Tag: chatbot

20 Nov 2017

Holiday Travel Chaos – Are Airline Support Teams Prepared to Handle the Rush?

Last year, more than 6 million Americans took airplanes for their end-of-year holiday trips. With such high volumes of passengers and inevitable winter weather issues, it’s not a matter of if something will go wrong during the holidays, it’s a question of when.

To prepare for the holiday chaos and deliver a stellar travel experience through wind, sleet and snow, airlines must have a strong support strategy in place. This includes gaining a comprehensive understanding of the issues of holidays past, implementing smart technology that provides customers with fast and accurate information, and empowering live representatives to handle the complex situations the holidays inevitably bring.

Ghosts of Holidays Past

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it — the old saying rings especially true when it comes to customer service. Before the holiday madness begins, it is essential that customer service teams know what the most common issues and most asked questions associate with past crises, and ensure they are prepared to answer them this time around.

A comprehensive and centralized knowledge management system can help track which questions are more likely to be asked during the holiday season. For example, customers may be more likely to ask about rental car options if a flight is cancelled on Christmas Eve because they are less willing to wait for a later flight and miss out on family memories. Travel companies can tap into their historical data to prepare their digital channels and customer support teams to handle these unique situations and make sure customers get the answers they need, fast. Being caught off guard by a customer question is not the kind of holiday surprise CX teams want, and this is something they can curtail with the implementation of smart knowledge management tools.

Get Smart with AI — The Gift that Keeps on Giving

With so many people traveling during the holiday season, customer service agents are tasked with resolving thousands of questions — many of which are repetitive and may take less than a minute to answer. The problem is that these simpler questions quickly pile up and take time away from customers who are dealing with complex situations. This is why a lot of travel companies are looking to chatbot technology.

Equipped with natural language processing (NLP), modern chatbots can understand context and provide quick and accurate answers to customer queries. For the traveler looking to confirm a gate change or even start the process of rebooking a flight, chatbots create a convenient channel that can quickly and effectively resolve these issues. During the holidays, time is of the essence in these situations and chatbots help cut out much of the waiting on hold, ensuring a customer’s needs are efficiently taken care of.

When the Human Touch is Needed

Although chatbots can resolve many customer questions, sometimes situations call for escalating to a live agent. Even in these situations, chatbots play a critical role, recognizing when a situation requires the human touch and seamlessly transitioning the customer to the right agent to address their specific needs. This ensures that customers are not bounced from representative to representative looking for the right person to resolve their issue.

Furthermore, implementing chatbots as an internal tool provide agents with a wellspring of customer information to better do their jobs. Acting as a resource, chatbots give live reps the information they need to provide a highly personalized experience and ensure customers don’t have to repeat information or re-explain their problem when they are transferred. Ultimately, this mitigates any customer frustration and makes them feel like their issues are truly being heard.

Holiday travel can be extremely stressful — with passengers wanting nothing more than to get to their destination and airlines trying their best to support them. Travel companies will need to improve their CX strategy with smart technology like chatbots to ease the stress of both customers and employees, and therefore ensure everyone is home for the holidays.

09 Nov 2017

Using AI to Help Customers Avoid Information Overload

Ever feel overwhelmed when you go onto a retailer’s website or mobile app? Today’s ecommerce experiences put massive amounts of information at shoppers’ fingertips — but oftentimes this influx of data can be harmful to the customer experience.

Navigating all the available information on a website can be both frustrating and create a roadblock for consumers shopping for a particular item or looking for a specific answer. Luckily, artificial intelligence technologies are helping solve this problem, empowering shoppers to cut through noise and quickly find the right information without having to comb through all the text. Here’s how AI-driven chatbots can help minimize information overload, making for seamless, intuitive customer experiences:

Getting to the root of customer needs

A big issue customers face when interacting with brands online is the feeling that their issues and needs aren’t accurately understood. With so much information now available, customers can be forced to search for answers on their own — taking extra time and effort to find relevant information that impacts their demands.

Chatbots help to mitigate this qualm. Equipped with cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, these tools have the ability to dig down into customer issues and truly understand the intent behind their queries to, in turn, provide the most relevant and accurate response and/or escalate the customer to the best resource. Ultimately, this not only ensures customers questions are accurately answered, but gives them the feeling that their issues and situations are being heard.

Pinpointing where online support falls short — and fixing it, fast

With AI, brands can monitor how their customer experience strategy is actually performing and whether they’re efficiently supporting customers. Embedded within chatbots, retailers have the back-end capabilities to pinpoint repeated semantic clusters of phrasings, and understand where their support isn’t accurate or helpful to customers. From there, they alert CX managers to these problems and prompts them to address them by adding more information.

Another key part of this equation is the ability to quickly update all of the company’s knowledge across every platform the chatbot exists on — be it social media, a mobile app or website. This multi-pronged integration ensures the company’s channels offer consistent support no matter where a shopper is looking for answers.

Personalizing the experience

Personalization is a major buzzword in today’s hyper-digital retail space. But the fact of the matter is that tailoring the customer experience is a valuable way minimize information overload for customers.

In the customer service realm, chatbots can ensure customers get information that is most relevant to their particular situation. Specifically, by allowing the chatbot to dig into a specific customer’s profile on the retailer’s website, they can understand previous interactions or purchases and ensure they are providing insight that aligns with these historical insights. Understanding an individual customer’s needs is crucial to providing a seamless and supportive digital experience.

Today’s retailers are tasked with not only having the most interactive ecommerce experiences, but they’re expected to present information in a way that is valuable for their specific customers. Leveraging AI technologies, retailers can ensure their digital properties minimize information overload and provide a top-notch shopping experience.

