Although technology continuously evolves, some things never change. The fact that consumers expect a positive customer service experience wherever they do business remains constant. In today’s digital society, modern technologies are transforming almost every aspect of the customer journey and influencing the expectations consumers have when interacting with brands online. When customers want around-the-clock service but businesses can’t provide it, where do they turn? Enter chatbots. Why have they become so popular lately? Is it just hype or is it something truly revolutionary?
Chatbots, which are AI-powered tools, are designed to simulate conversations with human users over the internet. Although there has been plenty of fear surrounding the future of robots and artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots seem to be a natural integration for consumer-facing technology. Typically, chatbots support online customer service. However, they are also used several other ways; like from aiding healthcare and legal advice, to helping individuals find love. Whether you view the technology as a passing fad or believe that chatbots will revolutionize how people communicate and interact, chatbots have a real impact on a user’s online experience.
The way people communicate with businesses has been evolving at a rapid pace. This has been amplified by the constant developments in technology. For years, in-person meetings and phone calls were the dominant means of communication, but the rise of the internet introduced a multitude of new touchpoints, including email, social media, and mobile apps. Real-time messaging has led to a fundamental shift in how people prefer to connect with businesses.
As industry leader Mark Hurd explains in an interview with Forbes, “Consumers now expect immediate gratification. They expect immediate answers to the questions they have, and they’ll make buying decisions… on a nanosecond sort of basis.”
Hurd’s claim is supported by recent research by Sprout Social, who found that today’s consumers are willing to wait just four hours for a customer support response.
Although consumers expect near-instantaneous responses, business behavior suggests the opposite. The vast majority (89 percent) of consumer messages that require responses are ignored by brands, negatively impacting customer experience, the sales funnel and, inevitably, revenue. This is where chatbots come in. They can step in as a virtual assistant, provide an immediate response, and fulfill consumers’ demand of getting instant support. Chatbots supplement customer service functions in order to answer customer queries more quickly, more efficiently, and, oftentimes, more accurately.
More and more companies are beginning to use chatbots to assist their customers in user-friendly ways. Is your brand ready to use a chatbot? If you’re focused on the customer experience, the answer should be yes.