Chatbots and live chats are the faces of future customer interactions: they are excellent tools to push customer service further, generate qualified leads, combat frustrating user experiences and let people interact with each other on your website. Here’s a guide to help you to get yours.
Imagining a world where people can only reach out to companies through phone calls, emails, or in person-to-person is very unlikely. Whether your consumers want simple pieces of information, paying bills, or solving complicated problems, they expect you to reply as instantly as possible.
And they aren’t wrong. In the last few years, technology brought on innovations that have become extremely popular when it comes to customer experience and support, allowing users to get their problems solved in a matter of seconds. Complaining, making a reservation, buying a product – everything is one click away.
This new possibility has deeply changed the ways customers communicate with organizations. According to IBM, for example, 70% of consumers prefer messaging to calling for support. It isn’t hard to understand why: messages are faster, easier to type, and more convenient than hanging on the line or waiting for an email to be replied.
Gladly, there is a wide variety of mechanisms available for you to let your audience message you as immediately as they want – and get answers as soon as they deserve. Yes, we’re talking about chatbots!
There’s no way out: chatbots are here to stay. With so many advances in artificial intelligence (AI), they are a promising way for computers to make the most out of fascinating customer experiences. It has nothing to do with communicating with robots: it is a learning technology driven to customer care.
That being said, if you don’t have a well-designed and built chatbot already, you’re definitely missing out on it.
Don’t worry, though! We’ve prepared a complete guide to chatbots to help you learn what they’re about, their importance, how they work, and how to create yours!
What is a chatbot?
Chatbots are software applications that simulate real conversations between companies and their customers to understand what they want. Also known as conversational agents, chatbots are present in desktop and web applications, solo mobile apps, and SMS systems.
Although AI and machine learning have been used to impersonate human behavior way before that, chatbot fever was boosted in 2016. Back then, Facebook used its own Messenger app to demonstrate how chatbots are a powerful tool for customer service, regardless of the channels they use to talk to organizations. Social media, web and mobile applications, messaging apps… Chatbots could be any and everywhere.
And they are! Years later, from online retail to government, many companies got in the game and embedded bots’ technology to their websites. It is very common to come across chatbots in spaces reserved exclusively for customer service – although they have an amazing potential to do more. Different goals imply different types of chatbots. Want to recommend the best product? Lead users to a human assistant? Let them interact with each other? Chatbots can do that and much more!
How do chatbots work?
To put it out simply, a chatbot needs to take three basic actions:
- Understand context and human language
- Analyze the user’s requests
- Return the best response
Chatbots’ answers might differ. They can be a generic text, a piece of information based on existing data, or even a question to point people in the right direction.
If a chatbot can’t properly understand what users say and identify what they want, they fail at their core task. We can say a nicely designed chatbot is focused on understanding and responding correctly as much as it is ready to get smarter by processing information patterns. And, thanks to AI, these three basic chatbot actions are completely achievable.
Before we jump on to explaining how chatbots work, we need to divide them into three main categories: rules-based chatbots, AI chatbots, and live chat.
As the name suggests, rules-based chatbots follow predesigned paths. They act based on clicks, such as “Yes” and “No”.
If you want to schedule a meeting with a company’s sales team, for example, a rules-based chatbot will ask you a couple of questions with predetermined answers that can be clicked on. As you click on the options that suit you best, the technology behind this type of chatbot qualifies your requests and redirects you to the right solution. In this case, it will probably schedule a sales meeting for you.
A rules-based chatbot dialogue is tightly structured. That means people can’t interact much with them, outside their specific-programmed questions and answers. It might be a good option if you intend on providing controlled experiences and guide users to specific goals.
This is how rules-based chatbots pretty much work like:
AI chatbots are intimately connected to machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) since their ultimate goal is to mimic and learn from human behavior patterns. Like Apple’s Siri and Google Now, NLP complex algorithms allow bots to comprehend human language and determine a bunch of appropriate answers based on the user’s speech.
AI chatbots are perfect for interacting with your customers and gather information about them. Want to know why people are checking your page? You can ask them! Want to guide them through your blog? Recommend articles that might interest them? Help them make reservations faster? Give them ideas? AI chatbots will certainly help!
You might be wondering how these complex algorithms happen to, once in a while, sound robotic. The answer is that NPL is constantly being optimized to deal with the particular nuances of human communication. Some metaphors might still be hard for bots to interpret – and that’s understandable. However, artificial intelligence and NPL make it possible for a chatbot to go through massive data sets, like keyword matching, previous experiences, and algorithms that translate users’ inputs, to get smarter over time.
