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Tackling Misconceptions: Why Brands Should Give Next-Generation Chatbots a Second Look

A happy customer is a returning customer, but one bad experience can sour their view of a brand for years. There’s proof to back this up: in PwC’s future of CX report, a third of respondents said they’d leave a brand after one bad experience while 92% would abandon the company and move on altogether after two or three bad experiences. Slip-ups from the past can tarnish a consumer’s view of the brand in the present, which can be a challenge to turn around. The same can be said for perceptions of technology.

Take chatbots. In their early, clunkier days, chatbots earned a bad rap (and deservedly so). Legacy chatbots were unintelligent, inflexible, and prone to inadequate responses; customer-centric leaders and executives were intrigued by the technology but worried these tools would deliver bad experiences and drive customers away (which they often did).  But technology has come a very long way – especially when it comes to the latest generation of chatbots. Here are four commonly held misconceptions about legacy chatbots that are no longer true of today’s next-gen versions:

Misconception No. 1: Chatbots lack insights and have bad analytics. 

Great insights are required for companies to deliver positive customer experiences each and every time. In the past, chatbots fell short in collecting and incorporating meaningful data from customers, such as their specific needs and preferences that could inform future interactions. Today’s next-gen chatbots are the opposite and have the ability to capture analytics and provide actionable insights into customers to improve support operations. Next-gen chatbots include dashboards that allow support teams to see the types and frequency of questions that customers are asking. These dashboards capture the volumes trending over time and how often a chatbot is successful in resolving various types of inquiries.

Next-gen chatbots are strong digital allies of support teams and can help these teams identify customer pain points. With these identified, support leaders can start prioritizing the most frequent and impactful customer issues first. Going deeper, these next-gen chatbots prompt conversations to gather more details from clients on why an issue is occurring, giving further insight into how to best address issues or even making product or process changes.

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Misconception No. 2: Chatbots don’t keep customer information safe.

Data breaches can be a game-ender for a brand. Customers put their faith in a company and trust that their information is safe and secure. One breach and that trust is lost. Given this, some may be hesitant to integrate a chatbot into their customer support portfolio over privacy risk concerns. Let’s put this to rest.

There are next-gen chatbot platforms that are extremely secure, but companies should always do their homework as not all platforms are alike. The right platform will already have the right security, policies, procedures, safeguards and certifications (such as SOC2 and HIPAA to secure and redact sensitive data) in place to protect customer information. Most or all of the time, chatbots won’t require any access to personally identifiable information to provide support for customer inquiries, but in cases where data is stored, security needs to be considered.

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Misconception No. 3: Chatbots aren’t capable of working across multiple channels.

Another common misconception about chatbots is that they are solely for websites and can’t be deployed across all the platforms where customers reach out. Sure, they function well on a company’s website and app, but what about Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp?

Fortunately, next-gen chatbots are fully scalable omnichannel solutions that can work outside of the specific context or area (app or website) in which they were initially constructed. Next-gen technology allows companies to train their chatbots and deploy them across almost any channel their customers are contacting them from. It isn’t a massive lift. Organizations can implement an intelligent chatbot for a website, as well as virtually every other channel, allowing companies to provide a consistent customer support experience for every single interaction.

Misconception No. 4: Chatbots don’t drive revenue for businesses. 

Chatbots integrated with artificial intelligence can instantly resolve over 50% of customer issues, effectively decreasing the volume of support tickets and freeing up agents to handle more complex problems. Besides improving productivity, this delivers big savings for businesses. But can chatbots actually drive additional revenues? Many will answer, “no,” when it’s actually a resounding “yes.”

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Next-gen chatbots are a powerful tool that can help potential customers quickly find what they are looking for. To help customers achieve better and faster purchases, these chatbots are capable of fielding a customer’s product and service questions while also providing appropriate recommendations based on the chat and other contextual cues gathered during the interaction. Once a chatbot helps customers find what they need, it can add items to the shopping cart or prompt a direct buy. Viola! Revenue generated.

This isn’t limited to would-be customers either. Next-gen chatbots can also help current customers upgrade their accounts or add on additional services, software licenses and the like. If a customer is looking to cancel, an intelligent chatbot can also prompt special offers or connect customers with a retention specialist to reduce churn, leading to quantifiable cost savings and revenue preservation.

An intelligent, next-gen chatbot means greater insights into customer issues, consistency across communication platforms, faster more informed transactions for customers, reduced agent involvement, data security and more revenue for a company. It’s time businesses reassess outdated misconceptions and give chatbots a second look – both customers and their bottom lines stand to benefit.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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