Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: Customer Support Chatbots – Striking The Right Balance

This week we feature an article by Ayush Chaudhary who writes about the social media customer support experience. Social customer service allows you to take the interactions with your customers to an even higher level. – Shep Hyken

If you’ve not been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard by now numerous projections about how chatbots are destined to take over customer support. In a recent press release, Gartner estimated that “25% of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017”. Another study by UK-based Juniper Research estimates that chatbots will help businesses save more than $8 billion per year by 2022. These numbers are staggering. But how exactly does one get onboard with this trend?

Most of us think chatbots are sophisticated, AI-powered self-learning bots that leverage some form of advanced language processing to understand the customer’s intent and find a relevant answer. This category of chatbots sounds promising but is a few years away from mainstream adoption, mainly due to the error rates associated with their performance. In fact, the success rate of bot interactions in the healthcare sector was only 12% according to the same Juniper study. Moreover, the serious technical requirements can lead to apprehensions about the feasibility and effectiveness of such bots at scale.

Things aren’t as bad as they sound though. Chatbots that are designed to follow a specific scripted flow, supported by appropriate interfaces can work wonders for your business. For customer support, this translates to bots that present customers with a list of possible options and which can take specific actions in response to those options. Think of it as a telephonic IVRS analog for customer support. Both Facebook and Twitter support these kinds of interfaces, and of late, both have been actively developing and introducing new features which aid this level of automation. These chatbots find use cases with companies in the form of inbound funneling, requesting standard customer details to be filled out, or even gather feedback via a survey.

As you can see, these bots ensure that your support team members have all the relevant information by the time they jump in to help the customer. They are able to focus on helping your customers rather than spending valuable time on a back-and-forth, asking for information that can be easily automated. This results in response times which are otherwise impossible to achieve and helps drive higher levels of customer loyalty.

Setting up this process for your social media customer support is not trivial, obviously. Chatbots and customer support are two disparate domains. There are existing solutions that can help you create chatbots and then there are solutions that help you manage your social media inbounds. But this can lead to synchronization nightmares as your team members are blinded by the chatbot and vice-versa. What’s really required is a platform like Zelp that can connect both these use-cases.

Given that people today do not hesitate to contact companies over social media, it’s not a matter of if but when you incorporate this into your social media customer support experience. Businesses that truly care about their customers, strive to be leaders, and not followers when it comes to innovation in customer experience. This should be one of your top priorities if you are looking to transform your social media customer experience.

Ayush Chaudhary is the Co-founder at Zelp, which is a consolidated social media platform with inbuilt support for chatbots across Twitter and Facebook.

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