Over the last 10 years, the explosion in popularity of powerful, portable devices such as smartphones and tablets has heavily influenced the way companies interact with their customers. People expect quick and increasingly detailed responses to their inquiries. The last thing they’d want is to go through a slow and painstaking process of calling a sales or service rep. Luckily Salesforce has noticed this challenge and has been working hard to provide solutions that will meet customer demands. One such solution is the chatbot and in this blogpost we’ll go through the basics of what a chatbot is, and how you can take advantage of them to improve the sales and service experience for existing and potential customers.
* Please note: The screenshots used in this blogpost are in Dutch
So...What is a chatbot?
Chatbots are a type of computer software that aims to replicate human conversation skills as well as possible. In essence, it’s a computer program you can talk to. They’re not a new invention though, the earliest examples even date back to the 60s! Granted, these were not nearly as advanced as the ones you’ll come across today.
In fact, they’re pretty popular already, you might even have seen one in the wild before. Those little windows that pop up letting you know you can ask for help by chatting with an agent? Yep. Those are chatbots. Retailers like Amazon or Bol.com have been experimenting with the technology for years now. They’ve been using them to automate simple tasks like refund requests, providing package tracking information and providing after sales support. In essence, chatbots can offer customers a variety of out of the box answers for frequently asked questions.
Why should I use chatbots?
As a company, sometimes the question is not always how? Most of the time, It’s why. From what we’ve seen before, it certainly is a cool technology, but what kind of benefits can they provide? I have tried to compile a concise list of the pros of using a chatbot:
- They save time. Chatbots are great at performing simple actions and answering questions. Why would an agent have to spend time scheduling appointments or answering basic questions if a bot could do it just as well? In case the user needs a more complex case handled, the bot can guide them to the right department or person. Overall, agents have to spend less time on trivial things, which opens them up to handle complex cases.
- They save money. As mentioned above, chatbots reduce the workload on the service agents. Your current agents can focus on being more productive by handing over the most basic support or information requests to the bots.
- They are always available. As with every Salesforce product, they live in the cloud. There is no need for them to sleep, eat, take breaks, commute to work, or go on vacation. Bots are available to the customer 24/7, even when all the humans have gone home for the day.
- They make it easy to provide multilingual service. In today’s global society, not everyone is skilled in the mother tongue of the country they live in. Companies often operate in several countries. Chatbots can easily be translated to support other languages or regions. Third party services like Google Dialogflow also offer translation features that tie in to the Einstein Bot platform.
- They can handle a lot of questions at the same time, from different customers. Compared to humans, chatbots scale well. For example, it’s no problem for them to handle a hundred users at a time with the same level of attention and care, while a human agent needs to pay attention to ensure high quality service.
- Last but not least, they are fun! Chatbots are funky, fresh, and trendy. Deploying one can also improve your brand image. It offers an extra touchpoint for customers to interact with your company. Even more, they’re often the first point of contact for potential customers. By providing a refreshing and dynamic first impression, chatbots can help visitors convert into customers.
Salesforce Einstein Bots
Einstein Bots is Salesforce’s own chatbot system that is baked right into the platform! It was added as part of Service Cloud with the Summer 2018 release and they’ve been improving upon it ever since.
Because this platform is built right in, it’s easy to work with data from the Salesforce database. Other solutions require a software ‘middleware’ layer that translates data from and to a company’s data storage and other IT-systems. This dramatically drives down development cost/time and maintenance costs. Einstein bots can also access Salesforce native development systems like Flows and Apex code, which allows developers to enrich a bot’s abilities enormously. Though, depending on the complexity of the requirements, one can be made without having written a single line of code.
Furthermore, they can be deployed on a wide variety of media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, A livechat window on a website or even SMS! And for existing users of Salesforce Chat and Omni-channel there is more good news. Bots fully support routing conversations to the right person based on customer input, they can even link the correct Account, Contact, Lead or Case! All this allows them to elegantly hand over conversations to human agents if needed.
Great! I can replace all my agents with chatbots!
Not so fast… It depends.
Though contemporary chatbot tech is lightyears ahead of what we had even just ten years ago, it’s still not good enough to completely replace human agents. People will still be needed to handle complex cases that require a deep understanding of context and conversational nuances. Furthermore, a human is great at adapting to new situations and handling a wide variety of tasks, even if they haven’t encountered it before.
A bot can only support the actions that it’s been programmed to do. You could argue that you’d just have to set up the bot to handle lots of different topics. But trial and error has shown that one of the major reasons why chatbots deployments fail, is because they turn out to be a jack of all trades but a master of none.
Finally, one of the major keys to chatbot success is knowing that chatbots are made to complement human agents, not replace them. Currently, the range of tasks that human agents can perform is enormous. Not only are there many different kinds of jobs to do, they also vary a lot in terms of complexity and how much they follow standard protocol.
So if your agents are handling complex cases often, you can ensure that your bot is still helping out by gathering information about the customer before starting the conversation.
The key to a successful chatbot deployment
Chatbot development is not all smooth sailing! Many ambitious deployments have failed to catch on. It’s a fresh and cool new technology, but it remains important to stay level-headed. This is why I’ve compiled a short list of important things to think about before or during chatbot development.
- Define a personality for the bot that is inline with brand perception goals. Think of it as an employee that you’d have to raise from birth. How would you like them to act when interacting with customers? Don’t hesitate to make them free spirited and fun.
- Once again remind yourself that chatbots are here to complement humans, not replace them!
- Make sure that the chatbot is dynamic and personalized. Address people with their name’s if they’ve provided them before. Use emojis to lighten up the mood of the conversation, they add a lot of emotion as well.
- Make sure that the user realizes they’re conversing with a bot.
- Make sure current customers know about the bot. Provide marketing emails notifying them about the new way of contacting your company.
- Make the deployment prominent on your website and place call to actions everywhere.
- Keep it simple. Try to do one thing very well before expanding the chatbot functionality.
Interested in getting your own chatbot?
As you must know by now, chatbots are wonderful! If you’re interested to get one for your company, feel free to contact us at Cloud Innovation. We would be more than happy to get you or your company started with Salesforce Einstein Bots.
Interested in learning more about Einstein Bots?
Salesforce Trailhead has some awesome trails that will tell you all about Einstein Bots and how to set one up from scratch! I’ve compiled a couple of interesting ones into a trailmix for you to follow.
Check it out → Einstein Bots 101