8 reasons why the future of self-service is chatbots
Today's digital customer experience (CX) is rooted in convenience. Whether it’s troubleshooting an issue or asking questions about a product or service, customers want to solve the issue on their own time in their own way prior to contacting a support team. A survey by our team at TELUS International showed that 94% of Americans like self-service because of its 24/7 availability and ability to deliver real-time resolution, which is driving more and more organizations to invest in chatbots.
Chatbots have the ability to supercharge CX, realize cost-savings opportunities for businesses, and help future-proof their overall CX strategy. Combined with optimized knowledge bases and FAQs, chatbots can seamlessly answer customers' questions about products or services, allow them to pay bills, and help them tackle account-related inquiries—whenever it's most convenient for them. Organizations can also deploy chatbots to directly support the human CX team members. It's no wonder the use of chatbots is trending upward among brands.
According to recent research from Ryan Strategic Advisory, a firm providing market research and consulting services for the business process outsourcing and CX sector, 64% of global brands' contact centers are now deploying chatbots to support end users. When compared to 2020 results of the same survey, when chatbots were used by 45% of enterprise CX departments, it's clear there's a growing trend in the popularity and implementation of chatbots.
Here are 8 reasons why the future of self-service centers on chatbots:
- Chatbots are available 24/7: Business hours are a thing of the past. For customers, there's a baseline expectation that if they're doing business online, it's going to be done at their convenience. That's non-negotiable. According to the TELUS International survey mentioned earlier, 61% of respondents use self-service and like it because it's available 24/7. If a customer can't find a way to do business with a brand when they want, they will find another brand that will. Luckily, chatbots never need to sleep, which means most simple queries from customers can be answered near-instantly and support can be executed quickly around the clock regardless of the timezone.
- They can “speak” as many languages as you teach them: Advances in natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence and real-time translation make it possible for chatbots to seamlessly converse with customers in their preferred language. A recent study found that multilingual users prefer chatbots that can understand them when they use multiple languages in the same exchange. The takeaway for brands is simple: customers want conversational AI that understands them. Delivering on that is sure to elevate the overall customer support experience. For businesses with global operations but without support teams across the globe, chatbots can be a cost-effective solution by allowing them to use one chatbot to service customers across multiple languages.
- Chatbots provide cost-savings opportunities: For organizations, chatbots can be an attractive way to bring down costs and allow live agents to devote their time to more complex customer queries. Banking is a prime example. According to Juniper Research data, chatbots have the potential to save the banking industry $7.3 billion globally by 2023 because of the transactional nature of many customer inquiries. Another Juniper Research report says chatbots could save global healthcare systems a combined $3.7 billion by 2023. A simple example is a case study TELUS International did of using a conversational bot to help users unlock accounts and reset passwords. The implementation of a chatbot deflected calls to the IT Service Desk and allowed team members are able to access accounts in half the time.
- Self-service transcends demographics: The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt raised the digital literacy bar, giving customers across generations the opportunity to adjust to the realities of doing businesses online. But even before that, Baby Boomer customers straight through to Generation Z were already embracing self-service. According to our TELUS International survey, nearly everyone polled agreed that they like self-service options. Next to FAQs, chatbots were the most widely used self-service support method with Gen Y and Gen Z being the most likely to prefer using virtual assistants or chatbots.
- Chatbots can “live” anywhere: Americans added an hour of daily screen time in 2020 versus 2019, reports CNN Business. That time is split between a growing number of devices. Part of delivering excellent CX is creating consistency across devices so customers are free to engage with a brand through the channel they're most comfortable with. Since Cloud-based chatbot technology can “live” anywhere, it can be integrated across platforms from pop-out chat on a website to a branded app regardless of whether customers are using their smartphones or desktop. Cloud technology also makes it possible to easily update your chatbots in line with new trending FAQs and products or service offerings without any downtime or interruptions to service.
- Chatbots can even “live” on social media: According to Statista, there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide, a staggering figure that equates to nearly half of the current global population. And if Instagram's recent announcement that it will be emphasizing shopping on its app, social media is already becoming a key medium for eCommerce. On that note, it is also a key medium for customer support. Customers who query a brand through social media are likely doing so because they feel it is the perfect medium for getting a quick answer. For brands using their social channels for social selling or promoting positive user-generated content, chatbots can help keep pace with customer queries and enhance the overall social media CX experience.
- Chatbots are a direct driver of a strong Customer Effort Score: The Customer Effort Score (CES), a metric that measures the level of perceived effort a customer has to put out to answer a query or concern, has become an important marker of success for CX. Salesforce's “State of the Connected Customer” report found that more than eight out of ten customers (83%) expect to “interact with someone immediately when they contact a company” and the same percentage expects their complex queries to be solved during a single interaction. Chatbots make that easy and seamless. They can answer queries near-instantly, or, if they're too complex, they can quickly and efficiently transfer the conversation to a live agent who can pick up where the chatbot left off with a full view of the ‘conversation to date.
- Chatbots offer the ability for a continually improving CX: Chatbot analytics offers the opportunity to continually improve CX with every interaction. In a sense, chatbots are like human employees—sometimes they need guidance and management to improve. The data gathered through a chatbot can highlight any tensions that may exist in the customer journey and inform overall improvements to a brand's product or service. As conversational AI and chatbot technology improve, they will be able to sound more human and complete more complex requests and tasks.
Enabling personalized CX
Chatbot technology has become an irreplaceable part of the self-service experience, allowing brands to keep pace with the ever-evolving expectations of increasingly tech-savvy consumers. While it's clearly the direction we're heading as far as self-service goes, perhaps one of the greatest assets of chatbots is their ability to effectively serve as front-line customer support but recognize when it’s time to step aside for live agent support. In the end, the goal is to deliver differentiated, seamless, and personalized CX, and chatbots are a vital part of that customer journey.