We've all come across chatbots during our online shopping sprees. Powered by AI, ML, NLP, and deep neural networks, chatbots have become powerful mediums to engage with end consumers. Their prevalence has grown rapidly across a multitude of channels including social media, messaging platforms, websites, and mobile apps. There are over 100,000 chatbots active on the Facebook Messenger platform alone.
Chatbots enable businesses to automate many of their core customer service processes. Not only do they improve lead generation and presales engagement, but they can also answer customer queries, provide product information, and collect feedback.
When looking from the customer's perspective, chatbots make their online experience much more streamlined. They don't need to wait in line to connect with a call center agent - they can type out their query and get a quick answer at any time of the day. This is in addition to the fact that 56% of users today would rather message than call customer service. Our survey also showed that 85% of consumers find it much easier to interact with a chatbot.
Simply put, chatbots are not a just choice anymore - they're a necessity for every business that wants to actively interact with its target market.
How are customers interacting with chatbots?
Before chatbots became commonplace, customers were compelled to use traditional modes to connect with their favorite companies. Our survey revealed that 49% of shoppers used to contact the company call center in case of any issue. 23% used to send emails, and a further 13% interacted via the official website. Each of these modes was slow, expensive, and required a lot of manpower. But now times have changed, 63% of our survey respondents have used a chatbot in the last three months for a variety of reasons.
51% used them to register complaints and resolve their queries, while 35% wanted to gather more information about the company and its products.
What do customers expect from chatbots?
When setting up chatbots, it's important to keep customer expectations in mind. After all, the entire goal of incorporating chatbots is to improve customer experience.
39% of customers prefer using chatbots on the official company website while 30% prefer messaging applications like WhatsApp. Mobile apps also come a close third with 29% of the respondents choosing it as their preference.
As chatbots continue to grow more advanced with developments in artificial intelligence, customers' expectations are also rising. Customers, today, expect chatbots to be more interactive with a greater understanding of customer queries. Moreover, they want chatbots to be able to predict queries and offer suggestions without having to type the entire question. And all of this needs to happen at a much faster pace.
One of the most common customer suggestions we received in our survey was that chatbots should be able to divert the query or complaint to a live agent automatically, in case it's unable to help.
All in all, chatbots need to become more human-like in their approach with greater response accuracy and speed.
What are the biggest issues customers face when interacting with chatbots?
As advanced as chatbots are, they're not perfect. Customers often face issues while engaging with them. 46% of customers have faced challenges while using a chatbot. 15% of them went on to say that they didn't find chatbots easy to use. These issues, if unresolved, can force them to shop elsewhere, affecting your brand reputation as well as sales numbers.
According to our survey, customers face three key issues with chatbots.
Sometimes chatbots are unable to understand the query itself which impedes its quick resolution.
Some chatbots are limited in scope and can handle only certain types of queries. If a customer's query doesn't fall into those categories, they remain unresolved.
Lastly, chatbots don't provide customers with the option of connecting to a live agent. This can add to their frustrations. 38% of the survey respondents preferred talking to a live agent when the chatbot's automated answers weren't enough.
When implementing chatbots in your business, it's important to keep these issues in mind. Chatbots can hold many advantages but those benefits can only be realized if customers remain engaged and satisfied. The customer experience can be made better by making chatbots more intelligent. There are technologies in places such as sentiment analysis and predictive analytics that can help improve chatbot operations.
Which industries are chatbots most prevalent in?
Several end-user industries have incorporated chatbots as part of their customer service. This is primarily true for customer-facing businesses that rely heavily on customer trust and communication.
Our survey showed that customers mainly prefer using chatbots for banking and E-commerce. Both industries combined to be the top preferences for 46% of the respondents. Another 9% chose food delivery, followed by entertainment (9%), healthcare (6%), hospitality (5%), Ed-tech (4%), and B2B (2%).
With only 2% of the respondents choosing to use chatbots in B2B transactions, it's a potentially large market that remains untapped. The right developments in chatbot technology, specifically geared towards gaining the trust of large-ticket customers, can make the B2B segment a big opportunity.
How to use personalization to make chatbots more user-friendly?
Chatbots don't need to impersonate humans; instead, they need to use the cognitive technologies at hand to continuously monitor and learn user behavior so that their responses become more meaningful and accurate over time. Self-learning algorithms enable chatbots to better understand user needs, predict user behavior, and forge deeper relationships between the organization and the user.
One of the key metrics for measuring a chatbot's performance is its ability to resolve queries on first contact. To improve this metric, chatbots will have to become personalized by studying the user, understanding their nuances, and providing customized responses.
One big aspect of personalization falls under language. Users prefer dealing with companies and brands that can provide information and assistance in the user's native language. 76% of customers prefer using a chatbot that can respond in their native language. In fact, 56.2% of users even think that obtaining information in their language is more important than the price itself. Removing the language barrier from chatbots will make them more accessible to a wider range of users, making the customer journey frictionless and more satisfying.
In conclusion, chatbots have seen an unprecedented explosion in adoption across several industry verticals due to their promises of better customer satisfaction and more sales at an affordable rate. The banking and E-commerce sectors have been the strongest supporters of chatbots with other industries also showing increased interest. Even most customers prefer using a chatbot over interacting with a live call center agent. But to fully realize the impact of chatbots, organizations need to make them more utilitarian and interactive. They should be able to resolve more queries, offer personalized responses in the local tongue, and connect to a live agent in necessary cases. As chatbots become more intelligent, bolstered by the massive strides in artificial intelligence, machine language, and data science, they're poised to become the primary tool of engagement between organizations and their audiences.