Chatbots: catering to the instant shopper

Chatbots are helping businesses interact with customers, providing that vital level of scalable customer service.

Chatbots are becoming an increasingly popular business decision, so much so that it’s becoming a crucial tool for managing changing consumer demands. Over two fifths (42%) of UK consumers admit to being more impatient today than they were five years ago, according to Fetch and YouGov’s new research, The Instant Gratification Nation.

Thanks to this changing behaviour, e-commerce merchants are expected to offer near-instant, responsive customer service. Interestingly, the study found that newfound consumer impatience is due to ‘an over reliance on technology to complete everyday life activities’. So what better way to combat technology negatively influencing consumer behaviour, than with technology itself?

>See also: 5 things marketers need to know about chatbots

The benefits of chatbots extend further than keeping customers happy. Due to the costs associated with live, 24/7 service across multiple contact platforms, customer service can be a significant burden to businesses.

When correctly deployed, chatbots are not only cost-effective, but they’re a simple way to improve customer service and decrease the number of chargebacks.

Why chatbots?

The intelligent bots are an appealing tool for merchants as they go beyond simply searching queries in Google to perform answer questions. The bots are designed to answer user questions and requests in a humanistic manner, streamlining business-consumer interactions; the missing link between man and machine.

According to Forbes, AI apps will account for 85% of all customer interactions by 2020, while TechEmergence claim that chatbots will be the top consumer application of AI during this period.

>See also: A CIO’s guide to chatbots: Everything you need to know

Therefore, a chatbot will increasingly be the first interaction a customer has with a business, allowing the user to relay their concerns while the chatbot collates important points.

These interactions can already be seen on social media and direct messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik and WhatsApp – Kik users already exchanged upwards of 350 million messages with bots as of early 2017.

The age of impatience

What’s further reinforced from the rise in popularity of social media chatbots is that modern day shoppers are unwilling to wait days for a response to a customer service enquiry.

Instant messaging apps are just that, instant. So, even if a complete resolution isn’t possible right away, customers can at least be acknowledged rather than left waiting. A simple greeting from a chatbot is enough to reassure a customer during their time of need.

>See also: Consumer receptiveness to chatbots is high

It is crucial that merchants take customer queries into account, to avoid losing customer loyalty. With four in ten online shoppers believing their feedback is overlooked or ignored, according to a survey by Qualtrics, merchants risk instigating a negative experience – or amplifying an experience that the customer is commenting on.

Knowing your customer

Chatbots operate by using algorithms. So, the closer a question comes to resembling a basic database query, the better equipped the chatbot will be in responding. Not every problem requires deep human investigation. Simple tasks like helping customers retrieve order information, or answering basic policy and procedure questions are ideal for chatbots.

A chatbot’s machine learning capabilities further streamline the customer service process. Every time a user interacts with a chatbot, the bot learns more about that specific user.

This ability is particularly useful for merchants, as the more often individuals engage, the more customer data will be collected. From customer data, merchants can create a bespoke experience for consumers, with the potential to greatly boosts loyalty and overall revenues.

Protecting revenue from fraudulent charges

While the immediate benefits may be more on a merchant’s radar: accessibility, accuracy, and efficiency of customer service, long-term benefits are equally important in enhancing businesses profitability.

>See also: Chatbots should be experts, not virtual assistants

Chargebacks, a huge threat to business, can be significantly decreased by streamlining customer service practices. Chargebacks differ from traditional refunds in one simple way: rather than contact the business for a refund, the consumer goes over the merchant’s head and asks the bank to forcibly remove funds from the business’s bank account. If the bank feels the cardholder’s request is valid, the funds will be removed from the merchant’s account and returned to the consumer.

The process is intended to protect the consumer against fraudulent transactions, however illegitimate chargebacks are increasing at an alarming rate. Each year the burden of mitigation is getting heavier and unnecessarily falls on retailers to defend their revenue.

With high quality, instantaneous customer service provided by a chatbot, customer complaints can be dealt with far more effectively, before the customer contacts their bank and resorts to the chargeback process– an £80 billion problem!

Man and machine: a winning combination

Over-reliance on any single technology or solution is a problem, and chatbots are no exception. Although there are huge advancements being made in AI technology, a chatbot that can be trusted with full autonomy is still years away. It’s therefore still advisable to provide 24/7 live service for those who want access to human-based customer service throughout their enquiry.

>See also: The virtual assistant: the banks who are deploying chatbots

Overall, chatbots are an important channel for creating seamless customer interactions, decreasing chargebacks and learning more about customers. However, effective results from chatbots are only possible when they’re properly deployed.

If the bots are not expertly managed, they may have the opposite effect, causing greater customer frustration and, ultimately, more chargebacks. Advanced chatbots, combined with human support will create the perfect revenue boosting tool, protecting businesses against the impatient generation of shoppers.


Sourced by Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and CIO of The Chargeback Company

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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