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Article 3 min read

How to get your chatbot to stay on brand

By Peter Lorant, EMEA COO at Zendesk

Last updated August 22, 2022

What do you do when your chatbot doesn’t behave in a way your customers like? That might have seemed like a hypothetical question just a few years ago. But now, companies are using chatbots more, and customers are holding them to a higher standard, just like they do with human service agents. The challenge is now on for businesses. AI tools not only have to work from a technical standpoint, but they also have to reflect company culture. And it’s not a task that every business gets right.

First, let’s look at why this is so important. If you’re using automated agents that can reply to customers in seconds, one might assume it boosts CX scores immediately. However, first response time is just one metric among many other lines of data to keep an eye on. A quick reply that is tone deaf, repetitive or out of context can be a big turn off. If you’re a luxury brand aimed at the over 60s, you might not win over customers if your bot talks like a teen or lacks empathy.

It’s very easy to lose business in the current climate. The cost-of-living is biting hard, and customers and businesses are scrutinising every penny they spend. Businesses are having to think more creatively to perfect the fundamentals of customer service. And that increasingly means getting the technology right.

A growing pursuit

Companies are increasing the use of automation in their customer service operations. Travel and hospitality is just one sector where this rings true. Just over a quarter of businesses worldwide in the sector use chatbots to make bookings and enquiries. And a study by Zendesk found that 57 percent of businesses across all sectors plan to increase their AI budgets by at least 25 percent next year.

But not all AI solutions are created equal. And there’s a lot to lose if you back a solution that underperforms. What’s more, 55 percent of people surveyed in EMEA say they don’t get accurate answers from chatbots. There’s much to improve if customers are to get the service they expect.

Next steps

Customers see a chatbot as an extension of your team of agents. Thus, they expect a consistent tone of voice and experience whoever they speak to. Here are some key things to think about when it comes to rolling out a chatbot that fits in with your overall brand.

Find the purpose – Chatbots are kinda cool. They can make you more efficient and can even kick start new areas of growth. But what’s your reason for getting one? If you’re simply looking to cut costs, take caution. You might end up short-changing the customer, and that might damage your brand in the long run.

Nail the tone of voice – The tone of voice used by your chatbot will impact how customers perceive your brand. It’s important then that you bring all the necessary people to the table when creating the solution – not just the techies. The marketing experts in the business should be able to contribute so that the bot talks in a way that fully represents the company vision. And for companies with a global footprint, understanding what works well in one culture might not work in another.

Be transparent – Customers like it when companies communicate in a way that’s honest. Zendesk research found that 90 percent of consumers place a high value on authenticity. That means, it’s always best practice to let customers know when they’re speaking to a bot. This will help them to manage their expectations and will ensure trust remains high.

AI is a tool that holds a lot of weight. It can make or break a company’s reputation. It’s important at every step to test, test, test. Make improvements and test some more, to make sure those improvements were worthwhile. The technical pursuit of getting this right should marry with the message the brand wants to convey. When it does, the experience for customers will be seamless, not jarring.

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