Boost Your Business: How Chatbots Can Enhance Customer Support
As a former customer support manager for a Fortune 500 company, I’ve seen time and time again that chatbots — always available and cost-effective — can really enhance customer and employee satisfaction. But I’m also aware that integrating new technologies like AI chatbots into your customer support team’s established workflows takes time, money, and training.
Today, beyond discussing how chatbots can improve customer support, I’ll outline practical, actionable advice from my own experience to help you effectively integrate chatbots into your customer service strategy.
The importance of a good customer experience
A great customer experience is the heart of any successful business. In fact, a staggering 96% of US consumers claim customer service is important, with 78% of them stating it’s fundamental to earning their business.
Here’s why customer service matters:
- It adds value. The correlation between excellent service and the willingness of customers to pay more for a product or service is significant, as customers perceive high-quality service as valuable.
- It boosts customer retention. Customers are likely to return if they have a pleasant interaction with your business.
- It improves your reputation. Satisfied customers often leave positive reviews, enhancing your brand image.
- It builds customer trust and loyalty. Good service creates a bond of trust, transforming customers into brand advocates.
It sets you apart. Exceptional customer service is a powerful differentiator in the market.
How AI chatbots improve the customer experience
Advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing have led to significant improvements in chatbot technology over the last few years. 72% of consumers noted noticeable improvements in AI bots between 2022 and 2023. These automated virtual agents can engage in human-like conversation, answering queries and solving problems.
However, AI chatbots can’t replace the need for human interaction. Their inability to understand and process the complexities of human communication, such as emotions, cultural references, and context, is a limiting factor. A customer dealing with a complex issue may require empathy, reassurance, or a custom solution, none of which a bot can provide.
In my experience, an ideal balance can be a collaboration, where chatbots handle the routine and straightforward queries, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex issues that require a human touch. A good practice is to have AI as the first line of contact that’s capable of solving basic issues, while escalating more complex cases to human agents.
We’ve previously discussed how AI improves customer support. Let’s examine nine ways that AI chatbots, in particular, can improve the customer support user experience.
1. Reduce customer wait time
No one enjoys waiting. In fact, almost two-thirds of US online adults believe that valuing their time is the most crucial thing a brand can do for a good customer experience.
Here, AI chatbots can make a significant impact, as they can offer instant help. Chatbots can immediately answer customer inquiries, even outside business hours.
There’s a knock-on effect too. Because chatbots free your team from repetitive questions, they have more time to focus on the tougher customer queries. This results in faster results for customers overall, helping them understand that you value their time.
2. Offer 24/7 customer support
Customer support isn’t a nine-to-five job. The digital transformation of businesses has made it possible for customers worldwide to buy your products and services anytime, and they expect help as soon as it’s needed. Implementing AI chatbots can provide you with the means to offer this level of service.
If a customer from a different time zone needs help while your human agents are off the clock, the AI chatbot can step in, provide relevant answers, and enhance customer satisfaction without human intervention.
It’s best to program your chatbot to provide relevant answers to common inquiries before transferring the user to a human agent. According to a Zendesk report, 77% of consumers with online support requests found AI and bots helpful for simple issues, making it clear that bots that can answer the most common queries can go a long way toward enhancing customer experience.
3. Lower costs
In 2023, a growing 40% of business leaders see customer support not as a cost center, but as a potential revenue driver. The effective use of chatbots is a significant contributor to this shift.
Why? Apart from improving customer support, AI chatbots are also cost efficient. They can handle multiple queries simultaneously, freeing your human agents to tackle complex issues requiring a human touch. Overall, this means spending fewer resources on repetitive tasks and shifting focus to strategic areas.
Here’s some tips for reducing customer service costs with chatbots.
- Automate tasks. Have your chatbot take over routine yet time-consuming tasks like scheduling appointments or guiding users through a troubleshooting process.
- Streamline processes. Implement a chatbot in your email and social media channels to filter queries and direct them to the appropriate department.
- Use chatbots internally. Chatbots are not always customer facing. Internally, companies can leverage chatbots as virtual assistants. For example, employees can use them for research, quickly fetching information from internal or online databases. They can also use AI-powered chatbots for routine tasks such as scheduling meetings, managing calendars, or providing reminders for deadlines.
4. Answer social media inquiries
It’s no secret that social media platforms have become a primary means of customer communication. But even with a dedicated team, responding to every comment, direct message, or tweet in real time can be overwhelming.
That’s where AI chatbots step in. Customer service chatbots can monitor your social media accounts, respond to comments, and direct messages in real time, providing quick answers to commonly asked questions. They can even integrate with messaging apps on platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to handle inquiries promptly. Customers love when they can use their preferred messaging apps to get support from companies.
Given that only 10% of people say they find customer service convenient today, implementing an AI chatbot to make your customer service more responsive on social media is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
5. Improve email automation
AI chatbots can improve your email processes, from responding to customer support queries to email marketing campaigns. You can offer faster, more personalized responses to your customers. As a result, your service is more likely to meet customer expectations, which translates to increased customer satisfaction and retention.
