Let’s chat about bots
A robot helper, virtual assistant, chatbot; according to Gartner* these are now at the top of the hype and more and more companies are switching to the implementation of the software. OBI4wan, on the other hand, sees that many organizations are still hesitant about the robot. They struggle with the question how a chatbot can contribute positively to the customer journey. “Unknown makes unloved”, signals Alexander de Ruiter, CEO of the software supplier.
According to de Ruiter, the perception that a bot can do anything is far from being a reality. “You shouldn’t want that either. First you have to gain experience with it and look at the development. Identify frequently asked questions and then build the answers into your standard processes and social media platforms.
The combination of man and bot
The way in which a company achieves the best results is to let a bot act as a work preparer. The CEO of OBI4wan mentions bol.com as an example. The online retailer has a chatbot take care of the communication regarding orders and returns. “In the past, the customer used to send a message about an order, after which an employee had to keep on asking endlessly to obtain all the necessary information. Now the bot reads a message and through Natural Language Processing (NLP) knows what it is about and what the customer needs. If the bot does not know the answer, the question then goes on to an employee. The valuable and efficient part of this system is that the employee gets to see the case and knows exactly where to take over the conversation. This seamless approach is directly reflected in customer satisfaction: companies that provide this form of communication with the customer measure a 10% higher NPS than companies that only offer one of the options. “The bot is there for efficiency; the employee for empathy. Because of this effectiveness, a bot creates a better customer experience.”
A chatbot only lacks its effectiveness when a company integrates a dead-end-bot into a chat and lacks the transfer to a human employee. “This link is crucial. When a customer is continuously referred and has to tell his story again – to man or bot – the virtual assistant adds nothing to the customer experience. In creating the link, OBI4wan can help a company and make the bot part of the team. Because the employees can see what the chatbot does within the same webcare environment, employees really start to see it as part of the team. This ultimately also results in a better experience for the customer and increased customer satisfaction. OBI4wan predicts that a bot will now conduct part of the customer conversation, but will eventually operate more independently. However, this does not have to be a cause for concern. “Although bots are becoming smarter, we believe that people remain necessary. Robots will not replace people. The interpretation of labour is changing, however. Just look at agriculture – decades ago, other work for automation took its place. However, the company does see that processes can often be more effectively organised by organisations.
To let a chatbot really make a difference, de Ruiter taps to give these specific tasks. “You can then have these specialised bots work together; see it as putting together a multidisciplinary team. That this approach leads to success is demonstrated perfectly by bol.com and HEMA after the implementation of the software. At bol.com, 36% of the costs have been reduced and employees have 20% more customer interactions per hour. The use of the chatbot has freed up time for specific customer cases. HEMA saw a cost reduction of 17%. This Dutch retail chain monitors the customer experience by manually evaluating whether the chatbot did something right or wrong, or did not take action in a situation where the customer wanted action.
In order for such a chatbot to function flawlessly, it is important to train and set up the bot effectively. Data from customer conversations are crucial for this, emphasizes the CEO. “The bot needs data to learn from. The best tip is to collect data right now. A chatbot needs the natural language of customers to be able to speak to them. Especially in the development of chatbots that provide specialist webcare, customization is required. A good software supplier needs knowledge of the field. “That is also what Gartner ** says,” adds De Ruiter: “Choose a supplier who has cases and make sure that you have room to test with other applications in the long term. Because developments in the market are going very fast.
OBI4wan builds the platform and can use components from others, such as emotion recognition. The company is currently developing a language analysis with emotion recognition. “This adds a completely different dimension for the customer and makes making contact easier. A company hardly needs to do anything for this, we implement it and offer it.
Alexas on customer service
Developments in the field of artificial intelligence and chatbots are going fast. The use of technological innovations is no longer exclusively for top 100 companies, but can also be used by SMEs. “The normalisation of rates makes it possible, among other things, to use bots in all kinds of industries, such as municipalities. Such a platform can be used jointly. The future is fast approaching, according to OBI4wan. “The Google Home’s and the Alexas will find their access in customer service departments. There’s almost no other way – speech recognition is growing all the time. De Ruiter illustrates this with bot-to-bot conversations that will eventually lead the conversations at contact centers. “If bots hit a dead end, a human employee is called in. In the Netherlands, the use of voice assistants is still in its infancy, but that is really the future. A future for which OBI4wan is ready”.