14th September 2020

Is a chatbot relevant for your business?

Sarah Harris
Managing Director
Woman holding a phone

If you’ve interacted with a customer service agent using webchat this year, there’s a reasonable chance that you were engaging with a conversational AI application - a chatbot rather than a human agent.

From the failings of early chatbots in 2017 and 2018, the technology and chatbot UX is now much more mature and can deliver a consistently high quality experience when used in the right situation for the right task.

A chatbot uses a conversation between the user and the bot to fulfil a user need, with a bunch of technologies and integrations at the back-end. The key thing that’s going on here is that we make the interaction as simple as possible for the user, while using AI-based technologies to do the hard work.

Chatbot interactions can range from highly structured to open-ended. In reality most chatbots are a blend of structured and open-ended interactions. We advocate a “test and learn” approach, starting with a simple relatively structured approach and then iteratively building up functionality so that the bot can deliver more to the user over time.

So how do you decide where a chatbot might be appropriate for your organisation? When the Deeson strategy team is working with clients, we use a three part model to understand and evaluate opportunities for using chatbots as part of user journeys.

The user task

Firstly we look at the task that the user is seeking to accomplish. Will using a chatbot make that task easier or harder?

For example updating your address with your insurance company is a task where a conversational interface offers a quicker solution to the user than navigating a customer portal and having to find the right place to change your details.

On the other hand, doing the weekly online grocery shopping from scratch using a chatbot might take a lot longer than using a point-and-click web shop interface.

There has to be a benefit to the user for using the chatbot - for example time saved, simplicity or added convenience.

The user journey

As experience specialists we see the world in terms of user journeys. No user interaction exists in isolation of the wider journey the user is experiencing.

So it’s important that using a chatbot as part of this experience is seamless for the customer, whether that’s because it is the logical or easiest next step from an interaction on another channel or maybe the chatbot becomes the sole channel for the experience because it can replace the previous multi-channel experience (how many times have you tried to do something on a website then ended up calling because you couldn’t accomplish it online?).

The user context

User context is really important in experience. And the use of chatbots is no exception. Voice bots, such as Alexa, Siri or Google Home, offer genuine experience benefits as they can be used in situations where typing a message isn’t possible - contexts such as when driving or when cooking in a kitchen.

Similarly text-based bots work well where the user is able to concentrate on the device screen and physically use the keyboard, whether on a computer, mobile or tablet.

Taken together, these three factors are a useful guide to whether a chatbot is right for a user. We then go on to look at the organisational context - the volume of such tasks and the technical integrations needed - to determine a business case for building a chatbot.

From answering a simple query or making a booking through to delivering complex advice or diagnostics, conversational AI chatbots can work alongside existing sales and customer service channels to increase scale and reduce response times.

There are staff benefits too - a positive chatbot experience reduces customer frustration and anger, as well as helping improve staff experience. This can improve employee retention and reduce stress-related burnout.

In contact centre or helpdesk environments the agility of customer service chatbots means messaging or script changes can be rolled out instantly, helping contact centres provide accurate and consistent information during spikes in customer demand.

Improve the productivity of human agents in existing contact centres through more accurate initial enquiry routing, cutting unnecessary transfers and resolution times.

To find out more about how we can help your organisation understand the potential for chatbots in your digital experience, please get in touch.