morning, they know that the company is trying to fool them into thinking a live agent is reaching out to them. This isn’t ideal. A bot that says, “Hello. It’s 3:00 am all of our real people are sleeping. I’m Sam, our automated response technology. I can help you with most of your questions” – or something to that effect – is a much better, more authentic approach.
Be up front with your customers about each bot interaction. Focus on creating a conversational engagement between your customers and the chat bot, but don’t try to fool them into thinking they are speaking to a real person. Develop detailed user personas and leverage them to map and create naturally flowing conversations and responses.
When implementing a chat bot, it can be easy to get carried away and attempt to create a solution capable of answering every possible customer question or addressing any potential issue. Short of spending years in development and countless dollars, you’ll likely not be able to achieve this goal.
Leverage customer data to focus on the most common questions or issues your customers have and develop your bot to address those first. Then create an ongoing roadmap for adding functionality to your bot, adding answers to more and more questions as they become relevant for your business. This approach will likely achieve far better results than attempting to solve every issue or answer every potential question up front.
To be truly effective, a chat bot must be capable of actually helping your customers. To help your customers, the bot must be able to access and source certain data sets or reroute the interaction. When developing your chat bot, ensure that the solution is integrated with any other technology platforms necessary to achieve its objective of supporting customers. Explore the potential of each integration carefully, and weight the benefits against the associated costs or risks. Create a roadmap for adding further functionality or integrations to continually improve the capabilities and effectiveness of your bot.
Create seamless transitions
It is important to realize that not every customer issue can be resolved via a bot interaction, and that bots are just one potential touchpoint in a larger customer journey. Plan for natural and seamless transitions from the chat bot to a live agent. Ensure that the agent fielding the interaction has access to the chat transcript to avoid conversational redundancies and continue the interaction without unnecessary interruption. The potential to reach customers through chat is massive. By carefully planning each aspect of your chat bot implementation, you can empower customers and reduce the stress on agents while ensuring optimal experience for everyone involved.
To further explore the potential of bots and viable strategies for implementing them, visit “Blended AI: Bots in the Contact Center.”
Kurt Schroeder is the Chief Experience Officer and leader of CX consulting practice at Avtex, a full-service CX consulting and solution provider focused on helping organizations create better experiences for customers. Avtex partners with leading technology vendors like Microsoft and Genesys to address CX challenges through CX design and orchestration. Kurt and his team help organizations thrive in the experience economy by creating meaningful experiences in every interaction. Kurt has pioneered methodologies and approaches to customer experience over 30 years for companies in financial services, agriculture, manufacturing, health care, distribution, insurance, consumer packaged goods and non-profits, including GE, 3M, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, United Health Group, numerous credit unions and manufacturers.