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Chatbot Success: How to Save Time, Money & Effort in Customer Interactions

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Chapter 2

How Can Chatbots Help Me Save?

According to one report, Chatbots currently account for business cost savings of $20 million globally. And, that number is expected to rise. Findings from analysis firm Juniper Research show that Chatbots are expected to trim business costs by more than $8 billion per year by 2022.

Here are some ways that Chatbots help businesses save:

REDUCED OPERATIONAL COSTS

Chatbots are like evolved self-service portals or advanced knowledge bases. They help customers quickly and easily find the answers to simple queries. As a result, they reduce the number of incoming calls to contact centers, improving efficiency and reducing operational costs.

Incoming call volume isn’t the only things that Chatbots reduce – they also lower overall interaction volume – including chats, emails, and social media inquiries. Each time a customer interacts with a Chatbot before a live person, the cost per query gets lower. This is especially true for phone assistance. According to VentureBeat, “Even if a person makes a ‘call me’ command to connect with a live agent after initiating a Chatbot interaction, a contact center pays about 33 percent less for outbound calls than inbound calls.”

During an interaction, Chatbots can capture relevant customer information, meaning that the agent can initiate the conversation equipped with prior knowledge about the query should the customer need to be transferred. For the agent, even already knowing what the customer’s query is and what the bot has suggested shaves valuable seconds off that interaction. This means a quicker resolution for customers, a lower cost-per-interaction for companies, and better use of agents’ paid time.

LOWER LABOR EXPENSES

Another way that Chatbots save companies money is through reduced labor costs. According to a report by the Call Center School, 65 to 70% of a call center’s total operating costs are related to staffing.

It’s not easy to cut costs around staffing while also meeting company and customer expectations for service and support. Businesses that blindly reduce their agent count to save money often find the number of calls and chats in their queue skyrocketing – and customer satisfaction levels taking a hit. Longer wait times equal a more expensive phone bill, meaning that cutting staff may actually end up costing more than it saves.

That said, substantial savings are achievable through automation. According to research by McKinsey, 29% of customer service positions in the US could be automated through Chatbots and other currently available technology. While a live chat agent can effectively chat with about three customers at once (and a phone representative can handle only one at a time), Chatbots can handle an unlimited amount of interactions simultaneously.

A quality Chatbot often costs less than the annual salary of a single employee, even after initial installation and programming costs (consider the costs of hiring, onboarding, training, hourly pay, and benefits per agent). And, Chatbots more than pull their weight. According to our 2018 Live Chat Benchmark Report, Comm100’s Chatbot takes care of about 20% of all incoming live chat inquiries alone. This means that even with one less agent (or without downsizing staff at all if a company’s support requirements are growing!) Chatbots help companies reduce labor expenses and save money.

Chatbot Success

CHEAP 24/7 AVAILABILITY

What’s the point of live chat if it’s not live?

More and more customers expect companies to accommodate their schedules and deliver 24/7 customer service. This can pose a problem for businesses that don’t want to spend extra money to operate during late-night or low-traffic hours. While some enterprises have turned to cheaper international or freelance live chat teams to solve this problem, others are now investing in Chatbots.

Chatbots cost the same whether they’re available 24/7, three hundred and sixty-five days per year or not. By letting Chatbots handle after-hour queries, companies can provide customers with the support that they need – when they need it – without having to hire additional agents to cover these odd working hours.

ROI IN AGENT HAPPINESS (AND BETTER ALLOCATION OF CORPORATE RESOURCES)

Even the most experienced agents can have their patience tested by having to answer the same question over and over from different customers. Call center work is at its least rewarding when it’s basic and repetitive, and often agents wish they could cut out these queries and focus on assisting customers with complex questions who need their help the most.

