11 important benefits of chatbots for companies and customers
Not all bots are bad—when it comes to customer service, the benefits of chatbots are many. See how the technology can take your customer support to the next level.
Published November 20, 2019
Last updated June 14, 2022
The rise of AI bots may sound like a sci-fi horror scenario, but in reality, the growing industry of chatbots isn’t scary at all. There are several benefits of chatbots—plus, many consumers give AI a thumbs up and like the idea of bots handling support queries. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, 66 percent of customers say AI chatbots make their lives easier by saving them time and effort.
As people become more comfortable with the technology, it’s worth asking: Is my company’s support chatbot living up to consumers’ expectations?
26% of companies currently offer AI and chatbot-guided self-service, and 25% plan to add it soon.
If you offer a rule-based chatbot, the answer might be no. Rule-based chatbots are popular because they’re easy to set up, but they can only respond to a set number of questions with predetermined answers. Businesses are increasingly adopting AI chatbots due to their more advanced capabilities. Our CX Trends Report revealed that 26 percent of companies currently offer AI and chatbot-guided self-service, and 25 percent plan to add it soon.
Help your support team stay competitive by adopting AI chatbots. This technology uses data from support interactions to understand what customers want and improve its responses over time—providing a variety of benefits for businesses and consumers alike.
1. Customers get answers faster
During peak hours, your agents likely face a long queue of customers. Even with a centralized dashboard, agents can handle only so many people at once, so customers may be left waiting.
Here’s the problem: consumers expect quick service, and their expectations for fast responses will only continue to grow. Bots ease agents’ workloads by helping customers find the answers they need. Unlike human agents, bots can answer multiple customer questions simultaneously, and with zero wait time. They can also provide 24/7 support.
Companies are also seeing very clear benefits from investing in AI chatbot technology. According to Juniper Research, companies will save $11 billion or more by 2023 just from deploying chatbots.
2. Agents spend less time on repetitive questions
If your skilled agents are spending hours answering simple questions (like “What hours are you open?” or “When will my order arrive?”) that’s not a good use of their time. According to an IBM study, AI chatbots can provide answers to nearly 74 percent of customer queries without human agent involvement.
That’s good for agent morale. Our CX Trends Report shows that agents are feeling burned out and undervalued. Only 15 percent claim they’re extremely satisfied with their workloads, and merely 32 percent believe they can effectively manage customer requests.
When AI chatbots automate the bulk of customer questions, agents can dedicate more time to solving difficult, complex queries.
3. Bots can offer a personalized experience
When chatbot technology integrates with your other systems, you can start to personalize customer interactions.
A customer service bot could tap into your customer relationship management (CRM) database to determine if someone visiting your website is an existing customer or a prospect. Based on that information, you can serve up messaging that best corresponds with the phase of their customer journey.
For example, an ecommerce company’s chatbot can send a message along the lines of, “Hey, welcome back, would you like to check the status of your recent order?” when a current customer visits the website. Meanwhile, a brand-new visitor could see a different conversation starter like, “First time here? Check out our most popular items and learn about our company’s story.”
A chatbot can also track if a customer already tried to solve their issue via self-service, and tell the agent which help center articles and web pages the customer visited. With this context at their fingertips, agents can avoid repeating answers the customer has already seen, which saves time for both parties.
4. Bots work on multiple channels
Customers are increasingly turning to an array of channels—phone, email, social media, and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger—to connect with brands. They expect conversations to move seamlessly across platforms so they can continue discussions right where they left off, no matter what channel or device they’re using.
But many businesses aren’t offering this type of experience. Our CX Trends Report found that only a third of companies are omnichannel, and just 17 percent are set up with a system that connects all support channels.
You can use bots to answer the common questions that come in over email, across your website, on Slack, and in your various messaging apps. Integrate your AI chatbots with the rest of your tech stack to give consumers a consistent, connected experience. Your customers will get the answers they seek, in a shorter amount of time, on the channel of their choice.
5. With AI, chatbots will only get smarter
AI customer service bots track how people respond to every answer they provide. As they collect customer data over time, they’ll continually analyze that information and turn it into meaningful insights.
With the knowledge your chatbot gains, it will learn which response is best in each type of situation. It will get better at determining which questions it can answer with a link to a help center article and which are best transferred over to a human.
