Bots, because customers can’t Google

Date:26 May 2017 Author: Nikky Knijf Tags:, , ,

Bots are closing communication gaps between customers and businesses by answering simple and frequently asked questions. This way companies hope to have their staff focus on more in-depth questions and customer issues.

But now you might ask, what are bots? Simply put they’re software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet. Bots can manage simple tasks, including answering easy questions, e.g. what size can my airplane carry-on luggage be.

See, many (if not most) questions can be answered by using search engines like Google. You know: Google it. But often customers prefer human interactions in customer service.

Why human customer service works

Humans – as opposed to bots – can adapt to the customers needs. Marketing professor at the Wharton University of Pennsylvania Americus Reed said in an article: “When a human is in the interaction, there is an opportunity to course-correct, and that’s less the case with chatbots”.

So even though a customer can search for an answer using a browser – especially if it is very basic many users insist on contacting companies directly to ask their question. And in the multi-platform connected world we live in, it’s easier than ever before to get in touch with a company. One simply has to send them a message on Facebook, email the company or Tweet them. Companies can respond to the increase in customer queries through cost-effective software that will handle basic queries.

Reed’s colleague from the same department, Jonah Berger, said the key is how bots are used. “The challenge for these companies is how to do it in a way that allows them to save money but doesn’t degrade the customer interaction.”

Speaking at the Botcon 2017 conference in Cape Town, Angelique Kamara the head of Messenger Platform Partnerships explained how some companies have integrated bots in their communication systems. These bots assist with customer support, give customers e-commerce and aid interactive experiences.

But why would companies need to use bots?

Facebook says more 2 billion messages are exchanged between customers and companies every month. With Twitter and through email, the number is as staggering.

To deal with the influx in customer queries Facebook (which owns Messenger) integrated bots to help with the influx of customer queries. The company explains why they’ve decided to integrate bots on the Messenger platform: “Bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them.”

The truth is that although there might be a cost-saving element for companies, it helps both the company and its customers. Bots can close communication gaps, i.e. answering queries after hours and serving customers faster then their human counterparts.

Some bot success stories

HealthTap, an American company specialising in accessible healthcare, integrated bots to their website to help visitors to their site receive quick answers to medical questions that were previously covered.

The local insurance company Simply has integrated bots into their Messenger to replicate the quote request system on their website.

International beauty company Sephora use bots for customer requests pertaining to store location, services, and to book appointments.


Image credit: Jack Moreh

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