For years, businesses have craved the ability to address customer needs immediately.
But they’ve always struggled to pull it off.
With phone support, customers can get one-on-one help with any issues they’re having. But that usually only happens after the customer spends a hefty amount of time listening to shoddy music.
Then, businesses tried to automate their phone service. They hoped for several results.
First, they hoped that an automated phone service would cut costs by cutting employment.
Second, and more important for the customer, they hoped that long wait-times would become a thing of the past and customers would get their questions answered quickly and accurately.
If you’ve ever used automated phone support, you know how the story ends.
Automated phone support, while fast, did more to build customer frustrations than it did to help them. While it aimed to mitigate problems, it often amplified them.
Because, as it turns out, people get irritated by the stupidity of bots.
One of the more recent attempts at automating customer service is the rise of Facebook Messenger, which currently has over one billion users.
With that many users, Facebook Messenger must be doing something right. Something that perhaps the phone bots missed.
Truthfully though, it’s hard to tell.
Chatbots are in their beginning stages, and their potential is largely unexplored. But businesses who’ve taken on chatbots as a sort of early adopter are exploring these realms and revealing a massive amount of potential.
For one, chatbots are more customizable than their phone-call counterparts, and they’re more discreet since you can’t hear their unconvincing voice.
Will chatbots be the next best thing in customer service?
Well, they have a good chance.
And Facebook is the perfect place for them to live, with 76% of its users visiting the site on a daily basis.
Okay, okay. So Facebook Messenger is awesome. And chatbots might be awesome, but it’s difficult to know for sure.
What about your customer service initiative? How does all of this information benefit your customers, and more importantly, your business?
Well, before we dive into how you can use chatbots to predict customer queries, respond to them, and automate all of your follow-ups, let’s take a look at why chatbots are probably going to change your business forever.
If you let them, that is.
Our story begins with cavemen.
One caveman, let’s call him Rusko, is mad at his caveman buddy, Risko, for building him a spear that isn’t sharp. “Eh! Risko, not sharp!” Rusko shouts, trodding around and pointing at the tip of his spear that Risko gave him as a Christmas present.
Risko, calm and collected as ever, says, “Eh! Bring it here!”
Rusko clambers over to his caveman buddy. When he crosses the gap between them, Risko pulls out a shiny piece of rock, grabs the spear from Rusko, and drives the rock against the tip of Risko’s spear.
“There. Now sharp!” Rusko says. “Can I help you with anything else?”
You’ve just witnessed humanity’s first customer support moment.
Since then, customer support automation has come a long way. And today, bots rule the nest. Or, at least, they’re trying to.
Luckily for businesses, that might not be such a bad thing.
The bots are showing a lot of promise.
Between Facebook Messenger and Whats App — two chatbot platforms — users send 60 billion messages every single day.
This is important. It means that people like to use the platforms that chatbots hang out on.
In other words, the bots aren’t driving off the humans.
It also means that bots on these platforms have an opportunity to reach a massive audience or customer-base — a major win for any business.
Here’s what’s even more compelling. There’s not only a massive opportunity on Facebook Messenger, but 54% of customers actually prefer to interact through a messaging app instead of email.
That’s some promising information about the bots. But before you run off and start building your own piece of AI machinery, hear me out.
There’s still a place — an arguably very large place — for human interaction.
In the end, the only time that bots truly succeed is when they communicate with a person as though they themselves were a person.
That is to say that they understand all the complexities of human speech.
Obviously, they aren’t yet capable of that.
Why’s that important?
Because it means that you still need to have a backup plan for your bot.
There’s nothing worse than calling customer support, realizing the robot can’t answer your question, wanting a human, but no matter which buttons you hit, you can’t seem to get yourself redirected to a living, breathing, blood-pumping human being.
A bot can easily increase this frustration if you don’t allow for a human to step into the interaction when necessary.
Not to discredit the bot, but humans are still better at understanding other humans.
Regardless, let’s talk about how you can use bots on Facebook Messenger to automate your customer service process.
1. What is everyone asking you about?
Here’s the deal. No matter how much you and I want the world to spin the opposite direction, bots are still bots, and humans are still humans.
This means that bots are programmed by humans to interact in certain ways. They have no ability to interact of their own volition unless we teach them how.
This further means that you are the heart of the success of your bot. That’s right. You.
If you don’t design a bot that functions well and helps your customer or lead, it’s not the bot’s fault. It’s your fault.
And sadly, you’re not able to read your customer’s minds.
But don’t get discouraged. You don’t need to read their minds to know what they’re thinking. In fact, you can simply experiment to find out… or straight up ask them.