Allowing a Chatbot to handle simple, repetitive queries takes this burden off agents, and helps them to develop their skills by only taking on the queries that really test the limits of their knowledge. This leads to a happier, more fulfilling agent experience. Cultivating a quality agent experience is important to contact centers of all sizes: According to CCW Digital’s Winter Executive Report, 33% of companies agree that improving the agent experience is a top priority for 2018.

Fulfilled agents have a lower turnover rate, meaning that companies don’t have to invest as much time and resources in recruiting, hiring, training, and onboarding new agents. These costs can then be used to fund other, more important company endeavors. Happier agents are also more productive, which means that they can better achieve contact center metrics. (Just remember that if you adopt a Chatbot you’ll have to adjust your metrics a bit, to reflect the time that it takes to solve just complex queries). And, happier agents have a better overall workplace morale, which translates into the quality of customer service. As the report says, “Agents, quite simply, are the gateway to a productive, customer-centric experience.”

VALUE IN CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

When it comes to preferred communication channels, customer and company preferences don’t often align. However, AI makes that possible. Chatbots allow businesses to resolve customers’ issues on digital channels that are convenient for customers and inexpensive for companies. And customers appreciate the self-service nature of Chatbots. With Chatbots, customers don’t have to wait in a queue for an agent to assist them, and they won’t be placed on hold while an agent looks up information. Chatbots give customers frictionless support with less effort and can resolve issues as quickly as customers can type.

Customers can get upset if they don’t feel valued or respected by an agent. They like that Chatbots are objective – free from the judgment and cognitive biases that affect human communications and decision making. For example, sometimes a human agent might give incorrect advice because they’ve encountered a situation that seemed similar to one they had seen recently, when actually if they had looked at the circumstances objectively they might have made different decisions.

Agents might also let emotionality or a bad day get in the way of what they can do for a customer – Chatbots, on the other hand, don’t have that problem. As Joe Gagnon, Chief Customer Officer of Aspect Software writes, “There is a predictable and reliable component of Chatbots. They never tire, do not call in sick, and if designed correctly are consistent and exacting.”

Nearly 50% of consumers already engage in automated conversations with Chatbots. But Chatbots can also help improve the satisfaction of customers who don’t engage directly with them. When bots take care of simple queries, agents become experts in handling more complex queries. They get used to using their problem-solving abilities rather than just churning out scripted responses, which means that they will be more able and willing to give customers with challenging issues quality assistance.

A recent Pelorus research survey found that 74% of contact center managers felt that improved customer service agent technology can decrease error rates and improve the customer experience. A positive customer experience makes way for more loyal customers, and more dollars spent.

Chatbot Success

GREATER SAVINGS OVER TIME

A satisfying Chatbot experience can condition customers to come back for more. Once a customer has effectively resolved an issue with a Chatbot for the first time, they open up to the possibility of using the Chatbot as a go-to measure when dealing with their next issue.

The result? Fewer and fewer customers calling in as their first resolution option, and greater savings for companies over time.

Chatbots can also help companies save long-term by putting them ahead of the competition. According to an Oracle survey, 80% of large businesses plan on using Chatbots by 2020. Current Chatbot clients demonstrate that they are trailblazing with early-stage technology that is only improving, and that will definitely be a cornerstone of customer contact in years to come.

By adopting chatbots now, companies can get early adopter benefits and gain valuable user experience that will set them ahead of their competitors as this technology continues to advance over time.

DRIVE REVENUE

Many businesses use Chatbot technology to generate leads and make sales. Chatbots can proactively alert customers to sales and discount opportunities, increasing upsells and engaging visitors. Chatbots on third-party messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger can provide useful content that drives visitors to the company website. They can also offer expansive menus that present customers with options that they weren’t even thinking about when they initiated the chat – encouraging clicks and product discovery.

Chatbots can also be used for marketing. Creative bots such as Domino’s Tinder bot and Taco Bell’s Emoji Engine often get a lot of mileage on social media, helping to spread brand awareness. They can be used to make communicating with brands more personalized – and more fun.

Chatbot Success