Why a chatbot has never been a better resource
Bots, robots, chatbots. No, these are not degrees of comparison, but they are a way to facilitate certain business processes. Chatbots, for example, answer simple questions from customers via a website or social media. More and more companies are using chatbots to automate FAQs. Enter OBI4wan, a Dutch software company that has just launched a platform on which organisations can develop their own chatbots. “Without having knowledge of IT or knowing a single bit of code language,” says CEO Alexander De Ruiter.
These are uncertain times. The corona crisis is turning our lives and the functioning of our organisations upside down. It is therefore understandable that many customers have questions, such as “Can I return a package?” or “Is your store open during this challenging time?” These are all justified questions to which standard answers can often be given. Therefore, this is the perfect task to outsource to a chatbot, because this way an employee can focus on the more complex customer questions. “The corona crisis really emphasizes the importance and benefits of chatbots,” says De Ruiter. “They help even more customers with their questions and they lighten the work of the customer service employees.”
It’s so easy, everyone can do it
A chatbot with AI-components sounds very complex. And it is, but in the case of OBI4wan, you don’t notice this at all as a user. You log on to the platform, pick out a name for your chatbot, decide which questions it needs to answer and create integrations with other innovative systems. “You actually link little pieces together. You enter a possible question from a customer and connect this with the response the chatbot has to give to that question,” explains the Ruiter.
And yes, everyone can do it. “That’s the essence of our platform: everyone within a company can build a chatbot,” the CEO says. This doesn’t even have to take up much time. “Of course it does depend on how complex you want the chatbot to be, but in an hour you can create a good, advanced tool for your website or social media.”
While you’re going through the steps to build your chatbot, you receive useful tips to make your chatbot better and more efficient. “We launched our first chatbot platform 2,5 years ago. Thanks to the experience we’ve gained and the feedback from our customers, we’ve been able to build our new platform in such a way that it’s even more user-friendly. There are additional functionalities, interesting tips, and so on,” says De Ruiter.
A chatbot is not a replacement for employees
Yes, these chatbots can be a way for businesses to hold of on hiring an extra employee. And no, customer service employees don’t have to worry that their job will be taken over by robots. “These employees are incredibly important for a company,” emphasizes De Ruiter. “We always advise organisations to make sure that the chatbot can refer customers to an employee. Either because the customer asks for it himself, or because the chatbot indicates that it cannot answer the question.”
That’s because a big mistake that can be made is to set up a so-called ‘dead end bot’. “That’s a chatbot that says it can’t answer the question, but then fails to forward the customer and all the information this person has given to an employee. It’s not okay to have a bot tell a customer to ‘mail or call that person’, because then that customer has to tell his or her story again, which is anything but efficient.” De Ruiter emphasizes that it is important that the chatbot keeps track of the customer’s information and passes it on to customer service.
According to the CEO, this way a chatbot helps to make the work of customer service employees a little bit more interesting. “They don’t have to worry about answering standard questions anymore. This means they have more time to focus on the bigger problems, so that they can assist a customer more extensively if he or she has a complex question.” De Ruiter also notes that this helps to increase the customer satisfaction rate. “Customers receive a quick response via the chatbot, or get help more personally thanks to an employee. Either way, they receive help in an efficient way.”
De Ruiter says that companies should see a chatbot as an extra resource within the team. “It’s an employee like any other, but with the advantage that it never goes on holiday, never gets ill and is always ready for work,” he says. “People shouldn’t assume that once the chatbot is built, they don’t have to worry about it anymore. Just as you check with an employee to see if everything is okay, give him feedback or new responsibilities, you also have to maintain the chatbot.” The OBI4wan platform itself indicates when the chatbot needs an update. This can range from a technical adjustment to adding extra information so it can answer more questions.
For those who can’t wait to build their own automated employee, OBI4wan offers a free 14-day trial period. “We want to keep the threshold low,” explains De Ruiter. “Automation processes can be a big step, but this way we want to show that it really doesn’t have to be difficult. People within an organisation can gain experience during the trial period, see whether the chatbot suits them and whether it adds value to their business. We strongly believe in our product, so we are convinced that the chatbot is a true asset for most companies.”