Chatbots Are Here to Stay: Here's How to Make Them Work for Your Business

Chatbots Are Here to Stay: Here's How to Make Them Work for Your Business

Love them or hate them, customer service chatbots are here to stay – and they're only going to become more popular as they become more sophisticated and capable of a wider range of tasks. With the right implementation, customer service chatbots can instantly improve almost any customer service department.

But what strategies should you use to make sure your bots and your implementation of those bots make this approach profitable?

Finding (or Building) a Better Chatbot

One of the most important steps you can take is finding, or better yet, building a better chatbot. There are many types of chatbots out there and thousands of prospective providers, as well as a practically unlimited pool of custom developers who can make bots perfectly suited to your specific application. Some chatbots merely follow rules, while others utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop a kind of mind of their own, with much greater flexibility to serve your customers.

Your choices are largely going to depend on the complexity of the knowledge you need to provide your customers, the types of customers you serve, the types of questions they ask, and your budget. The more you're willing to spend, the greater the range of capabilities your chatbot will likely have. More knowledgeable, more flexible chatbots are generally going to provide your customers with a better overall experience.

Do’s and Don’ts for Customer Service Chatbots

These are some do’s and don'ts for utilizing customer service chatbots in your organization:

  • Do give your chatbot a personality. It's a good idea to give your bot a unique personality. This is going to make it easier for most people to engage with the bot, and possibly give them a more entertaining experience. In an ideal scenario, this can make it hard for people to even notice that they're dealing with a non-human.
  • Do drive customers to your chatbot. You're investing in a chatbot for a reason, so do everything you can to funnel your customers into using it. Make it extremely noticeable, advertise its strengths, and make it the priority channel for all your customer service communications.
  • Do tell your customers about the chatbot. While there is some data to suggest that consumers prefer talking to humans over chatbots, you shouldn’t use that as excuse to pretend your chatbot is human. Let them know that it's a chatbot and don't use any sly trickery or passive implications to convince them otherwise.
  • Do make a concentrated effort to make it easy for customers. Ease of use is a huge factor for your success in deploying a customer service chatbot. Even the most technologically challenged users should find it easy to ask questions and maintain a conversation.
  • Do include suggested questions. One strategy to help you do this is to include suggested questions, which users can either click immediately or use as inspiration for forming their own questions. This shows off the types of questions that your bot is capable of answering, while simultaneously making it simple to get started.
  • Do get feedback and analyze your results. Collect data on your interactions and use surveys to gauge the feelings of your customers. Analyze those results and use them to make more improvements.

Now for the most important items to avoid:

  • Don’t abandon your human agents. Chatbots can supplant the most mundane and repetitive tasks of your customer service agents, but you'll still need human agents to tackle more complicated questions (in most cases). Feel free to reallocate some of your staff and adjust responsibilities, but definitely keep at least some human customer service agents on your team.
  • Don’t send massive messages. It’s hard to measure the true “average” human attention span, but suffice it to say, it’s pretty short. If your chatbot constantly sends paragraphs of information, it's going to overwhelm and frustrate most of your users. Try to keep the messages as clear and concise as possible.
  • Don’t spam your customers. Some companies have attempted to use their customer service chatbots as marketing and advertising tools, talking up the brand and showcasing other products. There's nothing wrong with an occasional message like this, but you should also avoid spamming your customers, which could turn them off entirely.
  • Don’t get stagnant or complacent. We’re in a kind of golden age of customer service chatbots, with new advancements constantly being introduced. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors and keep your customers happy, commit to ongoing improvements.

Regardless of how you personally feel about them, chatbots are the future. The incredible advantages are hard to ignore, and as long as you're willing to adopt a proper chatbot, it can possibly transform your entire customer service department for the better.