Overcoming the Hurdles of Implementing Automated Customer Support


By Javier Gonzalez Helly, Co-Founder @Botfuel - March 19, 2019

Integrating chatbots into your workflow is easier than you may think.

Today’s customers demand a lot from brands and businesses. When they have questions or need help, they expect to get a response immediately. For them, it’s a business’s responsibility to be available 24/7. And whether or not businesses actually have the resources or budget to make their customer service teams accessible around the clock, they have no choice today but to step up their customer service game in order to meet these ever-increasing expectations.

The truth is, regardless of the size of your business (or your budgets), if you aren’t providing your customers with stellar, real-time support by now, there’s a good chance you’ve already let them down — and have likely made them a bit frustrated along the way. The battle for customer loyalty today revolves around the customer experience. One negative experience can be the “make or break” that potentially loses a customer for life. In fact, one-third of customers say they would consider switching companies after only a single bad experience. The last thing you should ever want is for your customer service efforts to be the motivation for your customers to cozy up to your nearest competitor.

Fortunately, intelligent automated customer service solutions, like chatbots, can help businesses avoid from keeping their customers waiting. This is especially important for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) and online-only ecommerce brands that don’t necessarily have the resources to hire and train a 24/7 customer support team. These tools can help ease the burden on human support agents by handling simple (and frequent) requests efficiently. This, in turn, frees up their time to deal with more complex customer issues and ultimately be more productive in their day-to-day work.

But those aren’t the only perks of implementing automated customer service solutions. Here are a few more benefits to keep in mind, especially if you’re still trying to determine whether or not this can truly be a viable solution for your business:

  • Low maintenance cost: Once properly implemented, chatbots can pretty much run on auto-pilot with minimal maintenance required. They just need to be “trained” once in order to know how to respond to your business’s most frequent requests effectively.
  • Quick response time: With chatbots, customers no longer have to wait minutes or even hours to get an initial response. They respond immediately. And if over the course of a conversation they can’t seem to resolve a customer’s problem or issue, they’re intelligent enough to know exactly when it’s time to collect additional customer information and pass that request onto the support team to handle.
  • Unlimited chats: There are no resource constraints with chatbots. For example, if you have 100 customers reaching out to your business for help all at the same time, your chatbots can respond to them all – at the same time. This basically means you can help more customers get their issues resolved a lot more quickly than ever before.
  • Multiple languages: For businesses operating in multiple countries or regions, chatbots can be customized to respond in whatever languages your customers speak. This helps personalize the customer experience and improve a customer’s ability to get help a lot faster.

So, why are businesses still lagging behind?

In spite of all these benefits, many businesses still haven’t embraced the opportunity and value of intelligent automated customer service solutions. A big reason behind this is because there’s still a general perception that implementing AI-fueled solutions is somewhat of an uphill battle, one with a rather significant learning curve. Whether businesses fear the time and cost involved, feel they lack the necessary skills to implement chatbots effectively, or are unsure of how to weigh the costs against the potential and oftentimes unknown benefits of implementing such new, innovative, and not always 100% battle-tested solutions, for many businesses this is simply uncharted territory. Add to that the fear of over-promising and under-delivering, and the entire decision-making and implementation process can quickly become overwhelming.

The problem is clear: there’s a broad assumption that implementing chatbots is a tedious, time-consuming, and highly technical process. This helps explain why many businesses — especially SMB’s with limited technical resources — have shied away from such solutions. And among the many reasons we’ve heard as to why businesses ultimately will decide against implementing chatbots, these are the three that resurface time and time again:

  • “It’s too costly and time-consuming.”

For some businesses, it takes months to design and deploy a chatbot. This can be the result of constantly editing the conversational design or iterating on the overall tech parameters of the bot experience itself. And depending on the technology used to develop the bot, it could feasibly require businesses to create and input thousands of user-like sentences just to train the bot and trigger its machine learning abilities. Not only is this a time-consuming process, but it also requires a number of dedicated resources to see the implementation through — and that costs businesses, too.

  • “We don’t have the skills to implement this kind of technology.”

AI, in and of itself, is not an out-of-the-box solution. It’s highly technical and typically requires a certain level of expertise to implement effectively. Many small businesses lack the specialist resources necessary to dedicate their full attention to the implementation of chatbots. This oftentimes leads them to being forced to work with an IT company — sometimes lacking true AI expertise — or to attempt to tackle the full implementation on their own, which can involve a steep and frustrating learning curve. Even worse, because so much attention is focused on the technical implementation of chatbots, many businesses fail to loop in their customer support team at the right time or even at all to ensure that the business’s needs actually match the technology that’s being implemented. After all, who knows more about customer needs that your own customer service agents?