Regardless of what stage your business is at in its journey, you undoubtedly have some customer information. You understand who your ideal client is, what they are concerned about, and hopefully even have a list of FAQs.
That information is a goldmine for your chatbot to draw from.
With that information, you can decide which questions are most important for your bot to be able to answer. A great way to discover this is by asking your customer service team about their interactions with your customers.
Here’s a Facebook Messenger interaction with a support representative that a bot could easily handle if programmed appropriately.
Here’s the reality: Customer support is usually a matter of someone sitting down at their computer all day, clicking on pre-typed responses.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but that’s not a whole lot different from what chatbots can do.
This is a simple interaction with a chatbot that proves robots are capable of simple customer service interactions.
But here’s the thing. The bot has to be prepped and ready to answer these questions. Which means you have some upfront work to do.
Figure out which questions your customers frequently ask, and program answers to those questions into your chatbot.
Then your bot will be off and answering questions as complex as this.
Or even this…
But keep this in mind: Every robot needs a failsafe like every egg needs salt.
What’s that failsafe?
A human support representative who picks up any queries that the robot is struggling to answer.
In fact, your bot should just be a supplemental source of customer support. It shouldn’t be tackling the whole thing on its own.
But to use a chatbot at all, you’ll have to start by identifying the questions it needs to be capable of answering.
2. How can you respond to each person individually?
I already mentioned that bots need to be able to interact like people.
At least a little bit. But not too much.
Look, no one calls customer support with a desire to make a new friend. We’ve all been just as frustrated with the overly-friendly customer service employee as we’ve been with the unhelpful one.
People call for one reason and one reason only: to solve a problem.
They might be having trouble with your product. They might have a question about your product.
But they aren’t reaching out because they want to chat. I promise.
This fact goes for your chatbot just like it applies to your customer service team. Here’s an example of a wonderfully helpful chatbot.
This interaction is helpful because it makes the interaction dead simple for the customer. They don’t even have to type a response! They just have to click a button.
However, having said that, even customer service benefits from a healthy dose of personalization — knowing who the customer is rather than treating them like just another sheep in the pen.
In fact, with Opesta, you can add exactly that needed bit of customization for each client.
Just because people are calling to solve a problem doesn’t mean they want someone to read them a script.
Opesta funnels customer data into a single database and then interacts with the customers based on who they are, what they like, and how they interact with your brand.
That’s exactly the kind of personalization your chatbot needs: a friendly but not annoying touch.
Disney’s fun chatbot does a nice job of illustrating how personal a bot can be when it tries.
This is, of course, a game that Disney created. And you’re running a business. So how does this apply to your customer service?
Well, the point still stands.
Chatbots can be as personable as you want them to be.
Your goal with your chatbot is to find the balance between friendly and helpful. It should be a bit of both.
A great example of this is Celebstyle, which allows users to shop based on their favorite celebrity’s outfits.
This touch of personalization by Celebstyle allows users to shop, but in their own way.
Ask yourself this question: How can you use your chatbot to help customers, but also give them a unique experience.
You don’t want to annoy your customers, but you also don’t want to be as dry as a piece of bark on a slowly dying tree.
3. The importance of follow-up
Here’s what the death of your business looks like.
Customers and leads message you, asking questions about your product. They might want to purchase, or they might just want help figuring out how best to use your product.
Whatever the case, your inbox is popping.
But you’re a busy person. Running a business is no simple undertaking, and the last thing you’re concerned about is the red counter at the top of your Facebook Messenger app.
What happens next is simple.
You don’t respond. People lose trust. Your churn rate skyrockets.
Don’t believe me?
Consider this: 60% of customers hate you once they’ve waited for more than a minute for a response.
Of course, it’s not reasonable to assume you’re capable of answering all those messages within 60 seconds.
Which is exactly why you should get a chatbot.
Chatbot will not only save you from a case of customer-hatred, but it will actually make you money.
55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.
And 86% of active buyers would pay more for a better customer experience.
In the end, the robot might just rescue you from a dying business. 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after poor customer service.
Following up is critical for your business. It’s the yin to your yang and the peanut butter to your jelly. Moreso though, it’s the money to your business.
Which is good. You need money. Which means you need to follow up.
And if you want to save yourself a whole lot of headache trying to do it yourself, build a chatbot and teach it to do it for you.
Imagine a world where you could address customer concerns the moment that they arose.
Every salesperson knows that customer concerns are the ground upon which a sale lives or dies. Without ground that’s toiled and prepared to answer customer questions, your business will suffer.
But how do you do that?
Well, you need a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. You need to determine what your customer FAQs are, how you can make each interaction appropriately personal, and follow up quickly.
With those tricks at your disposal, you’ll spend less time answering questions and more time building a business.