And these bots have never been bolder. AI progress is being made so fastly that Juniper Research found out that, by 2022, chatbot implementation will help companies save about $8 billion in customer service costs per year.
Gartner states that, in the upcoming years, AI will be a mainstream customer experience investment. This is probable, as AI is essential to automatic learning and to optimize the interpretation of virtual communications. It won’t shock you that, in this context, 47% of organizations will use chatbots for customer care in the near future, while 40% of them will deploy virtual assistants to support their consumers.
# Subscribe and stay on top of news on our blog
Live chats are sat on providing special chats to your audience, where they can interact with other people in real-time conversations. Interactions can happen between your team and your customer or between users only.
If you’re willing to let people chat about a single event or a permanent discussion on your website, live chats are the most accurate solution to keep your community on your page and take back your audience’s ownership. They can also be an exclusive place for followers to discuss products, launches, and news.
A few live chats advantages are that they handle complex speech better than chatbots and make it possible for human agents to have multiple conversations at once. It also gives online chatting a human touch and connection that progress in machine learning and AI can’t, and those never go out of style.
A live chat example can be found on The Japan Times’ live blog. There, readers from around the world can keep track of real-time occurrences regarding the Coronavirus crisis and its outbreaks in Japan. The newspaper uses a live chat to allow users to exchange information and discuss regulations, breaking news, announcements, and events.
In the same pandemic context, Harvest has enabled a live chat on its website to connect its audience while they’re at home. By promoting online church schedules, Harvest followers can come together in live events and interact with each other.
Those are only a few examples of how live chat can create a unique sense of community, especially when it comes to live events. Users and followers don’t simply want to digest information later – with all the digital transformation consequences, they thrive for spaces they can talk to other people while action takes place.
Live chats should be greatly considered if you’re looking for a way to drive traffic to your website and allow real-time conversations between your followers. It is also an efficient way to connect users with sales and support reps to get real-time support.
Benefits of using chatbots
- Be available for support 24/7Unlike human assistants, chatbots are an uninterrupted support option. A chatbot doesn’t need to drink water, go on coffee breaks, or stretch out. It doesn’t get sick or stuck on traffic. Whether people might want a quick answer at 3 p.m. or in late-night hours, chatbots will respond to them quickly. So, if you want to be available to your customer at all times, chatbots are certainly for you.
- Respect your customers’ timeIt’s no surprise that people don’t like waiting. If they can’t message your company to get quick answers, you’re probably frustrating them and making your competitors a favor.
- Dynamize customer experienceIf your chatbot is enabled and ready to solve your public’s problems at any time, anywhere, you’re taking customer experience to a whole new level. Another benefit is that concentrating real-time communication in chatbots and live chats keeps people from searching for basic details that could be hard to find, such as operating hours and phone numbers.
- Avoid traffic waste and increase engagementWhat is the use of putting so much effort into bringing users to your website if you can’t keep them there? Chatbots give your customers a chance to solve their problems quickly, get personalized guidance, and interact with each other during online live sessions. As a consequence, your website passes the message that it is the go-to place when users need to have their questions answered or talk about their interests. This increases the time spent on your website, engross conversion rate, and avoid traffic waste.
- Reduce costsChatbots reduce expenses by automating business processes and shortening response time. According to Chatbots Magazine, companies can reduce customer service costs by up to 30% by using virtual agents. Having a chatbot can also help to free human resources for more complex tasks.
- Widen sales possibilitiesToday, it is almost impossible for organizations to give exclusive attention to every person and lead. Still, a chatbot can proactively greet every user accessing a website. Using chatbots to qualify leads is an excellent way to speed sales processes and save time, filling your pipeline with more qualified leads and valuable information that go straight to your CRM. Bots can also feed leads with appropriate content that will attract them to your solutions and services. They can demonstrate catalogs, upsell products, and make recommendations according to customer’s existing data and preferences. It’s a creative way to promote the content your team has spent time creating.
- Avoid churnSometimes, consumers get frustrated and need urgent replies that can’t be given right away by a human assistant. When a chatbot is available, it is more likely that users will have an accurate and immediate response to what they’re looking for, and it helps you to avoid churn that would be caused by asking your customer to hang on the line for a couple of minutes or to wait for an e-mail in the next 48 hours.
