Using Chatbots as a Customer Service Virtual Agent

6 April 2022

Customer service chatbots are quickly increasing in popularity, and it's easy to see why. This evolving technology makes it easier for businesses to engage their customers, cut down on their workload, and proactively prevent minor customer service issues from becoming major problems. Keep reading for a few tips and best practices for creating a chatbot.

Why It’s Important to Identify Tasks for a Virtual Agent

It’s important to know exactly what you want from a virtual agent. One of the easiest ways to determine just how much you want to turn over to a chatbot is to decide what you are hoping to accomplish. For example, do you want to:

  • Enable your customer service agents to dedicate more time to resolving more complicated customer issues?
  • Provide faster around-the-clock feedback for common customer questions?
  • Cut down on the emails that your business receives?

Narrowing the task list that you want to trust your virtual agent with helps to clarify that steps you need to take to gain the results you want.

Deciding What to Delegate to a Chatbot

Using a chatbot can shave a lot of hours off of your workweek, but knowing which tasks to outsource to a virtual agent can be challenging. When it comes to deciding what tasks can be turned over to a virtual assistant, it helps to take the same approach that you would with any other task that you would outsource. Consider the core areas of your business. Any tasks that directly pertain to these areas are probably better handled by a real person, while secondary tasks, like providing customer support for common issues, can likely be delegated to a chatbot.

So what can you turn over to an AI assistant like a chatbot? Think about the types of issues that your customer service team deals with the most. Chances are, there are a handful of questions or service needs that get addressed over and over again. Repetitive tasks like these are ideal for virtual agents.

Creating Your Chatbot’s Voice

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when it comes to designing a chatbot is making it completely devoid of personality. Most customers recognize when they aren’t dealing with a real person, but even so, an experience that is too sterile and personality-free doesn’t provide a good customer service experience. Consider your brand’s image. Is it witty and a little irreverent? Polished and professional? Warm and inspiring? Use this as a guide for creating your bot’s “voice.”

Your goal for utilizing a chatbot is to minimize the workloads placed on yourself and your employees, so it’s natural to want to make sure that it provides as much information as possible. Unfortunately, if your chatbot is too wordy, your customer is more likely to disengage from the conversation and come away feeling unsatisfied. Responses that are too vague, on the other hand, leave your customer assuming that there’s no hope that their inquiry will be answered properly. A good rule of thumb is to break up messages that are longer than a line or two.

Knowing When to Pass the Baton to a Human Agent

While a majority of the inquiries that your chatbot handles will probably be resolved without a problem, there will be some instances in which the conversation will need to be handed over to a live customer service agent. Obviously, if a customer asks to speak to an actual person, the conversation should immediately be handed over to a human agent. A live customer service representative should also handle conversations in which a customer a dissatisfied with a product or service that they’ve received and they’re unlikely to be appeased by an interaction with a chatbot.

Investing in a Chatbot Pilot

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how much of your budget you’ll choose to allocate to a chatbot pilot; it all comes down to what type of bot you want and what kind of information it will need to access. The expense of investing in a chatbot pilot varies widely. To build a full chatbot from the ground up will likely cost anywhere between $30,000 to $150,000. Building a more basic chatbot through available apps comes with a much lower price tag of $3,000 to $5,000.

Dollar for dollar, a chatbot is one of the best investments you can make to improve the productivity of your workers and the success of your business. According to a study conducted by Aspect Software Research, 44 percent of consumers would prefer to interact with a chatbot versus a human for customer relations.

The key to getting the most from a virtual agent lies in more than just using one; your business must use one correctly.The goal is to create a better experience for your customers by providing them with an option to receive efficient, high quality service by knowing how and when your chatbot is best used, how to effectively answer questions, and when the baton needs to be passed to a human agent. By investing in a virtual agent, you can maximize the productivity of your business while providing a better customer experience.

Also checkout our article on Designing the User Experience of Voice.