How Chatbots Impact the Customer Journey

The expectations for customer service have never been higher. 

In this golden age of automation, the utilization of chatbots is essential to optimize the experience of your customers’ journeys. What was once considered a purely cost-cutting move has now broadened into a method for elevating customer interactions. 

We are now capable of using AI-fueled insights to address customers’ needs in real-time with personalized interactions that lead to satisfying resolutions. Chatbots engage and guide prospects and returning customers through pain points by utilizing tailored approaches to get them to visit, buy, add on, and refer your company.

Incorporating different types along the customer journey can reap rewards for those unafraid to embrace these little digital marketing machines. Through better-tailored engagements, you will be able to uncover motivations, overcome objections, and alleviate pain points along the way. Utilizing chatbots throughout the customer journey will also positively impact your business’s bottom line.

Here are a few ways to make chatbots work for your business. 

The different kinds of chatbots

Your run-of-the-mill chatbots analyze customer queries, parse out keywords, and return pre-programmed responses based on the context of the interaction. This is more or less your standard chatbot, and they are inexpensive and easy to implement. 

However, their usefulness is completely dependent on the skill of the programmer coding the chatbot. If these chatbots can’t account for a wide variety of responses then many of the customers’ pain points will remain unresolved and certain interactions will break down and remain unresolved. 

Quick Wins in the Customer Journey

If you’re selling a product — whether that’s kayaks or royalty free sports music — then your website probably has an abandoned cart automation. Despite the importance of this interaction in the customer journey, it’s often an all too common moment for customer interactions to break down. 

This can be quite costly for businesses, because the abandoned cart is the last step before funds move from the customer to your company. All of your marketing efforts have been trying to get people to this point, and if you don’t follow up accordingly, you’re just losing money. 

Optimizely has a great article explaining shopping cart abandonment in more detail.

Here are a few relevant highlights from the common reasons for shopping cart abandonment: 

  • Complexity. Given their short attention span, online customers will leave if the process is too burdensome or unclear.
  • Browsing. Many shoppers are looking to bundle their items to get additional savings.
  • High shipping costs. Many shoppers fail to account for this as they fill their carts.

Each of these three pain points is an opportunity where chatbots can come in to save the sale. Sticker shock for shipping costs can be overcome by a simple chatbot offering free shipping once the cart amount is over a set threshold, or if a recommended add-on is purchased. Complexity can be simplified by the chatbot offering to close the sale if the customer is simply looking to buy versus going through the hassle of creating an account. Lastly, an advanced chatbot can offer tailored bundle deals (including additional items) to ensure the sale.

These solutions are effective, but they just scratch the surface of what chatbots can do. 

Advanced Chatbot Applications

Advanced chatbots employ machine learning and other aspects of AI to learn from customer queries and create increasingly tailored responses to customer behavior. These chatbots are more expensive and require more expertise to successfully integrate into the customer journey. But if you utilize them correctly, they can free up resources better spent elsewhere.

A prime example of freed up resources is instead of staffing multiple live agents to answer the same issue again and again, you can delegate these repetitive tasks to an advanced chatbot. 

Keep one or two agents on hand to answer any complicated questions the advanced chatbot hands off to them. Then you can redirect the other agents to focus on tasks like social media listening to better improve other aspects of the customer journey.

Beyond just simple and advanced, chatbots can be further broken into six main categories. Finwin Technologies wrote a good article classifying the different types.

Here is an overview if you wish to move ahead:

  1. Scripted/Quick replies are simple bots that use pre programmed knowledge and abilities to answer queries tied to keywords.
  2. Natural Language Processing (NLP) are advanced bots that use AI to define customer intent whether it is in text or voice form. They use parsing slightly differently as their focus is primarily on obtaining variables for each answer.
  3. Service/Action are simple bots that complete user requests by asking relevant questions or taking the appropriate actions on their behalf.
  4. Social Messaging is advanced bots existing within the platform to provide advanced interactions similar to conversing with family or friends. They give the impression of speaking to a human to convey points tied to a larger agenda.
  5. Context Enabled is the most advanced form of current bots. They use machine learning and AI to remember previous conversations to learn and develop more relevant responses.
  6. Voice-enabled is advanced bots that personalize the customer experience. After the client speaks the bots can either act upon a simple request, ask for more information, or perform more creative functions.

Looking at these six categories, you can see many applications for chatbots throughout the customer journey. And we are still in this technology’s infancy. Given time, the customer journey will become exclusively tailored to the individual by utilizing things like voice-of-customer and other real-time data to better impact the customer funnel.

A New Era of Customer Service

The technology-driven world we are in certainly raises the bar for customer engagement like never before. This leads us to how advanced chatbots can positively impact more stages of the customer journey. Customers expect tailored ads and promo-based utilization of consumer data like shopping and browsing histories.

People want interactions tailored to their preferences, and they want them at every time they interact with a brand. 

Advanced omnichannel chatbots can synergize touchpoints across the customer journey to optimize the experience for the individual customer. They can also use their advanced insights to show you where the customer journey is being derailed.

WhatsApp is a popular omnichannel chatbot that negates many of the pitfalls of more simple chatbots.

Here’s a video that shows their chatbot in action. Check out how it helps a customer get their correct insurance policy documentation sent to them. You will notice several points where the chatbot takes proactive steps to positively impact the customer journey within the insurance company’s app.

The information the chatbot required to begin acting was greatly reduced to just the license plate. This is possible thanks to having more channels of information to access.

Once the customer sent the plate info and the verification code the bot immediately identified and addressed the customer in an informal and yet personal manner. Then it used just one more question to get the correct policy immediately sent to the customer’s phone. Once again it utilized informal language to ensure better engagement with the customer.

Finally, it called the customer by their first name before offering further assistance that could utilize more of the company’s products and services. This was a great engagement and could have led to a possible opportunity to add on or upsell.

Simple chatbots are not able to pull from various channels and therefore require the customer to pass through more hurdles to get what they want. By utilizing an omnichannel chatbot the insurance company was able to find exactly what the customer wanted quickly and in an engaging manner. By not relegating all requests like these to a live agent the company can invest resources elsewhere.

And they accomplished all of this not at the expense of customer satisfaction. This short and simple interaction will be recorded and used when the customer uses the app again. This will further streamline the process and require less information from the customer. In essence, this trains the customer to now expect this level of quick and yet tailored engagement moving forward.

The Future is Now

Online marketplaces require multiple channels of information to flow together seamlessly to provide the best customer experience. The journey can break down in any of these multiple areas. 

By employing various simple and advanced chatbots you can quickly tailor the multichannel experience in a fluid and tailored manner to the customer. Big brands already do this well. Spotify knows based on your listening history whether you like suspenseful music or not. And they’ll give you recommendations that fit your past behavior. 

Chatbots can help increase product engagement, overcome objections, resolve complaints, and even help close sales. Who knew little chatbots could accomplish so much?


TBN Editor

Time Business News Editor Team