by Mikko Rindell
on April 08, 2020
Why Customer Service Chatbots Fail and How to Avoid It
The easiest way to keep your customers happy is to provide them with quick, effective and convenient customer service. Previously, the fastest method of support was via telephone and email. Now, the bar is raised. Today’s customers expect answers within seconds, not hours.
To meet customers’ rising expectations, businesses around the world are adopting chatbots to provide fast, instant, and accurate support for their customers.
And this strategy works.
A Zendesk study discovered that live chat has the second-highest customer satisfaction rate at 91% (the first being phone support).
Further analysis by Comms100 finds live chat services that are supported by chatbots score 7% higher in terms of customer satisfaction than those handled exclusively by humans. Last but not least, 51% of customers are likely to buy again from a company if it offers live chat support.
With such positive results, AI-powered chatbots are becoming indispensable to businesses and consumers worldwide.
Despite chatbot’s great potential, there’s one important thing you should keep in mind:
Streamlining your chatbot’s execution is crucial to its success. Unless your chatbot provides the right information at the right time on a consistent basis, you won’t get very good results. And research proves this. Seven out of ten Americans surveyed say they would avoid using a company’s chatbot if they had a bad experience with it.
In this article, discover five important precautions you can take — and strategies to adopt — to ensure your chatbot succeeds at providing stellar service for your customers.
1. Avoid putting your chatbot in an inappropriate use-case
Customers want self-service support options. With 71% of customers wanting to contact a company’s customer service via some form of text, chat, or messaging, an AI chatbot is the perfect solution. Thanks to chatbots, customers can find solutions and answers themselves without waiting to speak to a human support agent. And this is exactly what customers prefer.
Chatbots are made for dealing with simple or frequently asked questions, but they aren’t built for solving unique, complex, and rarely occurring customer support requests yet.
That’s why you should use a mix of both human and AI solutions, like live chat and chatbots.
This way, while your chatbot automatically handles the majority of simple, frequently occurring customer support issues, your human agents get more time to address complex tickets. And with such a combination in place, you can provide high quality customer support – no matter how easy or complex the support request.
2. Don’t let your chatbot overwhelm customers with information overload
Value your customers’ time. You can do this by making sure your chatbot doesn’t include long strings of unnecessary information.
- No long, desperate elevator pitches insisting users buy your product/service.
- No big walls of text.
- No unexpected advertising messages.
All these things make your chatbot unattractive to users, who are great at detecting when they’re being marketed to and are only using your chatbot to get information that’s relevant to them. If your chatbot has the flaws mentioned above, it is more likely that customers will request a live agent’s time, or worse, abandon your website.
What you can do to ensure this won’t happen:
- Make sure your chatbot interface is user-friendly: Your customers shouldn’t have to ‘learn’ how to use your chatbot. Instead, its design should be simple, beautiful, and easy-to-understand. Doing common things like asking a question and requesting a live agent should be easy and straightforward.
- Add an attractive conversation-starter: Your chatbot should encourage users to interact with it. To be able to do so, its conversation starter (the first sentence that the chatbot communicates) should be concise, full of personality and motivating. ‘Hi there! How can I help you today?’ or ‘What’s on your mind? Feel free to ask a question’ are some good examples.
- Make the information easily digestible: Your first and foremost priority is to make sure your chatbot presents information in short sentences, constructed with easy-to-understand words. If your chatbot must deliver complex or lengthly information, break it up into smaller paragraphs or, even better, step-by-step instructions. Your customers will thank you (or at least your chatbot) for it!
Pro-tip: Engage with your customers even more:
- Add buttons and options which they can physically click.
- Add media elements like images, GIFs, and links.
- ‘Talk’ in a conversational, human-like tone.
Taking such steps will ensure customers find your chatbot not just helpful, but delightful to use as well.
3. Make sure your chatbot’s personality aligns with your brand
Your chatbot shouldn’t look out of place on your website, application or wherever you decide to put it. It should be a natural extension of your brand. You can make your chatbot look and feel this way by matching its avatar, branding, and personality with your company’s branding and target audience.
But how exactly do you do this?
Well, the first thing you can do is personalize your chatbot’s avatar with your company logo. Next, you can match its color with the primary color of your brand. This way, your chatbot becomes a natural part of your website/application.
Once that’s done, you can focus on creating a ‘personality’ for your chatbot.
This simply means choosing the tone of voice your chatbot uses to present information to your users. For example, if you’re running a pizza delivery service, you’ll want your chatbot to be casual and make good use of pop-culture references. On the other hand, if you’re running a hotel, you might want your chatbot to take a more formal (but no less friendly) tone.
Also, when developing a personality for your bot, it's important to note that cleverly put-together sentences, jokes, puns and branding messages always come second. After all, 69% of consumers use a chatbot to get an instant answer, while only 15% use it for fun. Therefore, convey relevant information in an easy to understand manner. This is always your first and foremost priority.
But where possible, add personality to the information your chatbot is presenting. This will help you shape how conversations flow so your chatbot’s messages will resonate with your customers even more.
4. Ensure there is no lack in flow of conversation
Today’s chatbots are significantly smarter. Thanks to artificial intelligence and NLP (natural language processing), they can string together and understand more complicated sentences, thus providing more reliable answers.
As even the best of humans can get stumped on a tricky or complex support request, chatbots are no exception. No matter how capable or well-trained your chatbot is, it will sometimes fail to provide the required customer support.
In such situations, you need to make sure your customers aren’t stuck in an error-loop.
An easy fix is to add a way out. For example, if your chatbot gets stuck in a dead-end or is unable to understand a complicated query, you can provide your users with an option to:
- Email the conversation or question directly to customer support within the chatbot. Alternatively, ask the customer to provide a phone number to be called by a human agent who will resolve the issue.
- Talk to one of your customer support agents via live chat, during opening hours.
- Visit your company’s FAQ page, knowledge-base or other helpful webpages.
By providing these options, your customers won’t feel abandoned if the chatbot fails. Instead, they are guided to other support channels, where their problems can be resolved.
5. Don’t let your chatbot become stagnant
Chatbots are always ready to learn and never forget knowledge. By training it, you can make your chatbot more effective at providing customer support – and reduce its amount of unanswerable questions.
To train it effectively, you need to make sure it interacts with your customers as much as possible. Deploy your chatbot in as many of your digital channels as you can – your mobile apps, your website and your desktop apps. The more visibility your chatbot has, the greater the chance your customers will interact with it.
When customers interact with your chatbot, it won’t just make your chatbot better at providing customer support. It will also provide you with a treasure trove of data. You’ll learn:
- How customers interact with your chatbot.
- What questions customers ask that your chatbot can answer successfully (and those it can’t).
- What sort of assistance your customers demand.
Knowing this, you can equip your chatbot with even more information (which you should absolutely do). This makes your chatbot more functional and enhances its capability to solve an even greater range of customer support requests automatically.
Recap: What you should (and shouldn’t do)
Chatbots are here to stay. They allow businesses and companies to provide highly satisfactory customer support experiences at scale. But to effectively use a chatbot, companies must employ strategies:
- Recognize situations where chatbots are useful, and those where they aren't.
- Ensure the chatbot presents information in an easily digestible manner.
- Make the chatbot more delightful to use by branding it and adding personality to it.
- Ensure customers are redirected to other channels if the chatbot is unable to provide assistance.
- Place the chatbot in prominent locations so it is used more frequently, allowing it to train using the data it’s gathered and, as a result, become even better at providing customer support.
By doing these five things, anyone can make sure to get great results from their chatbot.
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