Chatbots – a new(ish) term being thrown around a lot lately.

But what are they?

A chatbot is a computer program able to convincingly converse with a person, either via audio or using text.

When used well, they are your partner in customer service. (Partner – not replacement.)

When used poorly, they are a consumer’s nightmare. 🤦

Customer service can make or break a relationship with a consumer.

I’ll give you an example…

I recently changed phone companies because I found a cheaper option that gave me more inclusions.

I signed up for this deal online on a Sunday and was told I would receive a phone call to confirm.

I didn’t receive this call until the following Thursday.⏰⏳⏱

So I went to their website to complain but the only options they gave me were to call them (I didn’t have a working phone) or send a letter via the mail. The mail?!📬

Instead, I went to their social media and got a reply immediately.

I thought – great! They actually seem to care. But it was a chatbot message that told me they were too busy to reply at the time and would get back to me.

I thought: “Okay, that’s fair. They probably get a lot of messages so giving them a few hours to reply is pretty reasonable.”

A few DAYS passed and I finally got a response. By then, I was twice as mad as I was originally (and I let them know that too).😡

By the end I looked like this:

Now, I definitely won’t be recommending this provider because of the extremely poor customer service I received.

(And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the importance of good word-of-mouth.)

So… to make sure your customer base doesn’t end up looking like me, follow these 3 pieces of advice.

1) Use them for FAQs, not complex enquiries.

The chatbots are designed to recognise patterns in words and respond accordingly.

FAQs are simple, generic questions that often have a stock-standard answer.

Responding to these questions individually is incredibly time-consuming so bots are your best friend for FAQs.

Make sure you use the bots to differentiate between the enquiries that need to be responded to in person and the ones that the bot can answer for you.

FAQ Pattern

2) Use them to tell your customer you will respond.

Customers like to know their message has been received (particularly if you’re a larger organisation).

The bot was used to say “we hear you – we won’t be long,” like the company did in my example.

Because so much of what we do on a daily basis involves interacting with technology, consumers receive instant gratification.

So it makes sense that we should be able to get good, fast customer service too, even if that’s out of the usual working hours. In this way, even smaller companies can benefit from chatbots.

Just remember to respond when you said you would. Otherwise all of this good work won’t mean all that much.

3) Program them to sound human! 🤖📳

There is nothing worse than expecting a human response and getting a robot.

Humanising the bots’ responses is important, especially for those customers that still prefer the “human touch.”

It makes us feel special, and not like just another metaphorical “dollar sign.”💰


4) Connect your bots everywhere

Use them on Facebook Messenger, Instagram, your website – everywhere!

That way, no matter which method of communication your customer chooses, you’ll have a response.

5) Don’t expect them to do all of the work

I said at the beginning that your bots are your partners in customer service, not your replacement.

So the more questions that can be answered with less time, effort and cost, the better. (For the business, anyway.)

I said before that chatbots are your partners in customer service.

So make sure you work with them to provide the best customer service because if you treat your customers well, they will do that same for you.