You know what happens. You click on a website, not necessarily needing anything in particular, but then it hits you — BAM! The little box has popped up in your bottom right-hand corner.
“Hi, how can I help you?” The text reads.
Is it a real person? Is it a robot? Can it actually help me? These are all questions that have run through our heads at some point in our lives.
Although 10 years ago it might have seemed impossible, live chat is now integral to each and every marketing strategy. Live chat is a part of User Interaction which applies the strategies and technologies of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to provide customer service. It has been adopted by countless companies, and these companies continue to benefit from it. It’s no wonder that live chat is receiving more and more attention and gaining consumer preference, as research has shown.
The following article discusses the successes, failures, and examples of live chat bot usage. We’re here to help explain the ins and outs of chat bots. We’ll close with a few handy tips to help you ensure that your business is in tip top consumer communication shape!
Working with Chat Bots
Chat bots provide an instant line of communication, so it prevents customer’s likelihood of purchase from decreasing. We all know that customers get impatient easily, and although your hired customer service team can’t work all night, live chat can! It works 24/7/365. I believe your online business won’t close at 5 pm or 6 pm right? Who knows when your lovely customer will stop by your place and have some questions for you.
Implementing an AI chat system is also helpful because it is able to serve multiple people at the same time. Most importantly, the expense is relatively low when you’re considering the high level of efficiency.
Also, this system helps the company and its customers to send opinions reciprocally. Obviously, you are trying to offer the best shopping experience for your customer. Meanwhile, your customers are unconsciously helping you to gather information from them.
For example, what’s the most confusing stage when they are browsing your website or what’s the most highly asked question?
Questions like these help you update your live chat database, FAQ page, and allow you to shape your robots to be more like human beings. The better your website visitors’ browsing experience, the higher likelihood you can convert this chat into a sale.
Chat Bots and Limited Versatility for Customer Care
The first challenge is that the chat bot is not versatile enough to provide answers to personalized questions. The responses are limited only to predefined questions and its response algorithms.
When talking about text-based chat bots, problems like spelling, not using exact words that the chat bot expects to receive, or inability of chat bots to parse sentences for specific keywords required to return an answer are just a handful of issues that would cause a bot to return an error. (e.g., “Sorry, I don’t have the answer to your question.”).
Most customers have been frustrated by these limitations and are impatient to grow with changing improvements in the technology. Understandably, customers want response to their questions immediately and they perceive the limitation of the chat bot as an extension of the brand’s poor engagement with customers.
Chat Bots and Impersonal Engagements
Second, and possibly more important, chat bots come across to most customers as impersonal. This isn’t really a chat bot problem as much as it is a problem related to how companies choose to leverage the technology.
A bot is as much a solution to a business problem – cutting down on customer support resources – as it is a customer-facing technology. Taking the time to personalize the voice, messaging, and tone of the chat bot is important. So is defining a way that gives concise, unadorned and responsive answers to the end users’ questions and remarks.
This challenge is very common in the B2C industries such as banking services, phone, or internet service. In most cases, the legal and technical verbiage might be too wordy and impersonal to create the right connection with customers.
Chat Bots are Not Fully Equipped to Deal with Real Life Scenarios
Most customer-care issues are real life issues that require analytical pathways to solve it. For instance, some customers may want more information on how to immediately get refunded for an incorrectly processed transaction. Customers may also prefer a customized service or product with different attributes than what is obtainable in the company’s present product offerings.
The reality is that bots are only equipped to answer specific questions that other humans must think about. Their intelligence is very limited in scope and breadth unless it’s constantly updated. In a way, bots are judged for the lack of foresight their creators and business owners exhibit. And that’s the unjust reality.
What about machine-learning bots that can adapt to the needs of customers? So far, social experiments about letting bots “learn” from users have ended up in failure, with Microsoft’s Tay chat bot being the most famous example of bots going rogue. Tay was an experiment in artificial intelligence launched by Microsoft and catered towards young people. It was supposed to mimic conversations by learning about topics users care about and like, but ultimately the project failed.
Examples of Successfully Implemented Chat Bots
After the last section, you’re probably wondering if chat bots are doomed. The answer is- nope! Although the chat bots are limited in some respects, there are many companies that are making leaps and bounds to ensure that chat bots are successfully integrated into our future. One of these companies is Intercom.
Intercom is a company that truly is implementing all of the best chat bot practices. They saw a need for customer communication and troubleshooting that was not only accessible at any time of day, but also conveyed a sense of genuine care and helpfulness. You’re probably thinking: What’s the secret recipe? Well, lucky for you, here are some of Intercom’s tricks of the trade.
First, they recognized the need to be global. According to Intercom’s marketing data, “…close to 75% of people search online using their own language? And that 42% of people would never buy a product or service in a language other than their own?” (intercom.com).
