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Best Practice Tips for Customer Service Chatbot

As digital transformation gains more traction, many businesses are having to go beyond using online channels as mere billboard space for advertising to wider audiences. While customer acquisition remains a primary goal for businesses with an online presence, a lot of them need to use digital technologies for other crucial operations like providing customer support.

In this aspect of business, live chat and chatbots have emerged as some of the go-to solutions when trying to improve customer service in general. This comes as no surprise since chatbots and live chat come with a lot of benefits. Businesses can assist customers much faster, handle much more queries and complaints concurrently, automate branded messages, etc.

They can also gather more leads, gain actionable insight into customer behaviour, integrate with other marketing tools and deliver more personalized experiences. Nevertheless, different businesses have unique and ever-evolving needs, which often makes it hard to find the right chat solutions.

Therefore, let’s go through a number of practices worth considering if you’re aiming to provide excellent customer service with chatbots and live chat in any industry:

Create a consistent experience across multiple channels 

Customers spend time on various platforms and that definitely influences businesses’ decisions regarding where to present their content, but also how customers interact with these businesses. If a customer is used to tweeting and has seen your Twitter account posting consistently, there’s a good chance they might send you a direct message (DM) via Twitter. The same goes for other avenues.

Because of this, it is important to be responsive and consistent across whatever channel a customer may contact you through, be it Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This should also be the case for other touch-points like webchat widgets. Your chatbot experience should provide consistent services across all these platforms.

From response times to accuracy in answers, greeting messages and other copy or brand phrases, the experience should remain consistent. However, you can always leave room for platform-specific variations like “sent to this number” instead of “sent to this account” when communicating on WhatsApp.

Give users a list of options

When customers first interact with your chatbot it’s helpful to let them know what the chatbot is able to help them with. The best way to do this is to present a list of options that they can choose from when the chatbot first greets them. This allows the customer to respond with minimal effort and also provides a consistent response that you can easily identify and respond to.

The Mpact Recycling WhatsApp chatbot powered by Apex presents a list of features when engaging with the chat for the first time

Customers often have similar enquiries but they do not always phrase these questions in the same way. Some customers may have broad questions like “what are the top products to check out?” or even a mere “Hullo/Hi/Hey”, especially on their first interaction.

This is why your chatbot should have some options already prepared and display them upon receiving a customer’s initial communication. These options may also be used to pursue your current conversion goals. 

Here are some examples of options your chatbot can present to users:

  1. Get a quote
  2. Place an order
  3. Check the status of my order
  4. Submit a query
  5. Return or exchange an order
  6. Chat with an agent
  7. Find a nearby store
  8. Give feedback
  9. Sign up for updates

It all depends on what you’re trying to get customers to do. Have a think about your businesses common transactions and see where you’re able to automate them effectively with a chatbot.

Automate common questions

When it comes to offering customer support, you’ll almost certainly encounter recurring queries from customers. No wonder websites have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section. This can play into your hand when delivering customer support through chatbots since you can identify common keywords and phrases in customer queries.

Ask your customer support team what questions they get most frequently from customers, then see where you can prepare automated responses that are triggered when certain keywords are detected in a customer’s message. These automated replies can even contain links to web pages with more information. If done right this can provide instant helpful answers to customers and free up your team to personally respond to more complex queries.

However, be sure that your automated responses are actually helpful to customers as they can quickly become frustrated if your chatbot provides an irrelevant response. A good way to do this is to have the chatbot ask them if the response provided was helpful.

You can then analyse customer conversations, by looking at what was asked and the reply provided, to see if you need to improve it. If you feel that you cannot effectively automate a

particular query then it is best to avoid automating it until you can provide a useful response. You don’t want to risk making your customers think that you don’t care about them.

The key to building a good chatbot experience is to continuously analyse conversations and optimise them based on customer feedback and reactions. Look for your most common queries from customers and see where there are opportunities to automated responses to these effectively.

Measure your chatbot performance

It is important to gauge how well your chatbot is doing when handling customer queries. Quantitative data can be very insightful, but metrics indicating things like the number of messages exchanged in an interaction and the duration from the first message to the last don’t paint the full picture.

You’ll need to complement this data with more qualitative feedback. So on top of asking customers to give the service a star rating, you can display short objective-type answers that they can choose from. These can give you a more accurate picture of how the customer felt throughout the process.

Let people speak to a real person

While chatbots excel at taking some tasks off your team’s plate, sometimes customers will have unique queries that you cannot anticipate and in that case, it’s best to allow the customer to divert the conversation to a real person.

For the more high-stakes complaints like a failed transaction involving a large sum of money, some people will want to be able to hold a human being accountable rather than chat with a bot. Up to 79% of consumers actually prefer live chat to other customer support delivery modes.

You should therefore allow customers to choose to have a conversation with a real person when they want to. Forcing them to battle through a chatbot when they know they have a unique and complex query will only frustrate them further. If your team is busy and cannot respond immediately, then it’s always a good idea to ask the customer to leave their email address so that you can follow up with them when an agent is free.

King Price Insurance gives their users the option to receive a call back or chat to an agent directly in WhatsApp and is powered by Apex

Categorize conversations

A good practice is to categorize the conversations you have with customers. Grouping all of your conversations into various categories allows you to build reports and see what queries are most popular, emerging, changing and so on. This will help inform you to optimize your chatbot flows and customer support strategy accordingly.

Doing this will ensure that your team understands what are the most important issues for customers and help them design optimal solutions to serve them more effectively.

Choose the right chatbot service

When it comes to picking a service to build your chatbot with, it’s important to make the right choice. A well-developed chatbot will help you scale your customer support to serve customers faster and at a lower cost per conversation, whereas a poorly designed chatbot will only frustrate customers and damage your reputation.

Your business typically has its own unique products, services and processes and so you’ll want to go with a chatbot that can be tailored to fit the way your business works. Flexibility is one of the most important traits of a good chatbot service, this will ensure that you can evolve and refine your chatbot experience over time to scale your customer support effectively. You don’t want to commit your time and money to deliver a modern customer experience and be constrained to generic unhelpful answers or simple conversation flows.

It’s also important to have a chatbot that communicates over as many channels as possible to maximize the investment you’ve made in crafting conversation flows. Over time, this will allow you to build an effective customer service offering that can serve a variety of customer queries across channels and provide the best return on investment.

Companies like Apex help many organizations to design and run tailored multi-channel chatbots for retail, finance, insurance, food & drink, logistics, NGOs and more in an average timespan of two weeks. First-time customers can also receive a 20% discount on the first three months of their chatbot service. 

If you’re thinking about implementing a chatbot for your business then look for a service that takes the time to understand your needs and help to deliver something that will truly help you scale your customer support in a meaningful way.

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