Customer support is rapidly changing. What is next in the world of customer support? In a word – chatbots. Messaging platforms are already wildly popular for peer-to-peer interaction on mobile. Between Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (both owned by Facebook), there are over 2 billion users on both platforms. Facebook is now developing Messenger as a B2C support channel and already thousands of brands have launched chatbots on Messenger channels.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are cutting-edge computer programs that use artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate human conversation. So why do chatbots matter to customer service? Because they can streamline the customer interaction process, boost customer engagement, and give the customer total empowerment.
In addition, chatbots allow businesses to efficiently capitalize on the mobile messaging phenomenon happening today. With the increase in mobile usage of apps such as Facebook Messenger, it’s only intuitive that companies start adapting to the new technology to reach their users. Chatbots are ideal by allowing companies to program a bot to instantly handle frequent and repetitive questions and leave the user satisfied with the whole interaction. On top of that, messaging platforms offer asynchronous communication. Unlike live chat or phone support, the messaging string lives on. Both users and brands can see the history of the conversation and never have to start from the beginning. Unlike your support staff, chatbots can work 24/7.
What’s Driving This Trend?
Consumer demand is one of the primary drivers and Facebook is the other. We know that most customers don’t want to talk with a support rep most of the time. Today’s users want to be empowered to help themselves and get things done instantly without assisted service. Gartner agrees and predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. Bottom line, intelligent self-service is proven to enhance user experience, and chatbots are a result of an industry shift towards self-service. But chat bots are actually self-service game changers.
Changing customer expectations are a key driver of this trend. An Ubisend study found that 64% of consumers believe a business should be available and contactable via messaging applications. Businesses that can successfully meet these expectations stand to benefit. A survey by Facebook IQ found that 53% of people said they were more likely to shop with a business they could message directly.
Further, BI Intelligence reports that chatbots will contribute to cutting customer care costs by up to 29%. Automating responses to common customer questions will create significant ticket deflection. Properly implemented chatbots would only require customer service staff intervention in more complex situations.
Mobile application marketing is less attractive now too. Mobile apps cost a lot to develop and market. Chatbots, on the other hand, are much cheaper to develop and, once developed, can easily be adapted for various messaging platforms. And why do would customers want to access dozens of individual apps to interact with their brands, when Facebook Messenger plus chatbots can provide a support channel for all your brands in one convenient platform – That’s more customer centric.
What is Facebook’s Role?
At their annual F8 Developers Conference back in April, Facebook announced that Messenger now supports chatbots. This is great news for businesses as they quickly flock to utilize this opportunity to reach their users.
To boot, they’ve added features that make chatbots more inviting to the general public than ever before. Facebook Messenger chatbots can respond with GIFs, audio, video, and other files. There are also “Quick Reply” buttons that simplify customer responses. Further, a "Persistent Menu" option always lists available commands.
What is the User Experience?
The first chatbot that I tried was one of my favorite news platforms: The Wall Street Journal. I was taken aback by the immediate comfort I felt interacting with the bot, almost forgetting that I was interacting with a computer program. Instead of searching on the Wall Street Journal website, it immediately provided me with links to great articles that pertained to my interests. As a consumer, I felt at ease and amazed by the sheer simplistic nature of the whole process. It was fast, efficient, and personal. The user interface was deceptively simple – to the point where I envision a world where I’ll be able to chat with companies with ease, all within the means of mobile messaging via Facebook Messenger.
Don’t Just Follow the Trend. Lead it.
With the growth of technology and the increase of inter-personal marketing, consumers today expect quick or even instant customer service. A study done by Ubisend found that 63.9 percent of consumers believe a business should be available and contactable via messaging applications.
Just two and a half months after Facebook Messenger Bots launched, there were 11,000 chatbots online. Major players like General Electric, Whole Foods, American Express, Pizza Hut, CNN, The Guardian, Weather Channel, and RedFoo have all integrated effective chatbots into their marketing strategies.
There are smaller companies leading this trend too. Code.org and PeoplePerHour both have implemented AnswerBot, powered by AnswerDash.
Answerbot, a Facebook Messenger chatbot, uses the AnswerDash AI-powered predictive Q&A engine. With AnswerBot, customers have access to a dynamic self-service solution that leverages a company’s knowledge base to make content visible, contextual and easily accessible. If the chatbot cannot provide the answer, AnswerBot can route the user to a human support rep if needed. AnswerBot can be launched in three easy steps: 1.) leverage knowledge base, 2.) load images, and 3.) add AnswerDash as an Admin to Facebook page. That’s it. AnswerBot can be launched in a day and at very little cost.
Customer service is moving quickly to keep up with evolving technological opportunities. Successful businesses need to move fast to stay ahead of customer expectations and the competition. Launching a chatbot on Facebook Messenger is an easy and quick win.