Do you remember when you had to physically try on shoes in a shop to be certain of your size? When you could only make an insurance claim in person or by phone? How about having to call a company to lodge a complaint or speak with their customer service team?

Thanks to digital transformation, those days are – for the most part – long gone. As transformation has swept across every industry, from retail to insurance and government, digital transformation has created an expectation of what a positive customer experience should look like. Online communication and support tools have made it faster, easier and more efficient for customers to achieve their goals – whether that’s choosing the perfect mobile phone plan, finding an ideal Christmas gift for a loved one, or troubleshooting a technical issue.

This, combined with Covid-19 social distancing, means businesses have no choice but to embrace digital solutions to capture and retain market share.

Chatbots play a critical role in helping businesses to rapidly respond to the needs of both customers and staff. As of 2021, more than $4.5 billion is being invested in chatbot technology. At the same time, over 50 percent of enterprise organisations are expected to spend more on chatbots than mobile apps. The chatbot industry has proliferated within the customer facing space such as e-commerce but is slowly emerging within the B2B and internal facing environments – and it’s time for more businesses to get on board.

Read on to find out more about how chatbot technology can help grow your business, engage customers, support staff and improve efficiency.

Online experiences are changing the ways we interact

There’s no denying that smartphones and social media are deeply interwoven into the fabric of our lives. However, many businesses continue to underestimate the extent to which technology has changed customer and user behaviour.

In 2021, customer expectations are at an all-time high. People expect to be able to:

  • ‘Self-serve’ where it makes sense to do so – i.e., changing or cancelling a subscription service online or checking in to a flight via an app instead of at the terminal.
  • To communicate with businesses via messaging or live chat
  • Access near instantaneous support if they run into issues.

This is where chatbots, which use artificial intelligence (AI) to engage and support customers in real-time, come in. More than just a fad, the evidence shows that generational preferences for modern communication methods are shifting in chatbots’ favour.

In fact, 40 percent of millennials claim to engage with bots on a daily basis, valuing the ability to get information quickly or to resolve a problem on the spot. These benefits are shared by other audiences too. Around 55 percent of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company if they can message them. Meanwhile, 40 percent don’t care whether they receive assistance from a chatbot or a human – as long as they get the help they need.

And it’s not just customers who stand to benefit from the fast and convenient service that chatbots provide. From streamlining onboarding processes to responding to leave queries, internally facing chatbots also have immense value. Gartner predicts that 70 percent of white-collar workers will engage with chatbots daily by 2022.

So, what are the advantages of automation in business?

When used effectively, chatbots bring very real customer engagement, performance and financial benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other ways a chatbot can benefit your organisation.

1. Access to 24/7 support

Chatbots can respond to customer queries from any location at any time, eliminating the need to wait for standard business hours and reducing pressure on customer support staff.

2. Consistency of experience

With their reliance on AI, chatbots are designed to recognise common questions and provide a pre-determined response. This means that users are more likely to have a consistent experience that’s not reliant on people; the biggest variable for businesses providing any service.

3. Streamlining processes

Resolving a query or problem by messaging a chatbot is a much faster and easier experience (both for customers and support staff) than traditional methods of completing a contact form, sending an email or making a phone call. Chatbots not only reduce process effort but can provide a better experience for customers and staff alike.

Importantly, the benefits of chatbots can translate directly to improved performance for businesses. Juniper Research has assessed that by 2022, chatbots will save businesses an aggregate of over $8 billion per year.

How can chatbots support internal operations?

When most people think about chatbots, they imagine a standard customer experience like logging into online banking and being greeted with an option for live chat with a virtual assistant. And while that’s not incorrect, it’s not the only way that a chatbot can improve the customer experience.

Here are some of the many and varied ways that chatbots can enable a better internal experience for staff members:

1. Work more efficiently with enterprise tools

Chatbot capabilities are built into tools such as Microsoft Teams to help people work faster and more efficiently. The Microsoft Teams chatbot, for example, can provide information about the weather, make bookings and provide travel information, among a myriad of other tasks.

Custom bots can also be created to achieve a specific purpose, such as QBot, the education chatbot we built with the UNSW School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

2. Access first level support from corporate teams

Studies show that the typical office employee can spend up to 5 percent to 20 percent of their work day trying to find the information they need to do their job. That amounts to a whole 13 days of time per year. Virtual assistants can make a significant difference in helping employees to navigate their way through corporate information.

For example, our askSolution chatbot facilitates organisational knowledge sharing and provides instant answers to common questions. Variants such as AskHR or AskIT make employee self-service easy and reduces the volume of support requests for corporate functions.

3. Better document management

The best document management system is one that’s easy to use. Powerful search is one of the most important document management system features because it allows users to access what they need quickly, saving them from wasting time clicking through multiples folders and locations.

Bots are powerful tools when it comes to improving document management. They can scan through and analyse documents at speed and can be used to surface specific pieces of information on request. Significantly, bots provide a natural language alternative to traditional ways of searching for information.

For more about chatbot applications, read our blog post: 3 practical ways to use chatbots in your organisation.

Where to from here?

Antares Solutions is an industry leader helping businesses of all sizes to take advantage of artificial intelligence, including chatbots. To find out more about how your organisation can benefit, contact us today.