Modern technologies can be both more and less amazing than conventional methods, tools or platforms. Automation, for example, can completely transform the way we work, altering just about every industry, from manufacturing to customer service.
But it also has its limitations, and in some cases — like with handcrafted goods — it’s just not a viable solution. In certain scenarios, automating a process might introduce more problems than the technology is worth.
The same is true for chatbots or automated customer service and communication tools. There are limits, always, and that means there are times we’ll have to work around them. But even as they stand, they offer considerable benefits and can be used to augment many processes or platforms.
Consider the most common chat or communication bot that answers a phone or hotline when you call. They create frustrating moments, yes, but the convenience of always-on support is worth the hassle for customers. These tools allow phone systems to remain operational even after hours.
Then there are the mobile and smart home virtual assistants that improve everyone’s daily lives. They have their uses, and leveraging them — in varying ways, of course — can help boost productivity and efficiency in a business environment, both for personnel and customers.
1. Streamlining the tedium
Many repetitive tasks workers and employees are forced to take on can be automated in some way. Cold calling potential customers, for example, could be improved upon in many ways; a computer system could make the initial outreach step and deliver solid contacts to human reps.
Chatbots happen to excel at routine and repetitive tasks, so much so that they’re often more efficient than their human counterparts. They never get tired or bored. They never lose focus. They're always available and alert. Furthermore, they're often faster to respond to customer queries because they have access to vast stores of data and information.
That’s what makes chatbots ideal for high-demand, low-level and routine work. Just because it's repetitive doesn't mean the tasks are any less important, especially when they're related to forward-facing parts of a business — such as customer support.
Amtrak case study
Amtrak, the renowned National Railroad Passenger Corporation, has an automated virtual assistant named Julie. At its core, Julie is nothing more than an advanced chatbot. She is designed to guide users through Amtrak’s online site, including assisting them with various actions like purchasing tickets, providing customer rewards info, or even finding station and route info.
This frees up online technicians and customer service reps, allowing them to handle more important and complex tasks while Julie provides basic service to Amtrak’s customers.
2. Information gathering and problem solving
This use case is incredibly versatile, and if you've ever used Amazon Echo or Google Home devices, then you can probably understand why.
Imagine an entire office outfitted with smart gadgets, where people can adjust the air, turn off lights or interact with office equipment all via a voice-enabled chatbot. We can leverage chatbots like a personal or digital assistant, which have numerous uses for efficiency. Alexa, for example, can make appointments, schedule and edit calendar updates, set alarms or look up queries. For employees and internal staff, this could be an invaluable tool.
Chatbots can also enhance the customer experience, as well. Sure, your employees have questions and need answers, but so do your customers. A forward-facing chatbot can answer such questions, direct customers to the appropriate page or take action for them, just like Julie does.
Expensify case study
Expensify employs a chatbot named “Concierge” that can simplify the expense report and travel arrangement process for various companies. It will go step-by-step with users through an involved process to help identify potential issues and create more accurate descriptions. The chatbot has helped reduce banking problems by as much as 75 percent.
3. Enhancing personalization
People often have a selective memory, which makes it difficult to manage, store and process the preferences and needs of hundreds — if not thousands — of customers at a time. To help, we've come up with a multitude of digital tools and software that can record and report this information — provided it’s entered correctly in the first place.
Chatbots can also help simplify this process. By nature, they are already tapped into a vast data storage and processing system, mainly thanks to AI technologies. When interacting with customers, bots can use the information gathered to build an accurate profile, which they can then reference during subsequent interactions to provide a more individualized experience. AI and machine learning platforms are especially great for this.
HealthTap case study
HealthTap has delivered a Facebook Messenger powered chatbot that works to provide accessible healthcare and support to everyone, which is available through the mobile app.
Customers and users ask the bot a health-related question, and it will analyze the query and show related results from other users' requests. They then present the answers as a list, and all include an option to see more. If someone wants to know more, they’ll see additional responses, including details from health professionals such as an answer to the question, or a reference to guides or informative articles.
If none of the answers tell users what they want to know, they can choose to refer it to a doctor, who will then respond within 24 to 48 hours. It’s an impressive system that tailors the conventional Q&A experience for each user.
Chatbots: Improving the World
Any way you look at it, chatbots can be used to improve or enhance various processes resulting in better efficiency, productivity and returns. It’s all about how you develop and deploy such systems, and what you hope to achieve. The sky’s the limit.