Siobhain Goodall has over 20 years of experience in contact centre solutions and is the head of business development at Mpl Contact. Here, she explains the differences between three chats that SMEs are starting to use more and more: Livechat, Chatbot, and Intelligent Chat
By providing an excellent customer service experience, a true competitive differentiator can be established. Through implementing these effective tools into your business strategy, this could lead to an increased engagement and understanding of your customers which consequently helps with retention.
Many SME owners decide to deal with their own customer service in the classic 9-5 working hours. However, 82% of people have stopped doing business with a company completely due to a bad customer service experience which could be inclusive of not being available outside of the core working hours. The majority of your customers may need your business the most at the weekend or in the evening, so don’t leave them disappointed.
I have outlined some of the core chat solutions that are becoming increasingly popular with businesses who are trying to provide exceptional customer service. I will begin to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each system, concluding improvements that could be made to your customer service which could help with the creation of long lasting customer relationships.
A live chat is an online customer service software that allows real-time conversations with your customers. Live chat can be used to help manage all customer service activities and sales queries, with a guaranteed personalised experience as human interaction is still involved. A real amount of empathy can be ingrained into the live conversations between adviser and customer, which could lead the customer to feel significantly more satisfied.
Disadvantages, however, include that agents may not be knowledgeable in particular areas of the queries asked, especially as they are not distributed to specific skilled teams, and tend therefore to be handled by a more general team This could lead to a longer response time and the customer feeling impatient and unvalued if they’re not kept updated with the delay, leaving a negative personal experience in their mind. Also, there is usually a word limit within live chat systems, potentially creating a hinderance with effectively relaying information to customers, as opposed to over email or using a telephone.
Customers want help on demand therefore, live chat could compliment out of hours call handling. Call handling is a strong solution in any customer service team as people want to communicate with another human being in an industry that is becoming increasingly faceless. Robotic and AI communications do have their place within contact solutions especially through chatbots.
Chatbots have increased in deployment within customer services experiences by providing a service powered by rules, and sometimes involve AI with a chat interface – which will be covered more in depth later. Chatbots are interactive software platforms that can be combined with many different platforms, including the Facebook Messenger app, working extremely well on smartphones.
Advantages include; the ability to deal with a large amount of conversations simultaneously due to their robotic nature – suggesting an increased efficiency of the chatbot tool, a 24/7 system of support for the convenience of your customers and helping to build relationships and promote brand loyalty by staying in touch with customers, allowing the consumers to experience something a lot more personalised.
A disadvantage includes how chatbots will still only work if customers ask specific questions, with no spelling mistakes to confuse the bot. Suggesting how consumers may still miss the human contact and emotional response to queries. Despite this, Business Insider Intelligence states that 80% of businesses will still want chatbots by 2020, suggesting that chatbots are here to stay.
Advancements of the chatbot include the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand what consumers really want from the business, by understanding the full sentences and synonyms and not just analysing the keywords.
Extreme advancements in AI are expected to continue into 2018 and beyond. These intelligent systems are likely to be of a great help to solve simple problems fast and effectively, with a more personalised experience that makes it hard to distinguish between a human or robot response due to the emotional response focus to help connect with consumers.
This relatively new intelligent tool initially needs a significant amount of training to understand the processes, which is likely to be extremely time costly for an SME. Although the intelligent chat is likely to show an emotional side to consumers, a human touch is sometimes still missed.
It would be very much worthwhile considering the advantages and disadvantages of each of these tools directly for your business and assess if it would be beneficial to test all three tools. Whatever the perceived outcome, the primary focus should be on enhancing your customer service for the foreseeable future to effectively communicate with previous and potential customers.