January 5, 2022
Customer experience

Chatbots: customer service software for the modern contact center

By 2026, the conversational AI market is expected to surpass $18.4 billion  – up from $6.8 billion in 2021.

As more consumers shop, spend, and pay for services online, customer service software must keep up with increasing demands. With a little (or a lot) of help from chatbots, customer service sectors in nearly every industry worldwide are reaping the benefits of conversational AI technology.

In the last decade, chatbots and virtual agents have been among the most over-hyped applications in the AI realm. When this technology first rose in popularity, their implementation was surrounded with skepticism and frustration due to clunky platforms and inaccurate answers. Luckily, the market is starting to mature and stabilize. 

Gartner recently revised their projections for conversational AI, signaling that the technology should be ready for primetime in less than two years. This is welcomed news for companies eager to capitalize on the promise of automation to cut costs, increase revenues, and improve customer service satisfaction.

This article details why chatbots are a preferred customer service software and why their integration is becoming exceedingly attractive for businesses in every sector, including e-commerce, insurance, finance, healthcare, telecommunications, and more. 

Keep reading to learn:

  • The key differences between chatbots and conversational AI and their uses
  • 5 key benefits of integrating a chatbot into your customer service software
  • How chatbots create a more personalized customer service experience for consumers

Be sure to check out our 2022 trends guide for even more insights and predictions into the future of conversational AI in the coming years.

The differences between chatbots and conversational AI

Before diving into the main benefits of chatbots softwares, let’s review the differences between chatbots and conversational AI. While these two terms are often confused and used interchangeably, it is important to know that conversational AI is used to power chatbots, but not all chatbots use conversational AI.

Basic chatbots have a limited capacity to answer a set number of questions and complete predetermined tasks. For customers with simple FAQs, basic chatbots get the job done.

For more advanced interactions, conversational AI gives a major boost to next-generation chatbots. In practice, conversational AI understands and responds to an infinite number of customer inquiries instantly. Their enhanced ability to understand human language results in positive interactions with customers, who receive the answers they need right away. 

Think of it the same way you might your smartphone and the operating system it runs on. A chatbot is a lot like the “phone” part of a smartphone; it has basic functions like making calls and sending texts. The operating system of your smartphone is like conversational AI. A phone or chatbot can work just fine without the “smart” part, but it is limited to basic tasks and responses. Once you add in the “smart” element, as with conversational AI, then the possibilities are limitless.

5 reasons why customer service chatbots are essential for businesses

Businesses that utilize chatbots experience many benefits, including cost savings, increased customer satisfaction, and around-the-clock support. Keep reading to learn why businesses worldwide use chatbots to manage and keep up with consumer demands and inquiries.

  1. Offer 24/7 support

With instant access to your website 24/7, consumers expect to receive the help they need at any hour. They do not want to wait on hold, nor do they want to try to reach you during business hours on their lunch break. 24-hour support, along with support on holidays, weekends, and every day of the year, is necessary for businesses in nearly every industry. 

This is where chatbots come in to save the day. Chatbots are available any time, day or night. When your customers need assistance, you can guarantee that help is always available to them.  

  1. Ensure consistency

Chatbots don’t have good or bad days. They never get tired, hungry, angry, or irritable. Additionally, chatbots always relay the right answers every time. This kind of consistency saves customers a lot of frustration and saves companies time and money. Incorrect answers can be costly and even turn customers towards competitors if they have a poor experience. 

Chatbots are unwaveringly consistent and correct, but only with the help of humans. This consistency is achieved when an existing employee trains the chatbot on company products and services. This role is known as an “AI trainer” and ensures the chatbot is maintained, updated, and competent. 

If you are worried about chatbots overtaking human jobs, know that the opposite is coming to fruition. Chatbots are creating new jobs (like AI trainers) and freeing up valuable human brainpower to solve complex problems. This copacetic relationship between humans and chatbots is a win-win for companies, consumers, and employees.

  1. Lower business costs

One of the best benefits of customer service chatbots is their ability to handle unexpected spikes in traffic volume or inquiries on any given day. Human employees can only handle so much capacity and may leave customers waiting in frustration when traffic is high. 

Rather than hiring more staff to keep up with the demand or paying employees overtime, a chatbot can handle the increased volume at any time and for any reason without fatigue or overwhelm. When traffic increases are managed with ease, both customers and human employees are satisfied.

  1. Generate intuitive responses

Chatbots are unlike any other customer service software tool. With the power to reference previous interactions, access the customer’s existing account, and instantaneously take in real-time customer information, customers receive personalized and relevant recommendations. This feature is especially helpful for product upsells or cross-sells. 

Instead of irritating customers with an upsell pitch, the chatbot seamlessly recommends the next best thing for the customer based on their chat history, account data, and most recent inquiries. So not only does the chatbot create a personalized experience for the customer, but it also increases revenue by encouraging sales that are specific to the customer’s needs.

  1. Support human employees 

Chatbots ultimately assist customer service teams by taking on the burden of general inquiries, so employees are free to answer more detailed and complex questions.

Relying solely on humans for customer service support is becoming ineffective and obsolete, as consumers expect faster, instant, and accurate answers to their inquiries. Most consumers simply want an answer as quickly as possible and don’t care whether the answer comes from a chatbot or not. However, when they want a human touch, companies that rely on chatbots can guarantee that someone will offer hands-on assistance.

Ultimately, customer service chatbots work together with and alongside humans to enhance the customer experience and provide optimal outcomes for both the company and consumers.

Increasing demand for customer service chatbots

According to Accenture, 56% of companies say that conversational AI is driving disruption in their industry, and 43% report that their competitors are in the process of implementing the technology. With industry trends signaling a wave of chatbot integration, along with consumer trends pointing towards the need for more urgent, accurate, and accessible service, nearly every business can benefit from customer service chatbots.

Learn more about how chatbots are changing the customer service landscape in our 2022 Trends Guide, and discover all the latest statistics surrounding conversational AI, chatbots, and virtual agents.

Further reading

For more information, check out these great resources:

Grab your free 2022 AI trends guide today! Discover the latest statistics and predictions for customer service software chatbots and other conversational AI technologies.

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