Chatbots are in the midst of a huge growth phase. Chatbot programmers and AI researchers are still discovering new ways to use them as well as things they can’t do. Chatbots are already a lot more useful and practical for the average small business than they were even just a year ago. One of the most popular uses is in customer service. If you’re considering developing a chatbot for your business’s customer service needs, here are six things you’ll want your bot to be able to do.
Use natural language processing to understand what people are saying to them
Early chatbots operated very similar to automated phone answering systems–the kind you encounter when you are forced to call a customer service line and listen to a series of options before giving responses. Deviate in any way from the exact wording and the automated system will have no clue what you’re saying. You don’t want your chatbot to operate in this way. Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of artificial intelligence research geared towards creating machines that can understand language so that it isn’t limited to responding to several predetermined questions or requests. Your bot needs NLP if you want customers to be able to speak freely with it.
One of the things people don’t like about interacting with chatbots is that they can be cold and impersonal. A live customer service agent can defuse a bad interaction by showing empathy and relating to customers on a personal and emotional level. While chatbots may not be capable of feeling emotions like humans, they can be programmed to use empathetic language which can still have the same calming effect on customers.
Offer a personalized customer service experience
Your chatbot will need to be able to remember second- and third-time users. If your chatbot has access to previous conversations it can recall a person’s preferences and personal information. It can address the customer by name without having to ask for it and can make the customer feel important and appreciated.
Stay consistent in tone and personality
Chatbots are unsettling for many people. A way to reduce the unsettled feeling customers might get is to make sure your bot is consistent in tone and personality. If it fluctuates between friendly and conversational to being very straight-the-point and robotic, people will have trouble getting into the experience of chatting with your chatbot and may prefer to get on the phone instead.
Your chatbot will make mistakes daily. Don’t worry about creating a perfect chatbot because it’s impossible. The best you can hope for though is a chatbot that grows more accurate with each mistake. Through machine learning, you can feed your chatbot hundreds or thousands of customer service interactions so it can pick up on patterns to better understand what leads to failed and successful interactions.
Ask for help
If people invest several minutes into conversing with your bot only for your bot to get stuck and not be able to help, they then have to get on the phone which is probably what they were trying to avoid in the first place. It defeats the purpose of using a message-based platform in the first place. So if you’re going to invest in a chatbot, make sure your customer service team is equipped with the tools to be able to take over a failed chat session. Make sure your chatbot is able to recognize and admit failure early enough in the process that customers don’t grow frustrated and give up before a live agent can assist them.
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