Can conversation bots have value outside customer service?
Traditionally, chatbots have been relegated to customer service. But now that advances in machine learning and AI have created a new type of bot – a conversation bot – we can forget about chatbots. Conversation bots are finding roles all over the place and businesses are reaping the benefits.
Customer service through conversational tech
According to the latest figures from IBM, companies spend about $1.3 trillion on customer service calls each year. At 265 billion calls, that’s about $5 per call. Conversation bots, however, now handle many basic customer inquiries – IBM estimates up to 80 percent of routine questions. That leaves customer service agents free to handle more delicate or complex calls, increasing customer satisfaction while lowering agent workloads.
Research shows that conversation bots in customer service scenarios create enormous savings. Chatbots Magazine reported that conversational tech can reduce customer service costs by more than 30 percent. Those savings allow companies to invest further in customer support options, exponentially increasing the effectiveness of customer service for the same price they paid before.
Some companies use those savings to retain their best representatives. According to research from Quality Assurance and Training Connection, call centers experience up to three times the attrition rates of other industries in the U.S. Customer service representatives deal with lots of unhappy people, and when they hear the same problems day in and day out, they can quickly burn out. Conversation bots alleviate this pressure by handling the most repetitive problems, enabling companies to devote more resources to service agent retention and training.
While AI-powered conversation chatbots haven’t caught on in other departments yet, customer service arms have already seen incredible results from support automations. Juniper Research forecasts that smarter conversational technology will create $8 billion in annual savings by 2022, and that’s just in customer service departments. What will happen when other divisions recognize the immense potential of conversation bots? What new, creative opportunities to streamline their operations will they conceive?
The rise of the conversation bot
While conversation bots add value to customer service teams, companies should not limit their AI-powered assistants to those tasks alone. B2B companies in particular stand to gain significant advantages by democratizing conversation bots throughout their organizations.
In this sense, democratization refers to the shared accessibility of conversation bot technology. Many departments outside customer service would love to improve their workflows with the power of conversation bots, but until now, they have not had an opportunity to try. As more businesses recognize the value of conversation automation technology, more departments will gain access to tools that improve productivity, reduce employee stress and increase customer satisfaction.
Sales and marketing teams are next in line to experience the conversation bot revolution. Marketers can use conversation bots to increase personalization and engagement, while sales teams can use them to interact with prospects and amplify their abilities to close deals.
For marketers, who often struggle to classify leads using limited data, conversation bots are an advancement in lead qualification tools. Forms on websites collect limited information; AI-powered conversation chatbots connect the dots between website activity and submitted responses to organize them by likelihood to purchase. Marketers can then deliver the hot leads to salespeople to close the deals. Show me a salesperson who doesn’t want to hit or exceed their quarterly goals.
However, the utility of conversation chatbots is more than better lead qualification. While standard web content might engage a prospect for a moment, that content rarely creates a lasting relationship on its own. Conversation bots turn static encounters into interactive engagements, inviting site visitors to participate in a dialogue that increases the likelihood that they will return. Without conversation bots, someone who enjoys one piece of content might consume that piece and move on. However, conversation bots can introduce that person to other pieces of related content or start a conversation about a solution to develop a stronger relationship that increases a visitor’s affinity for a brand.
Sales teams, meanwhile, benefit from being handed qualified leads, having a bot auto-book a demo meeting for them and having tech that auto segments leads. Most salespeople hate spending time updating CRMs and data entry. While those low-level tasks need to be accomplished by someone, salespeople don’t want to do them. Tedious assignments don’t lead to goal achievement or bolstered commission checks. Salespeople want to do what they do best – talk to prospects and close deals.
The smartest conversation bots even assist salespeople during calls by suggesting relevant marketing collateral to address prospects’ concerns. Most large companies have deep pools of content, and few salespeople keep a perfect mental catalog of that information. Conversation chatbots can listen for key phrases and suggest case studies, product data sheets, and other items that help salespeople close deals they might otherwise lose. And after the call ends, AI-powered conversation bots can provide feedback to help sellers adjust their tactics for the next opportunity.
Conversational assistants have been shackled to roles in customer service for too long. This technology has empowered businesses to save money and increase effectiveness in one department for years – imagine what they could do if their powers were distributed across whole organizations. Sales and marketing departments are next on the list, but development, distribution, finance and other departments will get their turns soon. The democratization of conversation bots has begun, and the companies that learn to leverage these tools now will soon be in prime position for market dominance.