This statistic points to the fact that if we as marketers are only catering to one language specific audience, we are in fact stunting our own growth potential. Enabling a chat bot that is programmed to speak in many languages would allow for easy flow of communication, which further pushes the consumer through the sales funnel.
Next, they created an algorithm that gets down to the bottom of issues faster so that consumers don’t feel that they are frustrated and wasting time. Speed is everything, as shown by the graphic below. So, Intercom mitigates this with their algorithm that asks many questions to find out what the nature of the problem is, and then solves it like a customer support human would.
The bot also asks the consumers what the urgency of the issue is. If the consumer expresses that the issue is one of true urgency, or is too complicated, the consumer is rerouted and given a way to talk to a customer support person. These measures lessen the chance that a consumer will give up on their purchase all together.
Lastly, Intercom helps businesses create a plan that is scalable and functional. The chat bots are easy to manage and track with their simple system. Furthermore, the bots are cross functional and work across many platforms and devices (be that a phone, laptop, or tablet).
Intercom is just one company that is building a plan. There are a ton out there, and you could do it too! Read on for more things to consider when you want to improve your customer care and communication.
Projected Future Applications and Tips
Preferably, a CTA (call-to-action) button should be visible. The quicker a customer finds it, the more likely the chance he or she will have a better browsing experience. Usually, a customer won’t go through the purchase funnel as smoothly as you’d like, so you should work pro-actively to lead them to the direction of “purchase”.
First, always be honest, about whether or not the consumer is talking to a Chat Bot. If there are communication issues, don’t keep your customer waiting for over 5 minutes. Let them know as soon as possible if your robot can’t find an appropriate answer.
Next, it’s time for a real human being from the customer team to get involved and take the issue from here. If none of your customer team is available, please offer the easiest suggests and solutions that the customer would desire. I would highly suggest you offer an email address or a contact link directly in the chat window. Therefore, customers don’t need to quit the chat and try to find a way to reach out to you again.
Another good tip is to create 3 voices for different customer segments. We all know one of the disadvantages of live chat is that it may make your audience feel like they are not treated respectfully because it is run by a robot after all. Due to that, we think it’s a good idea to create different voices or tone based on your target audience’s profile and the history of their previous behavior with you.
For instance, if the system detects a new face, your first sentence can be “Finally you’re here! We’ve waited for you for so long!” On the contrary, if the system says he is a repeat visitor, you can have “Hi friend! Welcome back! We really missed you!” as the greeting.
But the thing is, please make sure all these voices and tones are consistent with your social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Don’t make your audiences feel confused or even weirded out. The little live chat window is representing your brand, and you get the chance to convey your brand value and culture to your customers; thus, don’t just treat it as one-time customer service. It plays a crucial role in building a decent relationship between you and your customers.
As we just discussed above, in order to set up 3 customized voices for your live chat, before that, you should segment its functions into 3 groups. It helps you to get prepared for meeting every customer!
For example, A comes to your website accidentally and he is just looking for a casual chat; B is wondering whether your company can do overnight shipment; C brought a T-shirt from you, since the size is not good, he needs a return label.
We can categorize them into three segments, based on the reasons they come to you, “Chat requirement,” “Answer requirement'” and “Action requirement.”
Or, you can categorize based on demographics. For example, when your robot is communicating with someone that is from an older generation, the consumer would most likely appreciate it if you offered a contact number to him or her at the very beginning of the conversation.
This is shown in the graph below. To sum it all up, in order to cater to your customers that come to the website with different purposes and different backgrounds, we recommend that you prepare by perfecting at least three databases based on your priorities and target market.
Cue Auto Response — *Thank You For Reading*
All things considered, chat bots are inevitably necessary. Most companies and teams simply don’t have the bandwidth to cover all communication with frazzled or inquisitive consumers. Chat bots, although limited, can solve many issues before they ever reach a person.
Hopefully these tips and information helped you make an educated decision about implementing AI chat technology. And hey, the next time you’re working with a chat bot, maybe it’ll learn from you too! ☺
About the Authors:
Kenzie Walker is an Advertising Master’s student at the University of Texas, with a concentration in Brand Planning and Strategy. She currently works in digital marketing, and is interested in consumer insights and persona development. Kenzie received her BBA in Marketing from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.
Shiqi Huang is a Master’s student in Advertising at the University of Texas at Austin, with a concentration in Media Insights and a research interest in Human-Computer Interaction. Shiqi works as a graphic designer with an undergrad education background in Finance.
Following his MBA and master’s degree in Advertising, Ebenezer Adewumi founded BrandsByMore, an online media company that produces novel content for experiential marketing and consumer engagements. Ebenezer is passionate about taking brands from acquiescent existence to dynamic engagement with consumers.