How an Artificial Intelligence Chatbot Can Revolutionize Your Customer Support Operation

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artificial intelligence chatbot

Chances are, the last time you called a customer support number, you interacted with an artificial intelligence chatbot. If the company had a great AI chatbot, the interaction might have been so natural that it took a while to realize that you weren’t actually talking to a human.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance the types of experiences chatbots can deliver. But how can you know if implementing an AI chatbot is the right choice for your business? 

Here’s everything you need to know about these solutions, including how they work and the technology that allows them to deliver relevant and accurate information, simulate human conversations, and provide value to your operation.

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Chatbots

Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots use advanced technologies to automate customer interactions and enhance customer experiences in several ways: 

  • No waiting: AI chatbots answer calls and can provide immediate answers, even if call volume is high. 
  • 24/7 service: Unlike employees, chatbots are available around the clock every day, all year long. When you deploy a chatbot, you can offer customer service after regular business hours – anytime that’s convenient for your customers. 
  • Self-service: Intelligent chatbots integrated with your knowledge base, help center, or customer support database help deliver accurate, consistent information to your customers. They also provide the types of customer support experiences your customers are looking for. According to Statista, 88% of U.S. consumers expect businesses to have online portals. Moreover, a study by SOTI found that 73% of customers prefer self-service. 

What is a Chatbot Platform?

Chatbots have unique tasks to accomplish within each business. The questions they answer and the jobs they perform are different. Additionally, the chatbot’s persona that gives it a voice and a way to phrase responses can vary, so it has the most appeal to customers. Therefore, chatbots aren’t off-the-shelf solutions. You need to use a chatbot platform to tailor and maintain a chatbot that works for your business. 

The best chatbot platforms give you the tools you need to complete AI chatbot projects, even if you have limited technical skills. They also allow you to launch chatbots on the channels where your customers engage. You can allow your customers to interact with your chatbot on your website via SMS, phone, or mobile apps. You can also enable customer interactions on Facebook messenger or Apple Business Chat. 

Your AI chatbot platform can also help you test chatbots on different channels or media to find the most effective one. 

How Do Businesses Benefit From Chatbots?

Artificial intelligence chatbots can make customer experiences better with quick answers and resolutions, and 24/7 convenience. However, AI chatbots also have significant benefits for businesses implementing them. 

First, artificial intelligence can help overcome labor challenges. In the era of The Great Resignation, Salesforce reports that 69% of customer service agents have considered looking for jobs in other fields. Salesforce research also found that enhancing workflows with technology can result in 89% of employees feeling more satisfied with their jobs. 

With the assistance of an artificial intelligence chatbot, customer service teams don’t spend their time looking up account balances, tracking packages, or resetting passwords. Instead, they can focus on higher-value work, increase productivity, use problem-solving skills, and build strong customer relationships.

The best AI chatbots can even minimize the demand for labor in customer service, decreasing the number of calls agents have to take by handing them from start to finish. Additionally, training AI-powered chatbots in multiple languages, minimizes the need to hire multilingual employees or increase staff if your company expands across borders.

AI bots are also easier to scale than a team of human agents. If demand suddenly spikes, you can expand resources. Likewise, if call volume drops, you can scale down rather than deal with layoffs or carry unnecessary employees on the payroll. 

Furthermore, with artificial intelligence chatbots handling a significant fraction of customer service interactions and easily scaling to demand, operational costs decrease. 

Last, but not least, businesses that implement AI bots can collect more data than they could when customer service agents assist customers over the phone. Agents rarely have time to enter notes on each call, analyze a customer journey that led to them picking up the phone, or connect the dots between specific products and services and a higher volume of calls. 

Additionally, an AI chatbot solution can analyze sentiment among your customers and identify patterns that your team may have missed. Those insights can help you make informed decisions to enhance your offerings and service and strengthen your business competitively. 

Are All Chatbots Artificial Intelligence Chatbots?

Based on real-world experience with chatbots, you may have concluded that all chatbots don’t work the same way or use the same types of technology. Some leverage AI, while others don’t. 

What is Artificial Intelligence?

AI allows machines to process information similarly to the way that people do. AI chatbots are designed to have conversations, not work as answer bots that just spit out preprogrammed responses. 

How is Artificial Intelligence Used in Chatbots?

Conversational AI powers next-gen chatbots that understand customers when they speak in natural language, search data for relevant, contextual information, and generate a response in the conversational language your customers understand.

Conversational AI is often used with voice interfaces so customers can speak to a conversational bot. However, creating artificial intelligence chatbots with text interfaces allows customers to type their questions or requests and receive text responses. 

In either case, conversational AI requires a dialog manager to mimic the flow of human conversation. When developers achieve the rhythm and give-and-take of conversations, customers will be more comfortable – and more enthusiastic – about using chatbots and trusting them to provide the information they need. 

