The Chatbot Cheatsheet: 7 Tips for Building a Chatbot Program

Chatbot Cheatsheet: 7 Tips for Building a Chatbot Program TW

So, you think you’re ready to invest in conversational automation, but you want to avoid the hype and nonsense? Great, then we are here to help! Keep these seven points top-of-mind as you build out your chatbot program, and you’re sure to see value in no time.

1. Understand Your Metrics

“Containment rate” (the percentage of total conversations fully handled by the bot), or its alternative name, “deflection rate”, is a key metric to track when trying to figure out how well your bot is performing. Customer satisfaction is also important. Keep in mind how the introduction of a digital assistant could alter existing performance indicators. For example, will average handle time increase now that agents are only handling more complex inquiries? Ultimately, a well-defined bot program will be able to communicate increased agent efficiency and customer satisfaction, which equals a reduction in the cost of care.

2. Start With Hello

Your first bot does not need to be elaborate. In fact, we recommend against it. When you are first getting started, pick one or two simple, but useful, use cases to automate. Then, you can learn and iterate as you discover how your customers prefer to interact with a chatbot. No one gets it totally right out of the gate, so avoid wasting time by trying to build something “perfect”.

3. Leverage the Agent

We have seen countless chatbot programs fail to engage the existing front-line customer service team when designing an automated conversational experience. It’s great to learn from data and prevailing user experience research, but your agents are the ones who know how your customers are interacting with the bot. Treat the bot like another agent: when you need performance feedback, use its peers.

4. Templates, Rules, and Machine Learning

Not all chatbots are “conversational AI”, because not all use cases require machine learning. Very effective bots can leverage rules and simple conditional logic, it all depends on the use case. Similarly, natural language processing is great when you have a bot with many different skills and a large corpus of knowledge — why make your customers trudge through structured flows when all they should do is ask the question directly? In both cases, we recommend leveraging buttons, quick replies, and other conversational templates that help the user move through the conversation quickly and efficiently.

5. Know When to Handover

A chatbot is not a replacement for a human agent. Often you need to give the user a way to bail out of tough conversations and difficult questions, and that’s alright. Chatbots are excellent at fully resolving low level queries. However, just because an issue is complicated does not mean a chatbot cannot be helpful. Consider how you can use the bot for information gathering and light triage before routing to the right agent. In these cases, the chatbot helps reduce handle time and expedites the customer’s support request.

6. Automation Happens Elsewhere, Too

Chatbots get a lot of attention when it comes to automation. Often it’s the mental model in our heads for intelligent customer service. Consider other ways you can streamline the customer support experience with a bot, and leverage additional intelligent services: automatic tagging, routing, and prioritization for the agent, just to name a few.

7. Be Customer-Centric

At the end of the day, the success of your chatbot comes down to how well it fits into the support journey and cadence strategy you have outlined for your customers. Consider different segments of customers that might prefer automation to that “direct human” connection. Perhaps automation can be more helpful at the end of an interaction than at the beginning. Take a good look at your customers, and we’ll help you find out the right size that fits.

Want to learn how to get started with intelligent chatbots? Find out more here.
 

The Undeniable Power of Chatbots

The Undeniable Power of Chatbots TW

Since the dawn of the computer age, engineers and designers have had to consider how humans can, and should, interact with new technology. They designed and implemented interfaces that altered our mental models for exchanging information; we had to learn novel symbols, workflows, and behaviors in order to interact with these new platforms. Basically, we conformed to the computer, not the other way around. Yet over the last few years, a new service has emerged that represents a departure from this norm: the chatbot, a digital experience that replicates and automates the medium of human conversation.

Three Benefits of Automated Conversation

Conversation is the new interface. We now spend more time messaging and chatting than on social networking applications. Smart businesses have capitalized on this behavioral shift by supporting chat, messaging, and text channels for marketing, sales, and customer service. However, it’s difficult to scale a one-to-one communication operation. This is where chatbots come into the picture.

As automated chat interactions, chatbots can essentially exist wherever human-to-human dialogue is the best way to exchange information and accomplish an assignment. The best way to experience the benefits of this kind of automation is to focus on the conversations that are already in play with your customers. Oftentimes, this starts with customer service. Here is where you’ll see an immediate impact:

  1. Faster Response Times: Chat and messaging work best when someone can immediately respond, not when customers are waiting in a queue because agents are tied up. With a chatbot, each message is seen and responded to, and your most common questions are quickly addressed. Further, by allowing chatbots to handle initial information gathering, agents are able to join and resolve conversations faster if escalation is needed.
  2. Better Agent Utilization: No one wants to answer the same question over and over again. Chatbots remove basic, low-level questions from the workload. By reducing the number of messages your agents receive, you will increase the efficiency of your support operations and be able to focus on the more complicated questions and tasks.
  3. Data on What Customers Need: Chatbots automatically collect and analyze your customers’ questions and issues. Instead of manually reviewing conversations or asking agents for anecdotal insights, you can review organized and aggregated intent data.