  • “Will it actually work or deliver noticeable business value?”

Uncertainty about the impact chatbots will have on the customer experience continues to be a major barrier for adoption. Many businesses are reluctant — and rightly so — to dedicate time, money, and resources to developing and deploying complex AI-fueled solutions that may not ultimately drive significant results or help achieve broader business goals. We’ve even seen many cases where businesses have spent months training their chatbots only to see very little success once implemented. Oftentimes, this is a direct result of not assessing just how much of your customer service experience can actually be automated before building a potential solution. That’s really the only way to determine ROI in advance.

Not all AI chatbots are created equal

If you’ve ever found yourself in these same shoes, it’s easy to understand why: up until now, developing and implementing chatbots and other AI-fueled customer service solutions hasn’t been the easiest task. The good news, however, is that not all AI chatbot solutions are created equal, and thanks to the innovators at Botfuel, we’ve been able to simplify, streamline, and speed up the process of AI chatbot implementation like never before, making it possible to deploy an automated customer service solution within minutes (not months). This has proven to be a game-changer for SMB’s and ecommerce businesses alike. They now have an easy-to-implement solution that can essentially transform their customer service efforts overnight.

This has a lot to do with our overall approach and philosophy to chatbot development:

Quality over quantity

We know which conversations to automate – and we know how to automate them well. In fact, we analyzed thousands of customer conversations to get a clear understanding of what types of customer requests would be best suited for automation.

As you might have guessed, these typically fall into the category of simple informational or transactional requests that rarely require human intervention but, when responded to in a timely fashion, can enhance and improve the overall customer service experience in a big way. Depending on the industry, these make up about 50 percent of the requests that customer service teams receive every day; allowing chatbots to tackle these requests is an easy way for businesses to respond to more customers throughout the day quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

Our objective in all of this was to create a simple, turn-key solution that could upgrade a business’s customer service efforts in the shortest amount of time possible. We aren’t trying to automate every single request imaginable. But we do see automation as an effective tool that can work alongside humans to deliver outstanding customer experience and, as an added perk, make customer service agents more productive and effective.

Industry-specific customization

The work we continue to do to understand the nature of frequent customer requests is ultimately what allowed us to compile a series of industry-specific models of the most common customer requests. This truly serves as the foundation for what makes our AI chatbot offering so effective and easy-to-implement. Our customers come to us because we are the customer service automation experts. We did all this research and heavy-lifting upfront specifically to alleviate our customers from the burden of coming up with this content on their own. Regardless of what industry our customers operate in, we’ve already got highly-customized, out-of-the-box solutions that can be implemented in no time at all — and drive immediate results. Therefore, this means our customers no longer have to waste time, money, and resources on developing chatbots of their own that may (or may not) drive long-term value.

Pre-trained AI chatbot from day one

Additionally, by analyzing thousands of conversations across various industries and business sectors, we were able to understand how customers actually make requests with a high level of precision and specificity. For example, the types of service requests customers make for an ecommerce fashion brand can be significantly different than those directed to a consumer electronics company. This research allowed us to understand the full richness of language across different end-users, demographics, and industries. We were able to then incorporate and apply this knowledge into our AI models, enabling our AI chatbots to navigate the ambiguities of language with ease and to respond to all customer inquiries, efficiently and accurately. This is what you might call a “herculean task” and definitely not something that a resource-strapped SMB or ecommerce brand should ever attempt to tackle on its own. We put in the hard work of training our chatbots upfront to help our customers see immediate results.

Never stops learning

Botfuel’s AI-fueled customer service platform was built specifically to listen to new customer service situations and eventually evolve to handle more complex service requests over time. Not only do this alongside your business, but they also continue to learn and grow based on all the conversations they’re having via all Botfuel customers combined. This basically means that, regardless of whether your business handles thousands of customer requests per day or just a handful, the entire Botfuel platform continues to learn as a single AI ecosystem, becoming more intelligent, more effective, and more adaptable with each passing day.

Not so much a hurdle anymore

If there’s one thing you should take away from reading this, it’s that implementing chatbots and other automated solutions is not the same uphill battle that it once used to be. Today, however, you have two choices: 1) you can attempt to develop a chatbot of your own or 2) you can tap into the value of Botfuel’s full suite of industry-customized, AI-fueled automated customer service solutions to take your customer service efforts to the next level, fast.

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