How to choose the best customer service chatbot for your team
More and more artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots are coming to market to allow businesses to automate tasks and increase efficiency. People are exploring the potential of chatbots for various use cases like generating social posts and emails, writing software code, automating voice-directed work, and more.
However, one area where chatbots have already proven their value to businesses is customer support. AI chatbots are capable of quickly answering customer queries, analyzing data, automating tasks, and helping customer support agents do their jobs more effectively — if a business chooses the best customer service chatbot for the job.
AI chatbots, defined
Chatbots are solutions designed to provide human-like responses to questions or requests. Some chatbots are rules- or menu-based, limiting customers to specific inputs and delivering preprogrammed outputs. For example, a customer could ask about the business hours of a particular location or choose the question from a drop-down menu, and the chatbot would respond with opening and closing times or holiday hours.
On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots leverage machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and natural language understanding (NLU) to allow customers to communicate with them like they were talking to a human agent. That interaction could look more like a customer asking the question, “When are you open?” and the chatbot asking follow-up questions to learn the nearest location and the days the customer had in mind to stop in.
What an AI chatbot does
An AI chatbot for customer service uses data from a business’s knowledge base or help center documentation to answer customers’ questions. The chatbot responds immediately, eliminating the time a customer would spend waiting on hold for an agent, and becomes the customer’s first contact.
Often, a chatbot can handle a customer’s request from start to finish. However, if a customer has a more complex issue, the chatbot collects information to help an agent resolve the problem more efficiently. The chatbot can record the customer’s name, account information, the model of the product, and other vital information so the agent can immediately begin problem-solving and arrive at a resolution more quickly.
Are chatbots good for customer service?
Purpose-built chatbots are designed to streamline and automate customer service processes so your agents can support customers with more complex needs. But besides being a valuable customer service tool from an efficiency perspective, they also enhance customer experiences.
HubSpot surveyed more than 300 consumers about their expectations for customer service interactions. More than half (58%) wanted to feel heard, appreciated, and valued.
More than 40% said they wanted customer interactions to be low-friction, to offer options for customer service, including online chat and social media support, and to see action to address their issues. And in a recent survey from Morning Consult, it was reported that 90% of consumers agreed that accurate resolution should be provided by customer support and 85% of consumers believe short wait times should be part of the support experience. AI chatbots can help you meet all of these expectations.
How effective are chatbots for customer service?
Research shows that consumers rate customer service performance favorably via chatbots. Thirty-three percent of consumers say chatbots are effective or very effective at resolving customer service issues, while 81% of chatbot users say their most recent support experience was positive.
Furthermore, when you configure your customer service chatbot to provide personalized customer experiences, you can use it to differentiate your business and build customer loyalty. When customers know they can count on customer service that’s fast, efficient, and reliable, they’ll have a more positive impression of your business.
Advantages of using AI chatbots for customer service
Customer support teams with the support of AI chatbots see a return on investment (ROI) on several fronts. With AI chatbots, businesses can do the following:
AI chatbots enable a business to scale customer support without adding new employees. One of the most significant customer service chatbot benefits is its ability to manage basic customer requests on its own, freeing agents to address complex support tickets.
By deploying a chatbot, a business may be able to avoid hiring additional employees. Furthermore, in times of economic uncertainty, scaling by leveraging an AI chatbot can minimize layoffs if demand decreases and helps keep costs under control.
Businesses across the board can benefit. For example, Juniper Research determined that financial institutions will save at least $7.3 billion by 2023 by automating customer service with chatbots.
Additionally, chatbots will save the insurance industry $1.3 billion in claims management. IBM also reports that energy companies using chatbots for customer service can reduce costs of customer service interactions by 80%.
(Learn how we save more than $13 million each month with our own AI chatbot at Zoom)
Unique brand voice
Using a chatbot to address customer inquiries and enhance engagement ensures that customers receive accurate information about your products and services, presented consistently. In addition, you can configure your chatbot with “personality,” so it responds to customer issues in a way that enhances the customer journey and appropriately reflects your brand.
Non-stop customer care and communication
The best chatbots for customer service work around the clock — customers don’t need to wait for regular business hours to find information or get answers to their questions. An AI customer service chatbot also offers your business the tools to orchestrate conversation flows, leading to better customer service and greater customer satisfaction.
Chatbot customer service software can also support multiple languages, which will help your customer support and sales and marketing teams engage customers from different countries without adding multilingual employees.
How else can an AI chatbot help your business?
All the features of AI chatbots can help your current customer service operations run more smoothly and provide your team with new capabilities. For example, your AI chatbot may be able to analyze customer information and initiate proactive chats to address potential issues, such as a lag in user adoption, or to gauge satisfaction with a newly introduced product.
You’ll also be able to integrate the best customer service chatbots with a marketing automation platform to follow up with website visitors that have expressed interest in your products or services.
An AI chatbot can also intelligently route calls to people or departments with the expertise to address customer issues, replacing customer service systems with limited flexibility.
How to choose the best customer service chatbot for your business
To choose the best customer service chatbot, you need to begin by defining your goals. Once you have a clear picture of the chatbot’s role in your customer support operation, you can evaluate chatbot platforms for your business more effectively.
However, whether you plan to implement a chatbot primarily to save customer support costs, collect customer data for analysis, or add a new customer support channel (such as social media or Meta/Facebook Messenger), you should look for a chatbot platform with these essential features.
Most companies don’t have internal resources with expertise in artificial intelligence or AI chatbot platform integration or configuration. The most user-friendly solutions include a no-code chatbot builder that allows you to use prebuilt templates.
Also, look for a solution with native integrations with contact center and customer relationship management (CRM) software and APIs for easy integration with other business applications. Additionally, keep in mind that a chatbot implementation is never one-and-done. The tool should have a user interface that makes updating and managing the chatbot easy.
Some customer service inquiries are complex and may require a level of empathy and problem-solving that a chatbot can’t provide. In these instances, the tool should be able to hand off the call to a human agent, sharing all of the information it collected so the agent can begin to solve problems immediately. The chatbot should also be capable of determining the best agent or department to direct the call to, creating a cohesive experience and fast resolution time.
High accuracy rate
AI chatbot software must have the ability to provide accurate, contextual responses. Natural language processing capabilities enable the platform to detect users’ intents and respond with the answers they’re looking for. Additionally, excellent chatbot performance will mean fewer customers will ask to speak to an agent, reducing the number of calls they must address during their shifts.
The best customer service chatbots will provide you with insights beyond basic reporting. Analyzing the data your chatbot platform collects leads to insights that help you understand your customers better, improve the products and services you offer, and optimize your customer support operations. Your chatbot can also help you collect customer feedback directly or analyze customer sentiment during interactions.
How Zoom Virtual Agent can help
Although you can find a wide variety of customer service chatbot examples, Zoom Virtual Agent can provide you with the broad range of features and flexibility you need. It stands out from other customer service tools with a user-friendly visual chatbot builder and conversation flow builder that simplify configuring your chatbot.
It also brings natural language processing to customer service on all channels, from your website to social media and messaging apps. Additionally, Zoom Virtual Agent gives your customer support team intelligent hand-offs and analytics so they can do their jobs more productively and effectively.
Moreover, this powerful conversational AI platform is backed by dedicated support that helps your customer support team get the most value from the chatbot to achieve the highest customer satisfaction. Ready to transform the customer experience and improve your customer service? Request a free demo of Zoom Virtual Agent and our omnichannel contact center, today!