The adoption of digital assistants has made for a more seamless online shopping experience. In the beginning, customers found themselves wary of chatbots, doubting their usability compared to that of a living, breathing customer support agent. That notion evaporated as soon as customers began to understand and appreciate the benefits chatbots offer. Yet, this achievement does not mean digital assistant technology should rest on its laurels as some functionality still requires further improvements.
According to a report by PWC, over 70% of shoppers prefer speaking to a human representative if given an option between the two. The research revealed that customers viewed automated responses as frustrating and impersonal, reducing engagement and stopping conversions dead in their tracks. Their adverse reaction to chatbots comes down to their inability to answer queries, limited capacity to offer feedback and unnatural responses.
However, digital assistant technology has the ability to transform as smart devices evolve and the user interaction design progressively gets more intuitive. With better implementation of AI and big data technology into automated customer service, bots can quickly scale into an effective communication tool and most importantly, listen and understand customers’ questions and frustrations.
Let’s talk about how your businesses can make this happen.
As a communication tool, chatbots and virtual assistants have no native knowledge. Your business needs to start with basic information like time, language, location and authorized details such as a user’s name. From here, your chatbot should greet your customers without asking questions about things they already know. You can even infuse your bot with open-source sentiment libraries to give it a head start rather than starting from scratch. With the right details imparted into your bot, it will start with “Good afternoon, John. How may I help you?” rather than “Hi, please enter your name”. Brands would do well to treat their customers as human beings, not people who are unfamiliar with how the Internet works.
Creating a personality inches your bot closer to sounding more like a person. You have seen how large conglomerates do it: Apple’s Siri sounds witty, Amazon’s Alexa reacts playfully and Google Assistant acts as a professional white-collar worker. To imbue personality into your business, you need to define your brand’s voice. Will your chatbot’s tone be casual or strictly business? Will it answer questions or inform customers? Once you establish its personality, pay heed to how your customers react and make improvements accordingly to produce a vastly superior experience.
Forming words together to create sentences does not make a chatbot truly conversational — how it understands your customers’ queries and requests does. By outfitting your digital assistant with AI-powered NLP resources, it can react appropriately to specific audiences by obtaining richer customer data from past conversations. As time passes, your chatbot will receive a steady flow of information to decrease errors and respond more accurately.
Whenever a customer engages with your chatbot, they always have a clear goal in mind. Your digital assistant must guide them from start to finish regardless of their intent. Big data analytics plays a huge role in helping your bot optimally navigates that conversational path. With the right data, your brand can predict what your customers want such as resolving complaints, making reservations, providing more information on a product, and looking for a human customer service agent. By identifying the conversational starting point with real-time analytics, your bot can observe their behavioral patterns and identify common issues to accelerate their journey towards a conclusion.
Above everything else, your chatbot should never let a conversation go stale. With the power of automation, you can apply rules to prevent this from happening. For example, if a customer has not displayed any activity for 15 seconds, the chatbot can prompt a question to ask if they wish to continue. In the event of a complex query, the chatbot should immediately suggest the customer contact a human operator and provide customer care hotlines and emails, or even connect them directly. Your digital assistant can also come equipped with coaching tags or button indicators for your customers to click to move forward with their issues. It guides your users to a preset path to establish a fluid conversational experience.
Implementing a chatbot for your business may provide instant assistance to your customers but they also need to complement the user experience journey. Without proper human-centric design, digital bots will only end up doing more harm to your brand rather than bringing tangible results. Always put conversational design first as it enhances the customer experience and personalizes your digital assistant in such a way that makes it acts like a human and sounds completely natural. You want people to have a pleasant time interacting with your chatbot, not trying their level best to avoid it.