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Author: Craig Besnoy |04/13/18

What Do Chatbots Mean for Customer Service?

Chatbots are computer programs that people interact with via a chat interface―whether that is a messaging app, a chat window, or even by voice. They are powered by rules and often artificial intelligence, and some are even equipped with natural language processing capabilities. Essentially, users can have conversations with chatbots just like they would with family and friends.

Specifically in the realm of customer service, chatbots have become increasingly popular in the past two or so years. As digital assistants, they are available 24/7 to handle customers’ problems and requests both efficiently and inexpensively. Rather than searching through menus and screens, customers can place orders or get their issues resolved by someone who “listens” to them. Chatbots reduce the cost of customer service and allow human customer service representatives to handle more complex issues since the chatbots are programmed to answer the easier questions.

Chatbots are most effective when customer requests are within a specific area with well-known and predictable solutions. Generally, conversations follow patterns that can translate across industries. For example, people can use chatbots to book hotel rooms, order food, and obtain information about a bank account.

At Mindtree, we have been accelerating the speed with which our clients can get ahead by customizing and adding specific detail to conversation formulas and decision trees. In addition to these formulas and patterns, we have a unique ability to integrate and extract data from multiple platforms and sources―such as the weather or the stock market―to create more complicated (and therefore more effective) patterns. An example of our success in this area is our creation of a business-to-employee chatbot for a large consumer products company. The chatbot was implemented worldwide to dramatically increase employees’ interactions with the HR department. These increased interactions with a department that is usually bogged down with requests created happier employees and ultimately a more successful company.

If your company is not already using chatbots as part of its digital customer service strategy, here’s how to start. Firstly, familiarize yourself with how chatbots are being used in all industries, not just your own. Understanding how your customers use messaging applications in their daily lives will be beneficial as your company moves toward adopting these technologies. Secondly, assess the potential of chatbots in your organization specifically and determine what kinds of issues chatbots could help to resolve. Lastly, run a pilot to learn how effective the chatbot is and with which use cases it succeeds. We know that chatbots are well-equipped to handle routine issues, but struggle when problems involve emotions, empathy, or out-of-the-box solutions. The key here is to find the sweet spot where chatbots have the highest impact.

Ultimately, the most important task for an organization exploring chatbots is to pick the battles wisely. Chatbots cannot solve all problems, but if used appropriately, they can be powerful tools in automating everyday tasks, thus freeing the workforce for more complicated and strategic activities.

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