Getting Started With Chatbots

If you think you’re ready to automate and streamline the interactions you’re already having with customers, I recommend starting with these skills to experience the core benefits:

  1. Five to Ten One-Touch FAQ Answers: Focus on supporting your most common questions that can be addressed with one response. You can direct customers to an FAQ article, or deliver a conversational answer directly.
    One Common Workflow: Similar to the above, there are certainly interactions that require authentication or simple lookups from another data source; these aren’t hard to tackle, just usually require manual attention. Verify, authenticate, and pull in data to automate simple workflows. If you’re an e-commerce business, “Where is My Order” or “Return Status” are great, universal examples.

  2. Easy Agent Takeover with Routing: Once a chatbot cannot answer a question or resolve an issue, make the handover process to human support quick and painless. Better yet, ask a few questions just prior to the handover to give agents context for the conversation and route to specialized teams.
  3. Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing and machine learning — the “AI” of conversational AI — make it possible for your bot to understand and respond to customer intent, not specific keywords. This allows the bot to keep up with the way each customer thinks, communicates, and switches topics, ultimately leading to higher understanding and better resolution rates across all conversations.

Want to learn more about how chatbots can transform your customer experience? Check out how Kustomer powers intelligent self-service here.
 

Kustomer Tech Recap: Enhancements to Queues and Routing, Workflows, and More

Our engineering and product teams have been busy launching new features, improving integrations, and making your top requests a reality. Here are the highlights of what we’ve added to Kustomer over the past few weeks:

Platform
  • Restylized the Queues and Routing user toolbar to better fit the platform.
  • Ensured that when Queues and Routing is active, unassigned snoozed conversations will not be routed until the snoozed status has elapsed.
  • Added ability for workflows to use SLA breaches as triggers, providing immediate and automated escalation.
  • Added ability to deactivate and reactivate Shortcuts.
  • Enhanced business rules capabilities to recognize a search that contains parts of an organization’s email domain.
  • Updated the look and feel of our Login page.
  • Added ability to adjust the relative heights of the agent’s Inbox and Recently Viewed Items in the left-hand side panel.
  • Ensured proper sync of conversation count between individual customer and company timelines.
  • Improved support for default language variants (e.g., US English and UK English or Standard French and Canadian French).
  • Added ability to quickly clear date fields on the insights panel by X’ing them out.
  • Created new type-to-filter ability when selecting the default language in Conversation settings.
  • Improved agent icon display in search results.
  • Made it easier for users to merge customer records by surfacing suggestions based on existing customer information.
Channels
  • Improved support of chat for Internet Explorer 11
  • Streamlined chat assistant prompts to render and display as part of the regular flow of messages within the Conversation view.

 

Doug Jarvis is the Director of Product Marketing at Kustomer.

Kustomer + Amazon: See You at Enterprise Connect!

Last quarter we announced that our integration with Amazon Connect was going to revolutionize your contact center. Why? The powerful voice integration and personalized IVR trees let agents massively increase their efficiency, streamline service, and stay in a single screen while answering calls on Kustomer’s single timeline view.

Now we’re excited to say that several of our friends, including Ring and Stella & Dot, are already using the integration to deliver next-level, omnichannel support experiences within the Kustomer platform. That’s why our partners at Amazon Web Services have invited Kustomer VP of Product Peter Johnson to present about the integration during Enterprise Connect in Orlando.

Don’t take our word (and AWS’s) that the integration is amazing, though. Take it from our happy customers and friends —

Jon Irwin, COO of Ring, explains, “Moving forward with Kustomer’s Amazon Connect integration was one of the best decisions we have made for our community support team as well as our end customers, or ‘neighbors’. We’re excited to be using Kustomer’s robust platform, which is not only reliable, but increases service efficiency, giving us an edge in providing unparalleled neighbor experience.”

Still not convinced? Here are three ways this 1-click integration will help you build your own customer friendships:

  • Personalized IVR trees: Your IVRs can be personalized based on “data dips” into all the information you have stored in Kustomer, creating a tailored experience for every customer who calls.
  • Faster service with multi-channel routing and queueing: Amazon Connect fully syncs with Kustomer’s routing engine, so it’s easier than ever to manage your team’s workload across channels. In-depth dashboards give you all the data you need on wait and call times, queues and workforce so you can optimize your organization for peak effectiveness.
  • Connect customers and agents across channels in a single platform: When a new call is received or initiated, the Customer Timeline pops up with the entire customer history of interactions and conversations across channels — no additional customer wait time because of tabs to click through or new tickets to open.

Come meet us at Enterprise Connect; we’re presenting at Amazon booth #2106 on Tuesday 3/19 from 5:40-6:00 PM EST!

