Everyone feels a little social anxiety from time to time. Whether you live with a bunch of roommates, have to attend a meeting with 20 other people, or have to call your dentist to make an appointment, sometimes, sometimes you just can't deal with other people.

Or maybe that's just me.

Either way, I was heartened to learn that, in a recent survey, 65% of respondents said they felt good about themselves and the company when they can handle customer service issues without talking to a live person. Most customers wanted to be able to solve problems on their own through self-service instead of having to hop on a phone call -- and that's where chatbots can help.

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Chatbots are growing in popularity, and one common use case is for live customer service chat, where customers can start communicating with a chatbot to resolve routine service issues -- with the option to connect with a live, human agent to solve more complicated problems.

However, implementing a chatbot into your customer service team can be tricky. So, in this post, we'll review how should be using live chat for customer service and break down some best practices to keep in mind when adopting a chatbot.

Businesses of all sizes should be using live chat because of the advantages it provides to customer service teams. For example, reps can work with multiple customers at once, improving productivity in their day-to-day workflow. And, with the addition of chatbots, companies can expand the bandwidth of their support teams without hiring more reps.

Before we move on, let's dive into a few more benefits that chatbots will provide to your business.

Benefits of Chatbots

Customer service reps enjoy chatbots because they free up time spent answering basic questions on the phone with customers. These simple requests take up 70-80% of the typical rep's day, and if chatbots take over those quick fixes, customers would be happier avoiding a phone call and customer service reps would have more time for proactive customer support.

Another benefit of adopting a chatbot is that customers would receive faster responses. In fact, studies show that 61% of consumers believe that chatbots provide faster resolutions than human reps. When it comes to simple problems, it's tough for humans to beat a computer's lightning-fast processers that can sort through thousands of keywords each second. That's why bots are an excellent extension of your knowledge base, FAQs, and community forums, where they can distribute resources based on the customer's comments.

Additionally, when chatbots are working effectively, businesses save money. As of now, chatbots don't get paid, so management can use bots to expand the reach of their team without hiring more reps. This makes chatbots an attractive, cost-effective solution for understaffed service teams.

Now that we've made our case for chatbots, let's break down how you should be using them for customer service. 

How to Use Chatbots for Customer Service

1. Create a seamless experience.

The best bots are hard to tell whether they're human or machine. That's because the bot has created such a genuine experience, you can't tell who or what's on the other side of the chat. 

This is where language and phrasing plays a major role in the success of your bot. You need to make sure it's using vocabulary and phrases that your customers understand. And, these preset responses need to apply to all possible inquiries. If the customer gets stuck, the bot needs to know how to handle the roadblock or transfer the case to a human rep. 

One good example of a seamless bot experience is 77 Plastic Surgery. This company used HubSpot's chatbot builder to create a bot that streamlines new customer inquiries. Customers can easily pick through the preset options provided by the bot and find specific information on the procedure they're interested in. BEauty-Bot-Chatbot

Source: 77 Plastic Surgery

At the end of the chatflow, the bot asks the user if they want to propose their own question or set up a time for a consultation call. This creates a smooth transition from the bot to a live conversation with a sales or service rep. 

2. Make the bot's widget clear to the viewer. 

Your bot isn't much help if your viewers can't see it. Rather than hiding it on an individual page or within your knowledge base, consider adding a chat widget to your website. This is an icon that displays in the corner of each page of your website and links users directly to your chatbot. Whenever the widget is clicked, the chatbot is launched.

Here's one example from Core dna.

3azlpvSo long as the user can find it when they need help, feel free to customize this button with your company's branding or any other image that you would prefer. 

3. Have bots compliment human reps.

No matter how good your chatbot is, it can't take the place of your human reps. Human reps possess emotional intelligence and are better at diffusing strenuous situations. When customers have problems that your bot can't solve, you need to have an employee ready to step in and intervene. Studies show that 86% of consumers want an option to transfer to a live agent if a service issue becomes too complex for a chatbot. 

One of the best formats you can use is having the bot begin the service interaction. Use the bot to determine the customer's problem, then have it either provide a solution or transfer the case to a service rep. This will either give the customer an immediate answer or pair them with an employee who's already briefed on their inquiry. Service reps should read the chat's existing transcript, so customers don't waste time repeating problems.

4. Provide off-hour or 24/7 support.

If you're running a website, customers from around the world will have access to your business. While this opens up a wider audience, it also presents the challenge of managing customers in different time zones. If you're operating an SMB, you may not have the resources to support round-the-clock customer service.

One of the best benefits of chatbots is that you can use them to provide off-hour or 24/7 support. If customers have simple questions while your team is away the bot can respond. If the problem is more complex, the chatbot will acknowledge the request and provide the customer with an email to follow up with. The best bots, however, send these inquiries to the team's ticketing system, which then assigns the case to the next rep that logs on. 

5. Include proactive features. 

Since live chat is still relatively new, some customers may not be aware of how it can help them. They may just think the bot widget is some sort of upsell or cross-sell that they should stay away from. After all, chatbots are a great tool for sales teams, too. 

For these users, it helps to add proactive features to your chatbot. For example, HubSpot's chatbot displays a friendly message letting customers know that it's here to help. Chatbot-HuBspot-2

And, if customers don't engage with bot after a few minutes, the bot expands its messaging to its full view. That way, customers can see the bot's functions and get a taste for how this tool can help them achieve their goals.Chatbot-HubSpot

Now that we've covered chatbots, learn about other tools used for ecommerce customer service.

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Originally published Sep 16, 2019 8:58:00 AM, updated April 17 2020


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