The Rise of Chatbots: Using Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service

Author: Sonia Older  |   Date published: May 23, 2020, UK  |   Read est: 5 min read

Thanks to rise of friendly home-user apps such as the ubiquitous Alexa, Siri and Google, consumers are feeling far more comfortable talking to artificial intelligence than they were even just a year ago. There’s no reason why this shift can’t work for businesses too, AI is a reliable way of communicating with customers and yet less than 1% of companies are using automated chat. And a 2019 report released by Contact Babel> found that only 13% of contact centres in the UK are actively using AI based solutions.

In order to work more efficiently and intelligently modern customer contact centres should be looking to employ an AI solution. Of course, most customers would prefer to interact with a human being when something goes wrong, but for a simple, ‘first line of defence’ approach chatbots or virtual assistants can work extraordinarily well.

But newer solutions can offer so much more than the ubiquitous chatbots, conversational AI adds a scalable and personalised option making it ideal for customer service.

man using live chat

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot can be described as a conversational platform. They can automate and repeat tasks based on instructions. Owners define the input, content and rules and the bot will provide a fixed response, resulting in a ‘tennis match’ style conversation. It requires continuous instruction and doesn’t take any action outside of the rule set.

Most companies will hold data about their employees, customers or clients and it’s your responsibility to protect it. Any vulnerability within your IT infrastructure or personnel systems can lead to the data you hold and process being lost or exposed, and that is illegal.

A standard chatbot will typically comprise of four parts:

  • A user interface that receives the request and delivers the response
  • A natural-language processing and generation engine
  • A search engine that can traverse data repositories of knowledge and content
  • A context engine to analyse and handle the intent

And conversational artificial intelligence?

Conversational AI incorporates the same four parts of a chatbot, but with an additional but a very important 5th part: artificial intelligence.

This bringing together of simpler conversational platforms with artificial intelligence offers the ability to capture customer intent accurately and handle unexpected inputs better, with an added continuity of learning that ensures a high-level customer experience.

So, what does this mean for my business?

The technology is now so advanced that no matter what your business there should be an appropriate solution. An intelligent system uses natural language which isn’t off-putting for customers and with learning inherent in their set-up their responses are usually correct and helpful.

For high-volume call centres using a live-chat or virtual assistant is an ideal way of tackling initial contact from customers or diverting enquiries to the correct place and can absolutely enhance a customer’s journey – which is probably a good approach if they’re calling to make a complaint!

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The benefits of using customer service AI:

No downtime: Even when your human staff are in bed or on holiday there can be a presence online 24/7. AI can offer an immediate or holding solution for impatient or insomniac customers.

Best use of resource: Even the simplest of chatbots can answer basic questions about opening hours, helpline numbers, outages, store locations or current promotions. Freeing up staff for more involved enquiries.

Customer preference: Today most consumers would prefer to make simple transactions, such as making bookings and payments, without human interaction. Harsh but true!

Ease of use: A virtual assistant can automatically fill in information reducing the need for time-consuming and frustrating online forms.

Proactive interaction: Whilst browsing your site looking for information a live chat function adds interaction to a customer’s experience by asking immediate questions.

Consumer data and insights: Virtual feedback can provide invaluable data about how your company is communicating and performing. This insight can inform future decisions about marketing, development and sales.

Cost-effective: A learned and experienced AI will reduce the cost per contact for most call centres.

At Focus Group we work closely with contact centres to create a bespoke solution that allows customers to get in touch using a variety of methods, of which artificial intelligence plays a big part. Working with Cirrus, our contact centre partner, we can build a cloud-based contact centre full of added features and that uses constantly evolving and robust technology to create an exceptional customer experience.

Vicki Rishbeth, Technical Director at Focus Group, says:

"A modern contact centre that can manage an increasingly wide range of channels and keep up with expectation of rapid response times will stay ahead of the competition and improve customer satisfaction. Our contact centre solution includes Cirrus AI, an enhancement with a deep learning system to deliver increasingly accurate and relevant information, making it a conversational AI that stands head and shoulders above chatbots in the market today."

Sonia Older photo

Sonia Older
Brand & Campaign Manager

Sonia Older is the Campaign Manager at Focus Group and a highly experienced copywriter. She boasts over 20 years of experience in content marketing and PR across multiple industries, and is the key driver of content and PR for Focus Group across all UK offices. Away from work, Sonia usually swaps keyboard strokes for ski slopes in the Alps with her family.

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