- Easy to embed One of the reasons chatbots are so popular is that companies don’t need to hire programmers with sharp technical skills to create them. Not much coding experience is required either. Actually, it is possible to paste one line of code or drop an interface to have a chat embedded on your website in less than a minute.
Chats are the face of future customer interactions and people will expect you to have one on your website. That is why we’ve prepared the next topic to shed some light on how to create yours.
Creating a chatbot
There are several options for creating a chatbot, although two alternatives can be highlighted: using code-based frameworks to develop chats from scratch or easily adding them to your website through chatbot platforms.
If you have the right data science, human resources, and machine learning knowledge, you can consider developing a chatbot of your own. Still, we advise you to look for chatbot solutions that can be smoothly added to your website, with minimal work (from your part) involved.
In order to help you figure out how to create your chatbot, let’s take a step back and focus on some crucial details:
1. Focus on the why
The first thing you need to do is to clarify why you want a chatbot. What is your goal? Is it to give more efficient support to your customers? Is it to let users interact with each other and discuss your products? Is it to generate more qualified leads? Or is it to gather more data about your audience?
Whatever it is, the reason why you’re building a chatbot should lead you throughout the process and also help you decide what chatbot type you want. Perhaps a rules-based chatbot will be enough, or maybe you better consider taking a further step and using an AI one. You can even find the right balance and decide you want two types of chats on your page to deliver better customer experience. It depends on your intentions.
Insight: it is possible to simultaneously use different types of chats on a single website to provide real-time service. Both live chats and chatbots are excellent tools to reply instantly to users and can be combined to make the most out of a customer service experience.
Your human assistants can be online and reply to users in live chats as much as they can enable AI chatbots if there are too many questions to reply to. Mixing ideas and solutions can make you resolve issues and get to people faster than you imagine, giving them the best of both worlds.
Knowing your audience is essential to make this decision, and customer care must be the core of it.
2. Find the right chatbot platform
It is determining to find chatbot platforms that can be integrated into your business strategy. Chatbots don’t only chat, as you might have noticed: they have to be personalized and automate processes that will save you money and time.
Chatbot platforms can push your strategy further or sink with them. To succeed in finding the best platform, make sure it is easy for your team to manage. Most importantly, it should equally match your public’s needs. A chatbot that is perfectly integrated into your CRM but gives users a horrid experience can turn your expectations into a nightmare.
As we’ve mentioned, chatbots can be created in less than one minute by embedding a piece of code into a website. And don’t think velocity is a synonym for basic here. As fast to embed as it is, Arena’s live chat solution goes beyond superficial setups. It contains powerful moderation tools, like measuring online presence and muting troublemakers. Plus, you won’t have to worry about chats blocking your screen during live events, as our live chat works on any website and is highly responsive.
Take a look at how to easily add a live chat to your blog below:
3. Personalize the conversation
Designing a chatbot conversation might take you a while, but it is a must. Depending on your purpose, your chatbot can have straightforward or complex interactions that will demand AI or a simple decision tree.
Scripts here can both follow structured and unstructured interactions. Understanding why users would use a chatbot on your website will guide you to make the best questions and set up accurate touchpoints with your customers. There’s a lot of room to innovate and be creative here.
Another detail you should carefully pay attention to: make sure your dialogues are aligned with the way your brand communicates its ideas and solutions.
4. Don’t forget human support
Yes, chatbots are amazing and are about to rule the world of customer experience. Still, putting so much effort into a perfect chatbot will only be ruined if you provide your users with poor human support.
Surely, a chatbot facilitates interactions and free human agents to deal with more complex matters. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train human agents to intervene if it comes to it. Keep in mind that, even if 40% of consumers don’t care whether a chatbot or a real person helps them, not all customers are ready to deal with chatbots. Some will feel better with human-to-human interactions – so you can make human assistants step in when necessary.
Last, but not least, have people know how to configure, train, and optimize your chatbot system.
Use chatbot and live chat to boost your customer engagement
As you’ve seen, live chat and chatbots are becoming an essential workpiece for companies that provide digital experiences and want to have loyal customers. Possibilities are countless: from giving simple and complex information to connecting audiences, chats are the perfect tools.
By combining chatbots with live chats, customer experience can be elevated in fascinating ways. You can keep repetitive tasks to bots and complex queries to live agents, adjusting your service strategy to what users need.
Arena uses a powerful AI technology to make sure that happens, especially when it comes to live events and the customer engagement they provide.
Still learning? Check out our Live Chat Guide!
You can also install and test the Live Group Chat Arena solution for free.