Are There Use Cases for Non-AI Chatbots?

It’s possible that a business can successfully deploy a solution that uses non-AI chatbot technology for some use cases. For example: 

  • Menu-based chatbots: If the chatbot is only intended to provide automated messages to a set of limited questions, a business could use a menu-based chatbot. This type of chatbot can greet website users and offer to direct them to specific pages. 
  • Rules-based chatbots: Sometimes called linguistic-based chatbots, these solutions use if-this-then-that (IFTTT) logic to enable automated conversations. These chatbot solutions require defining conditions, and if customer inquiries are generally worded in the same way, the chatbot can provide information. However, if customers ask questions in an unusual way, it may take a while for them to access the information they need. 

Artificial intelligence chatbots, however, can enhance customer experiences more than non-AI chatbots by moving technology to the background and allowing customers to simply speak (and type) as if they were talking to a customer service agent. 

What Kind of AI is Used in Chatbots?

To create conversational AI that delivers person-to-person-like interactions, artificial intelligence chatbots leverage several different types of AI:

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is the subset of AI that allows machines to understand language. It combines modeling human language with machine learning and deep learning so that it can use unstructured text or voice data and convert it to a format that a machine can understand. AI chatbot solution builders train the model to process that data and produce a response. 

Once the machine learning model is trained and tested to produce relevant, accurate real-world responses, it continues to learn based on follow-up questions or confirmation that the info is what the customer needs. 

Natural Language Understanding (NLU)

NLU technology gives machines the ability to understand language – but it’s more than just understanding dictionary definitions. It also allows the machine to discern the customer’s intent and even know what they are asking if they misspell a word, speak with an accent, or use unusual phrases.  

Natural Language Generation (NLG)

NLG is the type of AI that allows a computer to produce written or spoken answers. NLG is the technology behind branded virtual assistants, such as Google Assistant. In addition to virtual assistants designed for consumers, NLG can also enable virtual agents to provide information to callers reaching out for customer service. 

The Architecture of Artificial Intelligence Chatbots

A great artificial intelligence chatbot solution includes: 

  • A chat window or conversational interface allows your customers to interact with it
  • An interface to the chatbot platform that includes the NLP model
  • A model that connects to training data, or the “corpus,” which will allow your chatbot to answer questions accurately in the real world
  • The NLP also connects to your knowledge base or other databases that it will crawl and then use to respond to your customers or make decisions so it can accurately perform other tasks

Identifying Opportunities to Use an Artificial Intelligence Chatbot

Most companies can identify at least one way an AI chatbot can benefit operations. Here are some of the ways that businesses and organizations are using AI chatbots:

  • Call routing: Businesses that use interactive voice response (IVR) can use AI chatbots to route calls more accurately, saving time and money by shortening the time from customer requests to resolutions. 
  • Bookings and reservations: AI chatbots can access schedules to make appointments or reservations and automatically send confirmations, allowing employees to focus on other tasks.
  • Sales: AI chatbots can guide customers down the sales funnel and take orders or payments. 
  • Reception: Artificial intelligence chatbots can power virtual receptionists that welcome people to a business’s facility, help them print visitor credentials, and inform employees that their guests have arrived. 
  • Assistants for the visually impaired: AI chatbots can give people with visual impairments a way to interact easily with computers.
  • Voice-directed warehouse picking: Warehouse employees can use AI chatbots to provide information on orders and help them find their locations for efficient order fulfillment. 

AI Chatbots for Customer Service

Automating customer support is one of the most popular use cases for artificial intelligence chatbots. 

Chatbots can answer calls, provide answers or information when customers ask simple questions, and decrease the number of tickets the customer service team has to address. 

AI chatbots can also personalize customer experiences, tailoring interactions based on customer data. An AI chatbot can even call the customer by name and upsell or collect feedback on past purchases or engagements. 

Additionally, AI chatbots can make customer service teams’ jobs easier by collecting information and authenticating customers’ identities before a hand-off to a customer service agent. 

Chatbots Are Growing in Popularity

The wide range of use cases, benefits including time and cost savings, enhanced self-service customer experiences, and the demand for 24/7 service are leading to ever-rising chatbot adoption. Acumen Research and Consulting predicts a 23.7% CAGR in the chatbot market from 2022 to 2030, reaching $3.411 billion globally. 

The Best is Yet to Come

While artificial intelligence chatbots deliver value today and are poised for impressive growth, remember that artificial intelligence chatbots are a relatively new technology, and innovation continues. 

Developers continue to advance natural language processing, enhancing machines’ ability to carry on conversations with people. Additionally, businesses are exploring new use cases for AI chatbots that save time and money, enhance employee and customer experiences, and raise the bar on customer support. 

To learn more about the latest advances in chatbot technology, new innovation on the horizon, and the role chatbots will play in the coming years, download Forrester’s Future of Chatbots Report