Since automation has already taken over most parts of our lives, from booking a cab to ordering food online, there is no reason for customer support to be any different. Chatbots, as will be evident soon, are one of the most efficient and cost saving ways for a business to automate their customer service operations.

The inflow of demand in the customer service industry is such that automation has become a non-negotiable entity for companies. There is no way for humans to manually sit and screen all the calls, e-mails and social media posts and then try to resolve them. Even the customers can’t do without it, what with them becoming increasingly tech-friendly.
Chatbots, on the other hand, are not and cannot be human, which admittedly is the most used argument against the use of Chatbots. However, with advances in Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing, Chatbots can think and respond to queries like humans do. The gaining popularity of the text message medium is a strong driving force in this domain.

Benefits of automated customer support

A study showed that through the use of Chatbots, 30% of the contact center staff in the US can be freed up, saving a staggering USD 23 billion for companies. Training costs of staff is another benefit that businesses can reap by integrating Chatbots in the customer support experience. it cost $4000 to hire an agent and another $4800 to train them.

Given Chatbots will have data of a customer’s preferences, previous queries and purchasing history, Chatbots can give a personalised the customer service experience. Big data analysis coupled with machine learning will allow analysis of thousands of gigabytes of data we generate in our lifetimes and cater to individuals like humans can not.

According to a study by Capterra, 72% people attribute their bad customer care experience to explaining their problem to multiple people. Another Zendesk study showed that B2C 42% customers purchased more after a good customer service experience and 52% stopped buying altogether after a bad one. Automation minimizes human intervention and with it, the scope of wasted effort, human bias and human error.

Self-serving customer resources like FAQs—which according to Salesforce are the primary go-to destinations for 39% of millennials in case of a query—also help reduce the potential of repeated queries and makes room for human employees to deal with more complex tasks.

Free automation of its bad name

While automated customer support has seeped into our lives in more ways than one, it has still not earned the kind of respect the progressive technology demands. The reason for this is bad implementation.

A TechCrunch article suggested that as AI bots improve over time, consumers will be able to receive a quicker response to their queries. Imagine being able to book an appointment via text in 30 seconds compared to the 2-5 minutes it takes currently by calling.

Customer service, when automated, is not constrained to public holidays and time zones. Customers can and will be able to receive real-time support as automated bots will be available 27/7. automated feedback will with time build up trust in the brand and help the reputation of the business.

Facebook caught on this trend in a timely manner and allows businesses to communicate to their customers using their own bots through the Messenger platform. At F8, Mark Zuckerberg highlighted the pitfalls of having to download a new application for every business and the importance of communicating with a business much like we communicate with friends and family.

To human or not to human

According to data by Interactive Intelligence Group, 75% customers look for short response times while dealing with customer support, which is followed by other factors like cross-channel consistency (55%) and knowledgeable staff (52%).
Automation doesn’t mean removing the human contact but using it effectively and more optimally. It is important to have a fallback on humans as completely automated systems can develop independent bugs.

The key is to find that sweet spot between automation and authenticity. If a customer feels like his grievance redressal process was seamless and personal at the same time, it’s a win-win. A proactive approach towards emotional engagement has a higher value than most businesses would like to think.

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