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Improving Customer Service with Chatbots

This is the second blog post in our Emerging Technology blog series. In this series, we share thought leadership about emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, and customer analytics.

At KSM Consulting, when it comes to technology, our team is always seeking ways to incorporate emerging technology into our everyday lives. Recently, faced with an internet outage during prime football coverage, I encountered a use case for chatbots.

As a continuation of our emerging technology series, learn how chatbots are transforming the customer user experience.

We’ll set the stage through the scenario I encountered:

Saturday, 2:30 PM: I get an error message that displays my connection has timed out. I start to panic. I may be missing the final quarter of the noon games.

Saturday, 2:40 PM: After running a diagnostic screening and refreshing my browser repeatedly, no success. Questions begin to weigh on my mind:

Did my last payment process?
Was I mistakenly locked out of my internet service?
Is there an outage in my area? If so, when will it be resolved?

I decide to call my Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Saturday, 3:00 PM: I connect with my ISP via phone after waiting several minutes. At this point, the onset of FOMF (fear of missing football) has begun. The kind customer service representative informs me there is a widespread outage in my area, hence the long wait. Clearly, I am not the only football fan in Indianapolis. At present, the ISP did not know when coverage would return.

Saturday, 3:05 PM: I begin to devise a plan for improving customer service using a chatbot.

What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a computer program that converses with humans via text or voice through an interface. The conversational interface can be a messaging platform, email platform, phone connection, or another method. Readily known chatbots are Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Chabot’s have varying levels of sophistication. At a minimum, chatbots scan for keywords, providing a best-fit response accessed from a database. An advanced chatbot uses natural language processing, creating a human-like customer service interaction.

How to Think about Chatbots in Business
Do you remember what number you would call when you needed to obtain information a few decades ago? You called a representative at 411 to obtain an answer. Today, you most likely perform a Google search to find the information you need.

Customers have now been influenced in the way they gather information. It comes as no surprise that using text through messaging has become one of the preferred channels for engaging with businesses. Next, the important question becomes, “What types of interactions are the best fit for using chatbots?”

Chatbots can be effectively used in businesses where customer interactions are frequent, such as a business that needs to be prepared to handle customer service inquiries 24/7 or in situations where there are large peaks of inquiries.

Consider the following questions to better define a potential fit for chatbots. We populated this five-part questionnaire in response to the real-life scenario above to further present the need.

What state of mind are your customers in when contacting your business?
Slightly anxious, but not urgent while still being able to perform their daily functions with workarounds.

What is the reason for the customer reaching out?
The customer needs to know the status of their Internet service.

What is the typical response your company provides?
The company will need to provide a reason for the customer’s Internet status such as a widespread outage in their area or the account being deactivated.

What is the urgency required?
Somewhat urgent. The faster the customer has the information they need, the faster they can act (e.g. go to a friend’s house catch the final quarter).

What is the frequency of these interactions?
Interactions could happen 24/7, Daily, with several customers needing the same piece of information at once.

Where to begin?
Several chabot platforms exist to fit an array of business use cases, such as Chatfuel, Flow XO, Amazon Lex, Microsoft Bot Framework, and Meya. When determining the right chatbot platform for your business, it is important to first determine customer touchpoints that could best fit the use case. Use the questions outlined above in addition to mapping out all the customer touchpoints of a business. This will create the foundation to select the right platform.

Is a chatbot a tool that your organization could benefit from? To get started, first, ask yourself the questions above, then identify a customer touchpoint that could be a use case for a chatbot. Finally, find a platform that best fits the needs of the customer service channel. We advise starting out with a simple customer interaction, gathering feedback, and continuing to work through additional customer interactions.

About the Author

Max Brundige is a business and systems analyst for KSM Consulting. Daily, Max is focused on connecting people and process through the right application of technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.