Platform Improvements, Channel Updates, Integrations, and more

Product Update

Our engineering and product teams have been busy launching new features, adding new integrations, and making your top requests a reality. Here are the highlights of what we’ve added in this past quarter, in case you missed any.

Queues and Routing

Kustomer is happy to announce our brand new, enterprise-grade queueing and routing feature. Queues are integral to managing high-volume contact centers, and for good reasons. Queues enable contact centers to monitor their inbound traffic in real-time and optimize the wait time in the queue. Kustomer has adopted this model for the omnichannel world. Now organizations can create queues according to their business priorities across channels, assign queues to teams, and have full visibility into the real-time status of the queues and agents’ capacity. Read more in our blog post.

Platform Improvements

Inbound Messages Heatmap

Check out our new report that will help you better understand the volume of inbound messages that your teams are handling, and which time of the week has the highest volume. You can also filter the report by specific Teams and Channels to further segment inbound messages.

Team Mentions

You can now mention entire teams in a note! Mentioning a team is just as easy as mentioning a user- simply type the @ sign and type a team’s name.

Sending a team mention in a note will notify all members of that team that they have been mentioned. Clicking the notification will link them back the conversation in which they were mentioned.

SAML 2.0 Integration

For many organizations, the usage of a SAML provider is key to providing easy access to all necessary systems for their employees. We’re happy to announce that you can now add Kustomer to that list of systems which can be accessed by your SAML provider.

For customers in our Ultimate Tier, you’ll be able to create an App within your SAML provider and tie it to your Kustomer account. Once set up a “Sign in with SAML” option will appear on the login screen for your users.

Channel Updates

Knowledge Base Image Upload

We’ve added the ability to upload images directly to articles within your Knowledge Base. Images can be hosted on Kustomer media library or on an external URL. When uploading images, you can either browse your computer or easily drag and drop right into the upload area.

That’s it for product updates this quarter, follow @Kustomer on social media for to-the-minute updates of our new features and integrations!

Kustomer Queues Make Routing Painless for Contact Centers

Kustomer is happy to announce our brand new, enterprise-grade queueing and routing feature. Queues are essential to managing high-volume contact centers, and for good reason. Queues enable contact centers to monitor their inbound traffic in real-time and optimize customer wait times. Kustomer has adopted this model for the omnichannel world. Now organizations can create queues according to their business priorities across channels, assign queues to teams, and have full visibility into the real-time status of queues and agents.

Unique benefits to using Kustomer Queues are:

  • Queues work in real-time so managers can identify peaks in traffic and reassign agents accordingly.
  • Queues are set up so that every conversation can be in a single queue, so conversations are viewed and handled by a single agent.
  • Wait time, handle time, and wrap time are well-defined so are easier to track and optimize through reports and live dashboards.
  • Agents’ status is connected to the Kustomer Router, thus agents will not get assigned with new conversations when unavailable or during a call.

Queues that work for you

Queues can be defined in any way that makes sense for your business. You can create queues as simple as channel queues (like chat or email) or create more sophisticated queues like “Customers with Lifetime Value of more than $10K”, or for “Conversations with a ‘Return’ tag”. Each queue is assigned to a team, so the Kustomer Router will route new conversations to an available agent with that team. As conversations can only exist in one queue, view collisions between agents are eliminated and productivity increases.

Availability-based Routing and Reassigning

When agents start their shift they switch their status to Available to start getting conversations from the queues assigned to their team. If agents go on a break or finish a shift, they can toggle the status to the relevant unavailable status (e.g., Lunch, Break, or anything else). That will indicate the Kustomer Router to automatically stop sending new conversations to these agents.

The agent status is clearly indicated in the platform, so fellow agents can reassign conversations and managers can monitor and reassign agents, based on their availability. This is especially useful when managing remote teams.

 

Multichannel Routing for the Omnichannel Contact Center

As an omnichannel platform, Kustomer Router includes a multichannel routing capability ensuring that when an agent is on a call, the router automatically stops assigning new conversations to this agent (either voice, email or chat), and resume once wrap-up is done. This capability is available, for example, via the Amazon Connect integration.

Real-time Contact Center Insights

Live dashboards provide managers with real-time information on the status of different aspects of the contact center. This is especially useful when managing remote teams. Such aspects include:

  • Agent status – How many agents are available, what agents are working on (overall and down to the conversation), and what their workload is.
  • Queues – How many conversations are waiting in different queues, and are some queues more busy than others.
  • Customer experience – The average wait time for customers on different queues and channels, and the average handle time once they interact with an agent.

Dashboards are updated as frequently as every 15 seconds, managers can even display them on a big screen in the office.

For more information about Queues and Routing and how to implement them in your own organization, check out this article or request a demo below.

 

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