Using Chatbots for better customer engagement – benefits, use cases and examples
Chatbots are an example of an AI technology that has already made the leap from leading-edge to the mainstream. Eliza, who is considered the first chatbot, was developed by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT in 1966 – over 50 years ago. While Eliza's capabilities were minimal compared to today's chatbots, at the time, she was one of the first examples of a machine that could respond to questions in a way that would feel human (at times).
Chatbots have come a long way since Eliza and are now used by millions of businesses globally. This is partly due to the availability of out-of-the-box chatbot solutions. Businesses no longer need to develop their own AI solutions to leverage things like chatbots. A number of providers offer chatbots that only need to be fed the relevant data, and they are good to go.
Today, businesses use chatbots for a variety of functions including timesheets, expenses, FAQs, feedback and, of course, customer service. As customers are getting more familiar and comfortable with talking to machines and machines are getting better and better at responding like humans, the applications around customer engagement will continue to grow. With customer retention and satisfaction more important than ever, businesses who do not embrace the opportunities chatbots offer will likely be left behind.
There are many possible use cases for chatbots that help businesses provide better customer engagement. They include:
- Answering customer questions - Providing customers with detailed information about products and services - Resolving a complaint or problem - Making a purchase - Making a payment - Making an appointment or reservation - Getting customer feedback - Receiving support, for example, on how to use a product
As the technology behind chatbots continues to evolve, the list of use cases will continue to grow, and the extent to which chatbots can perform each task will improve.
The benefits of this are clear. Chatbots can provide more accurate information, when and where the customer wants it. They can personalise the experience for each individual customer, they can engage with multiple customers at the same times, they don’t sleep and don’t need breaks and, once up and running, are much cheaper to maintain than a human customer service team.
Given these benefits, it’s no surprise that leading companies are at the forefront of leveraging and expanding the use of chatbots in their customer engagement efforts.
One example of this is the Royal Bank of Scotland. As outlined in the book Artificial Intelligence in Practiceby Bernard Marr, they use IBM's Watson to power it's customer service chatbot Cora. Engineers designed Cora to know over 1,000 responses to over 200 frequent customer queries. But Vora does not just know what it's been taught. The chatbot has continued to learn since it's been implemented and, therefore, gets better and better and responding to more and more customer inquiries.
Right now, if conversations get too complicated, Cora connects the customer to a real human from the customer service team. However, the number of cases in which that happens in decreasing rapidly. Cora can already handle about 40% of all customer queries and up to 80% of all commercial banking issues. And this rate will increase further as the bot gains more experience interacting with humans.
Another business that leverages IBM’s machine learning technology to enhance customer engagement is stationary supplier Staples. However, instead of building their own chatbot like the Royal Bank of Scotland did, Staples chose to build on an existing platform that their customers are already using – Facebook Messenger. Staples' Facebook Messenger bot can answer common customer questions about things like the status of orders and the availability of products.
With the Facebook Messenger bot, Staples' customers get quicker, more accurate responses to their questions and the customer service team can focus their time on the important and complex issues that bots can't handle – yet.
The list of other businesses that use chatbots is seemingly endless. From coffee giant Starbucks to rideshare app Lyft, Pizza Hut, The Wall Street Journal Spotify, Mastercard and many more – businesses around the world are increasingly using chatbots to better engage customers in a scalable way.
At Cognition, we have partnered with Uneeq, a leader in the field of Digital Humans, to deliver digital assistance ranging from chatbots through to digital human assistants. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you leverage chatbots and other AI technology in your business, follow the link below to learn more or get in touch with us today.
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