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Chatbot integration for customer support

Choosing the right channels and understanding the challenges of chatbot integration are essential to reaping all the customer service benefits of a chatbot.

Last updated February 1, 2023

80 per cent of customers have a positive experience with chatbots. No wonder Zendesk’s CX Trends 2020 report found that more than half of all businesses are planning to increase their AI budgets next year.

There’s no doubt that chatbots can do wonders for customer service. But they’re no quick-fix. And integrating a chatbot needs careful planning and execution—only then can you look forward to welcoming a valuable addition to your customer support team.

Chatbot uses

Chatbots are there to help. So, it’s important to decide exactly how yours will help:

  • Support: a simple chatbot can answer basic questions and provide information (e.g. from a knowledge base), links, or custom actions (e.g. newsletter sign-up).

  • Classification: a chatbot can help you quickly determine what a customer wants so that complaints and questions end up with the right teams and agents.

  • Guidance: more advanced conversational chatbots can help you guide your customers through your customer journey.

  • Listening: AI-based chatbots can help you understand your customers’ needs, solve their problems, and improve the customer service experience.

But if you’re considering a chatbot for your business, there are two main things you need to keep in mind: challenges and channels.

80 % of customers have a positive experience with chatbots

Chatbot challenges

Integrating a chatbot presents a few key challenges from accuracy to expectations. But we’ve identified six simple steps to help ensure your chatbot integration is a success:

  • Set achievable goals: make sure you know exactly why you need a chatbot and set realistic aims, i.e. decide whether your chatbot will handle fewer questions to provide more precise answers or more questions but risk less accurate answers.

  • Select appropriate channels: you should focus on the channels where you communicate with your customers most, whether that’s WhatsApp, your website, your app—or all three. Also, make sure your chatbot won’t be limited by a certain channel.

  • Develop accurate responses: you’ll need to train your chatbot to understand customer queries and provide accurate responses. This can be a challenge, especially for more complex tasks like troubleshooting and recommendations, so take your time to get it right.

  • Craft conversations: you also need to ensure that your chatbot provides customers with a natural and intuitive experience. Consider how conversations will develop and include features other than text where appropriate.

  • Manage customer expectations: chatbots aren’t perfect, so it’s important to be clear about what your chatbot can and can’t do. Also, make sure it hands over to an agent at the right moment because 89% of customers find repeating their question frustrating.

  • Add personality: your chatbot should be likeable and provide experiences as similar to real-time interactions with your agents as possible. Make sure it reflects your company’s values and tone, i.e. think about how to get your chatbot to stay on brand.

Chatbot channels

Probably the biggest decision you need to make though when it comes to chatbot integration is where to implement your chatbot. This will naturally depend on your customers’ needs and preferred channels, but let’s focus on channels. There are two main categories: synchronous messaging (live chat) and asynchronous messaging (e.g. WhatsApp).

Chatbots for live chat

Synchronous messaging is a real-time conversation, just like a phone call, with a clear beginning and end. In other words, it’s a live chat.

There are two main places you would typically integrate live-chat chatbots:

  • Websites: this is a popular option as it ensures your chatbot is easy to access and visible. The downside is that most customers don’t tend to go to a company’s website when they have questions or complaints.

  • Apps: your own app is a great place to communicate with customers. However, integrating a chatbot in-app can be costly and challenging depending on your solution.

Tip: use our Chat Conversations API to bring chatbot conversations into Zendesk Chat and let your chatbot respond to customers just like an agent.

Chatbots for messaging

Asynchronous messaging allows your customers to respond and end conversations when they want, regardless of the channel.

Asynchronous messaging is perfect for messaging apps because it allows you to meet your customers on their preferred channels for a smoother customer experience. However, you’ll need some technical know-how to implement a chatbot into messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger. And don’t forget each platform has its own set of chatbot development tools and guidelines.

Tip: use Sunshine Conversations to connect your chatbot to Zendesk Support for rich message types (e.g. carousels and forms) and advanced features (e.g. automation).

As you might have realised, integrating a chatbot on individual channels is both time-consuming and inefficient—not to mention painful for agents, who will have to switch between different systems.

But there’s a better way: an all-in-one solution like Zendesk allows you to connect your chatbot to all your communication channels and CRM. Let’s see what this means in practice.

Tile

Tile is a consumer electronics company that helps millions of people around the world find their items. The company was founded in 2012 and has been using Zendesk to manage its customer service since 2013.

During the pandemic, Tile’s customer service team integrated a chatbot solution using Zendesk’s flexible and scalable APIs. Aside from amazing conversational experiences and helping the team support even more customers, the chatbot also prioritises and routes tickets to the right channel, and puts troubleshooting recommendations up front thanks to a customised workflow.

All of this has helped improve the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction by 14 per cent. What’s more, average handle down has fallen by 40 per cent and customer wait time by 28 per cent.

The chatbot performed even better than we expected… People would launch the bot and it would help right away. Customers were like, ‘Oh yeah, that worked. Thank you. Have a nice day.’ That was incredibly important in helping us manage the contacts we receive on any issue. - Justin Michaud, Senior Customer Support Manager at Tile

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