Chatbots are growing better at gauging the sentiment behind the words people use. They can pick up on nuances in language to detect and understand customer emotions and provide appropriate customer care based on those insights.
6. Chatbots can increase sales
Use chatbots to do manual, time-consuming sales tasks. They can collect customer information and qualify leads, schedule product demos, and engage website visitors.
Juniper Research predicts that transactions via chatbots will reach $112 billion by 2023 in ecommerce sales alone.
Chatbots can also nurture prospects through your sales funnel by proactively communicating with them, answering questions, and educating them about your product or service.
Given all the real-time guidance they offer, chatbots can be the deciding factor in a customer’s purchase. Juniper Research predicts that transactions via chatbots will reach $112 billion by 2023 in ecommerce sales alone.
7. You can use chatbots for A/B testing
Chatbots give companies the perfect platform for experimenting with customer messaging. Bots can help with interactions at every phase of the customer journey, making them the ideal tool for collecting customer engagement data to shape your communication strategy.
With some chatbot platforms, you can set up A/B tests that show consumers different variations of the conversational experience. Half of customers might interact with a chatbot that asks them how their day is going, while the other half might interact with a bot that asks them if they need help. Based on responses, you and your team can determine which variations resonated with customers.
Metrics worth monitoring when A/B testing AI customer support bot messaging include:
- Activation rate: how long it takes for a customer to respond to your chatbot
- Self-service rate: the chatbot’s ability to resolve questions without manual (agent) intervention
- Retention rate: number of visitors that return to the chatbot within a specific time frame
- Confusion triggers: how frequently customer messages are misinterpreted by a chatbot
8. Bots help you collect feedback
Program chatbots to ask for feedback at the end of their conversations with customers. After it resolves an issue, the bot can send a single survey question in the chat to ask how the support interaction went. The customer can leave a 1 to 5 rating and/or include a written response. AI chatbots can analyze text to locate words with commonly negative or positive connotations.
To encourage feedback, chatbots can be programmed to offer incentives—like discount codes or special offers—in exchange for survey participation.
Companies can also search and analyze chatbot conversation logs to identify problems, frequently asked questions, and popular products and features.
9. Chatbots can offer multilingual support
Multilingual chatbots, also known as polyglot bots, are especially valuable for companies with American clients—especially considering that 21.5 percent of people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home.
Companies that provide customer service in languages other than English are rewarded for their efforts. Unbabel’s 2021 Global Multilingual CX Survey found the following:
- 68 percent of consumers would switch to a brand that offers support in their native language.
- 64 percent would pay a higher price for a product or service with a brand that offers a customer experience in their native language.
Program chatbots to address customers in their preferred language based on the person’s browser language or region.
10. Bots don’t get flustered
Customer service is a sometimes-frustrating profession that can lead to agents losing their patience.
Chatbots are programmed to always provide level-headed, polite guidance—no matter how long the conversation lasts and how the customer is acting. If the customer is rude or dismissive, chatbots can recognize language indicative of frustration or anger and formulate empathetic responses.
11. Chatbots provide a consistent support experience
Customers who frequently interact with you rarely talk to the same support agent twice. Because the level of knowledge and training varies from agent to agent, customers may experience discrepancies and inconsistencies when reaching out to support teams.
In our CX Trends Report, 68 percent of respondents said most businesses need to improve their customer service training. Agents agree—only 20 percent are satisfied with the quality of their training, and a mere 17 percent are happy with the frequency of training programs.
Chatbots are much easier to train. They function on predetermined frameworks and pull answers from a single source of truth every time, resulting in consistent customer service experiences.
Are there any disadvantages to using AI chatbots?
According to our CX Trends Report, 69 percent of customers are willing to interact with a bot to solve simple problems.
However, 54 percent also said their biggest frustration with chatbots is the number of questions they have to answer before being transferred to a human agent.
Companies can assuage that frustration by working to improve chatbot-to-human handoffs. The key is knowing when the transition should occur and making it as seamless as possible.
The benefits of AI chatbots apply to customers and agents alike
AI bots won’t completely replace customer service agents. Consumers will always want to know they can talk to another human, especially when it comes to issues that benefit from a personal touch. But for the simpler questions that don’t require a live agent, chatbots can get customers the answers they need faster than humanly possible.
Ready to experience the advantages of chatbots? Start integrating AI chatbot solutions into your customer service platform, and see how the technology takes your CX to new heights.