Bots for Business
Chatbots: A New String in Your Customer Access Strategy Bow
The attraction for a customer service chatbot to become part of the customer access strategy is evident. By leveraging chatbot technology in customer service, businesses can build empowering experiences while cutting costs.
By Alex Debecker
June 25, 2020
There is a common goal every customer service department strives for: to deliver an empowering experience to their customers.
Perhaps surprisingly, the common goal is not “to deliver a great customer service experience.” That would be too reductive.
The goal is to empower the customer through their experience with the customer service team.
Today, this empowerment often comes through allowing customers to self-serve. In a world where 81 percent of consumers try to self-serve before eventually reaching for human help, the best approach a company could take is to simply make self-serving as easy as possible.
The core principles of a customer access strategy
A solid customer access strategy ensures that no matter where your customers enter in contact with your business, they receive excellent, unified, and relevant information.
This approach has evolved with every technological advancement. As we explore in the next section, today's customer access strategy must encompass several (vastly) different channels.
Across all channels, the strategy must follow a few core principles:
It is safe to assume that businesses looking to deliver an excellent customer service experience must follow these core principles.
The issues (and costs) of the traditional customer access strategy
There are, traditionally, five customer access channels that businesses must monitor:
This exhaustive list presents a few issues, some of which are huge challenges for businesses to overcome.
The outcome is that each customer service interaction costs the business a significant amount of money. Based on HBR's research in 2017, this “significant amount” is in the ballpark of $7 per interaction in business to consumer (B2C) and $14 per interaction in business to business (B2B).
Why are these numbers so high and, frankly, scary? Because almost nothing in the traditional customer access strategy leverages on customers self-serving.
This changes with chatbots.
A new, proactive, and efficient self-serving channel
Chatbots are pieces of software that humans can interact with using natural language. The last decade has seen their meteoric rise in popularity, from fun/gimmicky toys to problem-solving, artificial intelligence–driven business solutions.
Customer service chatbots, particularly, have conquered the hearts of larger organisations. Chances are, you've had at least one interaction with a chatbot in the last few years.
To support these claims, here are some key findings from recent research:
The attraction for a customer service chatbot to become part of the customer access strategy is evident. To understand it, all that is required is to evaluate their performance against the core principles laid out earlier in this article and to measure the financial impact they have on the organisation.
What about costs?
Because chatbots are automated and self-serve, the cost per customer service interaction goes drastically down. By how much, exactly, depends on the size of the business and the industry.
Juniper Research found that banks stand to save up to $7.3 billion by 2023—simply by using chatbots as part of their customer access strategy.
Some elementary maths can be done to estimate the savings your organisation could make using a frontline, customer service chatbot.
1. Calculate what it currently costs you to answer a ticket (employee hourly divided by tickets solved per hour, for simplicity).
2. Estimate the cost of answering the total inquiries your business gets per month (across all channels).
3. Estimate the percentage of inquiries your business gets every month that are repetitive, mundane, and could easily be automated. A simple rule of thumb is to go with 20–40 percent.
4. Times that percentage with your monthly cost, and voilà.
Future-proofing your customer service efforts
Chatbots and, to a broader sense, artificial intelligence–driven automation are impacting every industry. By leveraging this new technology in customer service, businesses can build empowering experiences while cutting costs.
Relying on chatbots also allows businesses to future-proof their effectiveness, as they scale indefinitely (at marginal additional costs, if any) and work around the clock to deliver their value.