AI chatbots can open the door to better digital experiences and increased customer conversions. But they can also tank your customer experience. Here’s how to get it right.
Today’s consumers expect businesses to deliver a personal and on-demand experience 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. Companies in every industry need to expand their approach in order to give customers the control they seek and convert the influx of high-touch interactions into paying customers.
To meet this demand, many businesses have turned to intelligent chat agents. Chatbots are uniquely equipped to conduct highly personalized and instantaneous conversations, meeting their needs while simultaneously advancing them through the buyer journey. The right chatbot can allow your customers to ask any question in plain English instead of having to poke around product pages, blog posts, and downloadable content to find the answers they need. A sophisticated chat strategy can even draw existing customers’ data into the conversation in order to better serve their needs and advance their journey.
However, chat solutions in and of themselves are not a panacea. While effective chatbots have proven to increase online conversions by 20 – 30 percent, a poorly planned chat program can sometimes do more harm than good. But when a chatbot program is carefully planned and skillfully executed, it makes it easy for businesses to move leads forward faster, more efficiently, and at scale.
1. Put Your Audience First
When designing your AI chat assistant, think about your market. You should design your agent based on who you know your customers to be, including your understanding of their conversation style. Does your audience like humor and charm? Or do they prefer to get straight to the point? Once you know who you’re speaking to, you’ll be able to determine your agent’s personality and tone of voice.
We already know that personalization is key for chat interactions…
80 percent of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a company that provides tailored experiences.
There are countless ways to introduce a personal touch. Start by addressing customers by name and asking them about their personal preferences to help them experience your product or service as tailor-made for their needs. The more you know about your customer, the easier it will be to customize their in-chat support.
An artificial intelligence (AI) agent can use location data to help pinpoint convenient locations, for example, or remember birthdays and special occasions to offer discounts and custom celebration messages. But personalization can’t outweigh relevance; if a customer is looking for technical support, your intelligent chat assistant shouldn’t force them through a sales funnel. Make sure to address customers’ stated purpose, whether that means answering questions directly or providing links to helpful resources.
Another important best practice for chat nurturing is brevity. Offer bite-sized responses to keep customers on track instead of inundating them with options, and respond to general questions with specific account details whenever possible. That way, your agent will incorporate personalization and relevance into concise answers that both meet and anticipate your customers’ real-time needs.
2. Create Helpful and Intriguing Conversations That Convert
In order to make sure your chat agent is as helpful as possible, it’s worth mapping out possible flows of conversation. Imagine how interactions with your customers might unfold and plan ahead for successful outcomes, dead ends, and re-engagement strategies depending on their potential responses.
Then build a knowledge base that your AI assistant can tap into in order to complete those chat flows effectively. The more material in your knowledge base the better; you can include standard messages, frequently asked questions, helpful links, product descriptions, and more. If your chatbot platform can handle multimedia content, you can organize those visual assets in your knowledge base too. For example, GIFs, videos, stickers, graphics, buttons, and other forms of rich media content can animate chat conversations and make them leap off the screen.
Rich media content helps infuse intelligent chat agents with personality and creates memorable experiences for customers, but always remember the purpose of the conversation. Prioritizing clarity around your customer’s goals (and your agent’s capabilities) will ensure satisfaction and help them get where they’re going; GIFs and stickers should be the icing on the cake.
3. Avoid The Common Pitfalls of Chat Assistants
One of the greatest advantages of intelligent chat assistants is that they get better over time. AI-powered agents will learn through experience and improve as they complete more and more chats. With that said, it’s never a good idea to set an untrained chatbot loose on real customers. Have your staff test your agent internally before making it available to a wider test audience and eventually releasing it to the public. You should continuously monitor performance and collect feedback to make sure your agent is indeed improving and learning, even post-launch.
In order to successfully monitor your intelligent agent, decide on the performance metrics you’re going to track from day one. Determine how you’ll measure success and identify KPIs like total conversations, engagement rate, duration, and handover and fallback rate. That will help you create the guardrails for your agent to continue improving towards its specific goals, constantly iterating toward chat perfection.
No matter how accurate your AI agent gets, customers will sometimes need an intuitive off-ramp to another type of interaction. Smooth over the handoff to a point of sale, live agent, or even a dedicated email address in order to create easy and seamless transitions and avoid customer frustration or drop-off. Even the off-ramp should help customers achieve their stated goals and move them through the funnel.
Whatever industry you’re in and whomever your customers are, intelligent chat nurturing is a powerful way to deliver custom experiences that convert.