The Evolution of the Chatbot Experience

The Evolution of the Chatbot Experience

Oracle Marketing CloudWe’ve all had experiences with chatbots and automated phone systems. From product and support issues to scheduling and ordering information, these automated platforms have become commonplace in customer service and other industries.

Early in the chatbot era, the experience was often painful — several different menu options would frustrate consumers, leading them to hit 0 just to speak to a live person. But thanks to advancements in technology and general comfort level, the experience and attitude toward these experiences with brands is beginning to change. Busy consumers are now becoming more comfortable using these automated systems and the systems have become smarter, friendlier, and faster at ushering in a new communication channel for consumers and brands.

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Chatbots are now able to process more data and generate better insights at faster speeds than ever before. They are enhanced with real-time data analytics and automation capabilities and have the ability to integrate intelligence across multiple digital channels to engage customers in natural conversations using voice or text.  These platforms leverage Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to understand context, derive intent, and identify and learn user behaviors and patterns to automate routine tasks such as expense approvals and meeting reschedules on behalf of the user.

Most new-age chatbots also have an instant app feature. After beginning with a series of general questions, the platform can sense if the customer is likely to buy something. If the system feels a purchase is imminent, the “Instant Apps” feature allows the chatbot to seamlessly transition from a natural language discussion into an app-like experience.

So, what will the integration of this new technology mean for customers? Most importantly, it means faster, more accurate service and better customer experience. If a question about a product or service arises you will be assisted by an agent who possesses the entire company’s collective experience and a huge wealth of knowledge. This includes the absolute latest data on issues other customers faced and how to solve them.

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Once the interaction is completed, the bot follows up with the customer to make sure everything went well using the channel of preference: email, messaging apps, a call back to your preferred number, a notification to your account on the website, or any combination of these.

Here’s an example: Last year, Mutua Madrid Open became the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Premier WTA tournament to incorporate an AI-equipped chatbot to improve communication with tennis fans. Implemented with Oracle Cloud Platform, the chatbot, named “MatchBot,” used AI to maintain natural conversations that provided fans with information on the event, players, and results, as well as details on hospitality services, discounts on merchandise, ticket sales, access, and parking.

For the company, the information generated throughout the entire process provides critical insights into customer behaviors and preferences. These reports can be used in several ways, from improving the experience for the next caller, to refining products and services, to personalizing future interactions. Critically, new age chatbot platforms can arm the team with a comprehensive report from multiple applications such as HR, ERP, CRM and CX.

Ultimately, there needs to be some collaboration between the bot and a live person. If there is an issue that needs to be escalated quickly — such as a life-threatening one — the bot should be able to detect this and hand it off directly to that person. Any delay in this transfer will cause unnecessary frustration, and possibly anger, damaging the user experience.  It also is quite reassuring for users to know that they can chat with a real person in certain scenarios, where a bot should not be given responsibility for handling critical processes or interactions.

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Chatbots won’t eliminate the need for live customer service agents. But with the ability to process information in greater quantity and at greater speeds than a live person, they are enhancing customers’ buying experiences while providing critical customer behavior data to companies. By using this data to improve the customer experience, companies can create a virtuous circle of satisfied customers who keep coming back. And isn’t that what every business wants?

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