Why The Top Customer Self-Service Tools Are AI Chatbots
Published by
James Rice Mcaulay

Think for a moment about which of these two options you would prefer:

Option 1: Searching through a boring and hard to read FAQ page to find answers to the questions you need from a company.

Option 2: Using a simple and automated AI chatbot that seamlessly answers any questions you bring to the table (digitally speaking).

Unless you live in the stone age, it’s pretty obvious that the second option would be more convenient for you. And that’s how you need to think in terms of helping your customers. Would they rather do all the work themselves, or would they rather have a better perception of your brand by using an AI-powered chatbot that seamlessly does all the work for them? We think you know the answer.

Let’s now take a look at how customer self-service tools like a Conversational AI Chatbot are the optimal choice both for your business and your customers.

How has the perception of customer self-service tools changed over the last few years?

There are a number of reasons why people’s attitudes towards customer support have changed in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic immediately comes to mind. Thrown into a world of unpredictable lockdowns, people still need answers to their questions so that they can buy the products they truly need.

But the coronavirus pandemic isn’t to blame for all of these shifts in perception. Think about the mentality of the consumer. Millennials now account for the biggest share of consumers with the highest amounts of disposable income. In the US alone, experts anticipate millennial spending will exceed $2.1 trillion over the next 15 years.

Millennials and Gen Z make up your largest audience, so you need to tailor your website experience primarily to their interests. Neither of these groups want to sit on the phone for twenty, thirty, sixty, or ninety minutes waiting for support - they want answers right now. Some industry leaders have even dubbed millennials as “the mute generation” with 81% of millennial buyers admitting they avoid making phone calls at all costs.

What are the advantages of self-service for customers?

Given all of these behavioural patterns, it’s no wonder that self-service customer support solutions have such growing demand. Companies recognise that they need automated methods of answering common customer questions to provide the level of service that buyers expect.

Conversational AI Chatbots aren’t only useful for automating customer support, but they also help your brand increase revenue. In 2019, worldwide consumer retail spend via chatbot was approximately $2.8 billion. By 2024, industry insiders predict that spend will grow to $142 billion. There’s money to be made via chatbots, and the numbers show that consumers, especially millennial and Gen Z buyers, are willing to give your business revenue directly through the bot.

So what’s driving that growing engagement with website chatbots? Here are a few key reasons why today’s buyers prefer shopping with support from a conversational solution like chatbots.

1. Feels much more personal

You could read a bunch of jargon on an FAQ page, or you can have a digital shopping assistant help guide you to the answers you need. One is very technical while the other is helpful and more personal. Think about the traditional shopping experience; is it more personal and fulfilling for you to have a helpful representative guide you through the store, or to do all of the work alone? Chatbots are digital recreations of those in-store shopping assistants so that you get that personalised touch. Personalised chatbots lead to more satisfied customers and potentially higher order values.

2. A less strenuous path to the right item for their needs

Again, think about the customer experience. Would your shoppers prefer digging up all of the answers to their questions themselves through long-form FAQs, or receiving instant answers and guides to the items they need? Chatbots provide real-time service and support that can lay out simplified paths to conversion. 73% of shoppers say valuing their time is the best way a company can provide quality support. Chatbots provide instantaneous support, which demonstrates your commitment to save your buyers time on their buying journeys.

3. Access to information anytime, anywhere

One of the challenges for e-commerce brands is to provide customer support to a global audience. If your support staff is based out of one or two offices, you can’t be there for shoppers on the opposite side of the world when it’s convenient for them. Plus, the language barrier makes it very difficult to help people in far away countries that have different native tongues. Chatbots are available 24/7 and they can learn to communicate in any number of languages so that your shoppers get the best possible service anytime, anywhere.

The benefits of customer self-service for businesses

We’ve talked a lot about why chatbots are a great resource to help customers and the benefits that they provide to improve the shopping experience. But what are some of the business benefits of chatbots for e-commerce brands?

1. Sell more

Chatbots are proven to boost revenue for your brand. For example, Hertz Sweden used Kindly’s chatbot and conversion optimization solution tool to drive a 23% increase in total revenue for their business. The chatbot helped people get answers to their questions so that they would feel comfortable completing a booking on the website. It also allowed 35% of all Hertz Sweden customers to receive support outside normal business hours.

2. Improve customer support

This is a no brainer: chatbots have long been used to improve customer support, and that capability remains as true today as ever before. Thon Hotels is a perfect example in that they used a chatbot to automate repeat customer questions, which resulted in an optimized browsing experience online. Customers were able to get the questions they needed whenever and wherever, which contributed to a 30% reduction in call centre and email referrals to support reps from potential holiday goers.

3. Reduce costs

Paying to maintain a large support team is one of the biggest expenses a brand can incur. But what if you could reduce those costs and hire fewer people - all without reducing the customer experience? With a chatbot, you can! And this is precisely how Norwegian Airlines used their chatbot. Customers were able to get answers to their questions in real-time, which lowered the number of enquiries handled by live agents as much as 20%. This allowed Norwegian Airlines to save money on future hiring costs that could be reinvested into other parts of the business.

Customer self-service best practices

Now, let’s finish off with a few customer self-service best practices that chatbots deliver to your shoppers.

1. Balance automated and custom processes for a seamless yet personalised customer experience

Personalised customer experiences are the buzzword or phrase that’s here to stay. And for good reason: 80% of surveyed customers admit they want personalised experiences when shopping at an online retailer. With automated support through chatbots and structured website pages that make it easy to find the items they need, your shoppers can get the type of shopping experience they want and convert into a paying customer of your brand.

2. Consistently update FAQs as consumer behavior changes

The fact is that all experiences change and evolve with time. How people shop in-store is completely different from how they shop online, and both experiences are continuously updating as new products, new technologies, and new tastes and interests come into play. As you learn more about your shoppers, commit to updating your FAQs and other descriptions on your website so that you directly address the most recent buying needs. Plus, you can update your chatbot to engage with shoppers using these new behavioral trends as a guide.

3. Help > sell

This is probably the most important best practice to keep in mind: it’s far more valuable for the shopper to feel like they are being helped rather than pushed towards making a purchase. If you focus on providing outstanding customer service, you will naturally increase the amount of revenue you earn for your business. On the other hand, if you try to focus solely on making sales, you’ll drive your shoppers away and, ironically, reduce your total number of sales.

The best customer self service tools harness the power of AI

With Kindly, you can use chatbots and other conversational commerce practices to provide the best possible service for your customers. Our Virtual Shopping Assistant combines a multitude of conversational AI tools including chatbots, conversation optimization software, live chat capabilities, and cart abandonment email solutions so that you can help customers at any stage of their buying journey with your brand.

Kindly’s conversational solutions are a proven success for many brands, generating a 12% increase in conversion rates, a 25% boost in average order values, and up to 90% automation of common support enquiries. Harness the power of AI and deliver the shopping experiences that your buyers deserve from your brand.

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