Artificial Intelligence has attracted a lot of attention lately, and will certainly continue to do so as the technology rapidly improves. AI covers a wide range of possibilities, some of which will not appear until well into the future. But one area where AI is already gaining momentum is in the use of bots, specifically “chatbots”, on the web.
Bots are capable of a wide variety of actions, from request handling to tracking packages to reserving hotel rooms. But one of the most common usages of bots is in engaging and supporting customers. In e-commerce scenarios, bots are helping to streamline and accelerate customer involvement; in support, bots are interacting with customers and providing answers 24×7.
At first, there was skepticism over whether bots could deliver on their economic promise. Over the last several years, however, bots are proving their value by bringing substantial returns on investment when used to automate customer service and support.
Bots Bring Benefits to Businesses
What do Amtrak, 1-800 Flowers, Marriott, Sephora, and Snap-Travel have in common? They are all enterprises that are seeing financial returns from the use of bots:
- Amtrak’s Ask Julie chatbot reached 800% ROI, increased bookings by 25%, and saved an estimated $1 million in one year in customer service costs.
- 1-800 Flowers reports that over 70% of orders placed via their Facebook chatbot came from new customers.
- Marriott is using its chatbot, ChatBotlr, to expand services to guests and increase bookings.
- Sephora’s bot increased makeover appointments by 11%.
- Snap-Travel uses its chatbot to find hotel deals for its customers, saving on human agents.
Clearly, companies that deploy bots are saving money. Of course, not every installation works out miraculously well – there is a need to structure the bot correctly, define its domain, and provide a robust data set for the bot to use.
However, when set up properly, chatbots can provide substantial benefits. And customers, especially the younger generations, are looking for self-service, online support. According to an IBM report, 65% of U.S. millennials prefer to get their support online instead of speaking to in-store staff.
Growing Demand for Online Self-service
With growing demand for online support, many organizations are realizing that chatbots can fill this need at a surprisingly low cost. Companies benefit from chatbots in a variety of ways, such as:
- Addressing Redundant Questions: A significant number of customer service questions — as high as 80% in some cases —are redundant. The same questions get asked over and over again, which is perfect for chatbots. The bots simply search for the relevant answer and provide it to the customer. When the bot does not know the answer, it can ask more questions or transfer the interaction to a customer service agent.
- 24 x 7 First Level Support: Chatbots enable organizations to immediately answer service inquiries at any time of day or night. The cost of maintaining 24-hour customer support can be significantly reduced or re-allocated within the support infrastructure.
- Learning from Mistakes: A core concept of AI is that exposure to real-world problem solving improves the accuracy of the bot. Bots, like humans, can learn quickest from their mistakes. Unlike humans, though, bots don’t quit or retire – all the training that has gone into them stays in the company as long as the bot is in service.
- All of these scenarios reduce the operational costs of maintaining customer service departments while providing faster responses.
Bots: “We help you help them”
Does this mean customer service employees need to find another career? Not at all — bots supplement the staff and relieve them of the burdensome mind-numbing, repetitive questions. This gives staff more time to do useful work.
Already, bot technology is helping support personnel to be more productive. Instead of wasting time answering the same questions over and over, bots enable service and support technicians to:
- Focus on more important tasks, such as training and improving customer service processes.
- Update and maintain support documentation, such as knowledge bases and articles.
- More effectively address second-level support questions.
- Spend more time with customers and improve overall engagement.
Note: Crow Canyon has introduced at chatbot for SharePoint. See this blog post, A Bot is Born.
Compelling Economic Argument for Bots
Not long ago, chatbots were in the “let’s wait and see” category, with some initial bot deployments producing ridiculous and inappropriate responses. But fast forward to 2018: Chatbots have improved substantially and businesses are using them to reduce costs and speed up response times. The momentum is growing. It is predicted that by 2022, businesses will save more than $8 billion per year due directly to chatbot technology — while providing a better, more engaging customer experience.
With savings like that, the economic argument for bots becomes crystal clear.
Crow Canyon Software delivers the power of a connected, digital workplace to your organization, helping you be more successful and competitive. We provide the tools that allow you to gain the maximum benefit from SharePoint and Office 365, Microsoft’s premier collaboration platforms.
Want to learn about how our business productivity applications for SharePoint and Office 365 can power up your organization? Give us a call at 1-925-478-3110 or contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!