Can self-service replace bad customer service?

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Above: Illustration by wutwhan/DepositPhotos.

You are home about to binge watch Stranger Things Season 2 on Netflix with your significant other. You have everything, A.C is on, popcorn popped, chip and dip, beers, it is going to be an epic night. However something seems to be a bit off, what could be missing? Then it hits you, you forgot the junk food that would make the event complete.

No worries, junk food is just one phone call away. You call the Food Place several times but you constantly get a busy tone #frustration. How about this: you are at home, finishing up an assignment that’s due today and your Internet suddenly stops working, you call your Internet provider. After waiting 15 minutes for the helpdesk operator, you are told there is an outage in the area #anger.

These scenarios could have been avoided with a little bit of innovation. In the examples above, the person who answers the phone is also the person cashing, so on busy nights this person is swamped by customers. Additionally, most businesses would not hire someone just to answer the phone as that would mean paying a salary for a resource that would only be really effective for about 4 hours of the day.

That would seriously affect their bottom line, especially if the business has many branches. Let’s not forget that this task is very repetitive which means the job gets boring and or frustrating quickly for any one person.

What should businesses do to maximize their ROI when it comes to customer service? How about creating a chatbot to handle most of your front facing activities?

What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and artificial intelligence which enables it to automate processes. You interact with the service via a chat app (Facebook Messenger, Skype, Telegram etc.).

How can a chatbot benefit your business?

It’s available 24/7- Chatbots are always available and if they are well-designed, will be able to answer a lot of the routine questions asked of them. They don’t need to sleep or rest, which gives your businesses the ability to provide continuous support to customers during and after working hours. This reduces the need for staff dedicated to this task.

Reduce Costs – Your bot would be doing most of the customer facing work, allowing staff will to do other tasks.

Available on many platforms – Chatbots are available on many platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack and on your website.

Improved customer service – Chatbots can be programmed to give quick responses to the frequently asked questions from your customers, or they can alert a human service rep if the question becomes complicated or requires the interaction of a knowledgeable representative.

Its a one-on-one conversation, so there is no need for the customer to wait on the next free agent. The query can be handled instantly, leading to more productivity and enabling the business to handle even more customer requests. The payoff is an increase in the overall satisfaction of your customers.

There are chatbots already in existence that help users save money, find cheaper rates for hotels, deliver news or entertain users. But the best thing about chatbots is that they use our current behaviour (messaging apps account for 91% of all time spent on mobiles and desktops by US users, according to ComScore)and transforms it into a new avenue of engagement for brands.

My new venture is to build chatbots not only for messaging services like Facebook Messenger but also by using voice via a Google Mini or Amazon Alexa. I can see the tremendous need for these services to exist as it will save us a significant amount of time.

If you are interested in chatbots and want to talk about them, hit me up on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn.

Kern Elliot

Kern Elliott was interested in the I.T field from a young age, having been introduced to computers by his father who was a programmer. Since then, he has received Bachelors in Computing from the University of Greenwich and a Masters in Information Systems Management from the University of Liverpool.
An IT professional for over 13 years, Kern devotes his time and knowledge to facilitating Trinidad and Tobago’s growth in usage of ICT to solve everyday problems. He has done so by creating innovative projects that have seen him awarded a Prime Minister’s Award for Scientific Ingenuity.