07 Aug 2017
chat bot hype - reality and expectations

Harnessing the Chatbot Hype

There has been a huge amount of excitement with the onslaught of chatbots and virtual assistants this decade. Gartner predict that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be with AI, rather than humans.
But at the same time, companies like Facebook have scaled back on their chatbots, admitting that the majority were only able to fulfil 30% of requests, seemingly a huge failure.

The problem is clear. Our expectations are far from reality. We see the potential value in a new technology, and then experience a crash when we realize what we can’t achieve. To manage AI successfully, and provide valuable digital self-service, business leaders need to understand what makes this technology challenging, and focus on what we can do to push the industry forward.

Focus on Core Value

Bots fail for many reasons, but one that comes up time and time again is user expectations. As a business leader, you need to think about what you want your bot to be able to achieve, and make sure that this element is flawless. Of course, the bots of the future are sophisticated channels within a harmonious, interconnected experience. Users have increasing expectations of capabilities, and the technology indeed has progressed to justify this desire for a seamless interaction. It is no longer enough to provide limited, targeted, restricted interactions. The bar has been raised, and the customer deserves better.

If you are a weather bot, you don’t need to be able to discuss traffic or music. But your customers will expect you to be able to tell them if they need to grab a raincoat. This becomes even more important when you use conversational UI, as the moment you ask your users to talk to something, they will personify it. This makes it very difficult to change their minds once it’s made up.

88% of users are unlikely to come back to your website after a bad first impression. People judge harshly and are known to be critical, so owning its limitations is integral to a successful chatbot.

Hybrid Experiences

If your bot is unable to do what’s being asked, there’s no value in being cute or trying to work around this. The best solution is to be clear about what it can’t handle, and then guide users to what it can do instead.

This is where hybrid experiences can come in very useful. Your bot does not need to be a pure bot solution. Perhaps your solution is meant to help users with flight arrival and departure times, but to book a new journey, they need to open the mobile app, or visit your website. Creating a hybrid journey where users can be guided to the right place for their needs creates a richer experience. Far from taking away from the effectiveness of your chatbot, it actually increases and adds value.

Leverage connecting with human agents too where you need, for example when your bot meets with limitations in functionality, or an issue needs escalation or you have simply found from past trends that customers are fine self-serving for everything else but prefer to complete a specific segment with human guidance. The future of AI is in leveraging the relationship between all the channels on a customer journey, and your business’ ability to make these seamless and complementary. The best solutions will also give you visibility to understand when escalation is preferable, and the ease of allowing you to dictate those situations and trigger this transition when needed without losing the customer or the information along the way.

Effective, not Human

A common misconception is that bots should aim to be as similar to humans as possible. With this (misconceived) goal in mind, chatbots are almost certain to fail. Experts have shown that thought and languages are extremely closely tied, to the point where in order to fully emulate human language we would need to teach our AI to emulate human thought. Perhaps one day we might have mastered what Forbes call cognitive computing, but we’re not there yet. This makes the goal of ‘lifelike’ AI not just unnecessary, but unachievable.

Rather than try to copy human interactions, the biggest wins for AI are leveraging the parts that bots excel at. One example which everyone would agree with is a chatbots ability to be ‘always on’. This is something a human member of staff couldn’t achieve, and gives your business a new way to succeed, a greeting for your customer which never sleeps.

Every medium has its own strengths. For humans, it might be the way in which we think. For bots, it is likely to be something else altogether, from speed or personalization, to its ability to integrate with any knowledgebase or seamlessly connect across channels. By focusing on trying to make bots more human, we are ignoring the capabilities which they have in and of themselves.

Magic Moments

While we don’t need to try to make our chatbots more human, we do want to be aware of our customers’ humanity. Just as they will make quick first impressions, they are also impressed by the personal touch, or by your bot going above and beyond.

One way to do this is with anticipatory customer service. Think again about the core value of your bot. With a human interaction, there may be obvious next steps to that conversation which we do without thinking. Let’s say a customer asks ‘Do you have these shoes in a size 6?’ Your bot can say a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ which certainly satisfies the core value. But think about the peripherals around this. It could also say ‘Yes, would you like me to add these to your basket?’ or ‘No, should we email you when they get back in stock?’ Being proactive rather than reactive creates a magic moment where your customer feels supported and listened to, and further helps increase efficiency and satisfaction.

Personalization can also help with this. Look at the information you have about your customer and use it to your advantage. This might be as simple as using their name or location. With the right data, it can also include leveraging account information or past shopping habits.

The Information is Already Yours

Whether it’s proactive questions, personalized touches, hybrid customer journeys or defining your core value, these steps all have something in common. Listening. The main driver for success with AI is going to be understanding what your customers want.

You can use the interactions across all of your channels to get the most accurate view of the needs your visitors are looking to fill. This makes the flow of data between your systems critical for success. Every question which your consumer asks, and each interaction they have, regardless of channel, tells you another element of the single voice of the customer. With this data, you can create bots which hone in on what your customer really wants.

Limitless Possibilities

Encouraging your chatbots to imitate humans takes away from how effective and useful they can truly be. Rather than confining your AI to human limitations and borders, a change in this attitude will set them free to do so much more.

When you stop thinking about making your chatbots more human, it opens your business up to think about what their real goal is, and how they can delight your customers with magic moments and added value. Giving your bots a key role on a hybrid consumer journey, promotes a richer customer experience, allowing you to simultaneously learn from each and every interaction.