Here are some of the ways you can improve email automation with AI chatbots.
- Automate email capture. Use chatbots to capture email addresses from visitors on your site. This helps build your email list while providing instant responses to customer queries.
- Optimize email segmentation. AI can analyze customer data and intelligently segment customers into groups based on behavior and interests. This allows you to better target and personalize your email marketing. AI can also be used to sort customer support emails into different categories based on things such as sentiment or topic, making it easier for your customer support team to find which emails to prioritize.
- Use AI in crafting emails. A well-crafted email can convert a prospect into a customer. AI writing tools like Wordtune are perfect for drafting emails to customers, as they can provide multiple response options for each sentence. You can use Wordtune to rewrite words, sentences, and entire paragraphs until your emails are perfect. Check out my guide on how to create emails that convert using AI.
6. Personalize your communication
A personalized experience is a crucial element of customer engagement. It creates a connection between your brand and customers, which can increase customer loyalty.
77% of business leaders recognize that deeper personalization increases customer retention. Customer support chatbots can help you achieve this level of personalization in communication.
Here’s how to leverage chatbots for personalized customer experiences.
- Ask relevant questions. Program your chatbot to ask questions based on previous customer interactions. This makes the customer feel heard and valued because it shows you’ve listened to them.
- Analyze customer data. Use AI to analyze data from customer interactions. This can help you customize future communications to each customer’s needs and preferences. For example, your AI chatbot can offer different solutions based on purchase history and customer preferences.
- Provide adaptive conversations. AI bots can use natural language processing to understand the intent and context of customer discussions. This means the conversation can flow dynamically depending on what the customer needs at the moment.
- Offer proactive engagement. Chatbots can take the initiative, proactively engaging with customers based on preset triggers. For example, your chatbot could send a query to customers two weeks after they’ve received your product, asking whether they’re happy with their purchase and if there’s anything you can do to assist them.
7. Collect informative data
AI chatbots not only improve your customer relationships but also serve as a rich source of customer data.
It often pays to use contextually relevant questions when using AI chatbots. Program your chatbot to ask specific questions that provide valuable insights about your leads. Some examples could be:
- What specific goals or objectives are you looking to achieve within the industry?
- What features or capabilities are most important when considering a product or service?
- Have you previously used any similar products or services? If so, what were the strengths and weaknesses of those solutions?
These seemingly simple questions can offer you excellent insights into what your leads are looking for. You can use these insights for personalized, targeted marketing.
Program your chatbot to adapt questions based on the customer’s previous interactions. This ensures you always collect the most relevant data.
8. Grade your leads with AI chatbots
Identifying and grading your leads is essential to your customer service strategy. Companies typically grade the hotness of a lead from 0-100 so that the sales team can spend more time on the leads that are most likely to convert.
AI chatbots can take some of the load off your team by automatically grading your leads based on data and customer interactions. With the time saved, your team can craft more effective strategies to convert the most promising leads into customers.
Here’s how you can grade leads with AI chatbots.
- Pre-qualify leads. Program your chatbot to ask preliminary questions that help identify the potential of a lead. For example, the chatbot may ask about the size of the lead’s company, assigning a higher score to larger companies.
- Analyze responses. Use AI to analyze responses and assign lead scores. The chatbot can determine if a lead is warm, cold, or hot based on their responses. For instance, if a customer inquires about delivery turnaround times, the chatbot will assign them a higher lead score since they are more likely to purchase soon.
- Sync customer profiles. The lead scoring completed by the chatbot needs to be available to your sales staff. Integrate your chatbot with your customer relationship management (CRM) system to sync customer sentiments and profiles from the chatbot to the CRM.
9. Generate high-quality leads
AI chatbots have proved to be an effective tool for lead generation, guiding website visitors along the customer journey and even converting them into leads.
To generate high-quality leads with AI chatbots, design your chatbot interactions based on the steps of your sales funnel. These steps are often: awareness, interest, evaluation, conversion, and retention.
Your chatbot can offer different help at each stage, from building credibility to providing discounts and incentives. For example, a chatbot can often best assist someone checking out your website for the first time by sharing engaging content and answering FAQs. Someone who has already tried the product would be better served by a bot with a stronger focus on purchasing and pricing.
Check out my guide on generating leads with AI for more details on how AI can help you find the best leads.
The diverse capabilities of AI chatbots can benefit your business in a multitude of ways. From providing 24/7 customer support, personalizing communication, and grading leads to reducing customer service pressure, generating leads, and collecting informative data, AI chatbots are helping customer service teams operate more efficiently and successfully.
By now, you should know how to leverage AI chatbots in different aspects of your business. However, remember that the power of AI goes beyond chatbots. Tools like Wordtune can help improve your written communication, making it more effective and personalized.
The combination of these AI-powered tools can significantly enhance your customer service, marketing strategies, and overall business operations.
This article was co-written with Wordtune. Wordtune didn’t write the whole piece. Instead, it contributed ideas, suggested rephrasing alternatives, maintained consistency in tone, and of course - made the process much more fun for the writer.