Chatbot technology has already made an everlasting digital footprint when it comes to customer engagement. With the advancement of technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language understanding, customers don’t always know if they are talking to a computer or a live agent. While voice will always have its place in B2C engagement, customers frequently prefer to interact with businesses the same way they do in everyday life, through messaging apps, SMS and social media.
Chatbots are part of digital disruption across all industries, from helping patients manage their health to offering financial tips and anywhere in-between. In fact, Jupiter Research’s forecast says chatbots could save organizations $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022. Let’s take a look at how chatbots have a great impact on consumers in specific industries.
Healthcare providers invest a lot of money and time in patient engagement; especially when it comes to staff members responding to and taking patient inquires and helping them take better care of themselves. Bots will never replace physicians and clinicians, but they can be used to offer patients round-the-clock access to resources such as medication advice, prescription refills, test results, and handle mundane tasks like scheduling an appointment. Chatbots can be a resource for patients who are having trouble understanding upcoming procedures, medication adherence and for improving their overall lifestyle. Not only can health bots help patients understand symptoms, persuade them to see a doctor, and schedule the appointment for them, but they can also help with preventative measures and provide advice for adjusting unhealthy habits.
In e-commerce, chatbots can help improve the retail journey, make suggestions that lead to future purchases or encourage customers to go into the store. Chatbots not only reduce the strain on business resources, they also help customers get things done faster. For example, chatbots can eliminate the need for customers to fill out forms for customer support, or select from a drop-down menu that doesn’t address a specific problem or piece of merchandise. Additionally, chatbots can help businesses build their brand by providing customers with the same kind of personalized service that shoppers expect from an in-store visit. In some ways chatbots act as a personal retail associate because customers can ask questions and be taken to what they are looking for, or receive personalized recommendations for new items they might like, creating a virtual shopping experience.
Most hotel chains offer live chat on their websites, but it is no secret that the response time is slow; and if customers wait too long, they will take their business elsewhere. This is something that can easily be solved by using a chatbot to answer customer questions quickly in a smooth conversation format and giving customers what they need before they think about bailing. Once onsite, guests want to relax and enjoy themselves rather than waiting on hold with the concierge or guest services. Chatbots can resolve complaints and handle guest inquiries without any human intervention on familiar channels such as SMS, chat and Messenger. In fact, the Radisson Blu Edwardian, has found that 60% of their guest inquiries are made using ‘Edward,’ their virtual assistant. Edward can handle more than 1000 questions from guests. Beyond providing a positive customer experience, there have been tangible business results achieved since implementing Edward, like raising the hotel group’s NPS score by 13 points and generating many positive hotel reviews that explicitly mention Edward.
While still in its early stages, organizations are starting to invest in innovative financial bots. These early adopters will implement chatbot technology and provide customers with information beyond the status of their accounts. Banks are finding ways to use bots to help customers plan for their future, manage money and avoid or control their debt. By leveraging customer analytics and predictive data, chatbots can make suggestions on how customers can act based on that data and what’s important to them.
Chatbots can give businesses and staff more time to handle urgent inquiries that require live assistance — it is important that businesses always provide a way for customers to move from the chatbot to a live agent. As businesses begin to implement chatbots into their customer service ecosystem, they must keep in mind that success is ultimately dependent on winning the customer’s trust. Technology alone cannot assure that.