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Best customer service chatbots overview

Like many other things nowadays, digital interactions are becoming more digitalized through customer service chatbots. Chatbots are easy, useful, and help enhance the customer service experience. Why should you consider this technology for your business? What are its benefits?


In this article, we’ll explore the state of chatbots today, overview this technology in different industries and then give you some examples of our favorite customer support chatbots.


What is a chatbot?


A chatbot is a program that simulates real-life conversation over the Internet or voice call. Through a chatbot, a human has a conversation with a digital device, as if with another human. Chatbots may be simple few-button programs or complex self-learning applications.


At first, chatbots were developed as an experimental device to better understand human psychology. The very first known bot, ELIZA, released in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum, used responses created by a psychotherapist in order to generate an engaging conversation. It was highly successful and, as a result, set both an interest and a precedent for developing other bots in the future.


New research chatbots were developed in the 70s and 80s. Their commercial use has spread in the 90s, with wider availability of home computers and, of course, the popularization of the Internet.


Later, in the early 00s, there were chatbots for social media, data collection, personal assistants. Today, chatbots are a routine part of our digital interactions with brands and companies. Digital bots are used for various purposes, with the most widespread being chatbots for user support.


Chatbot for support is trained to either recognize certain keywords or whole standardized sentences. It uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), as well as natural language understanding (NLU) to mimic human writing and speech.


Chatbots assist customer service in filling in routine tasks, such as answering FAQs or pulling information from the knowledge base. It’s hard to imagine a large or mid-size company without an intercom chatbot. Smaller companies or startups utilize them as a single one-time cost for all customer support needs.


Why should you consider chatbot for your customer service?


Chatbots are an interesting option for companies to explore as a part of their customer-centered strategy. With a well-suited support chatbot, businesses save time, money, and improve the overall quality of their customer service.


The interest is driving industry growth. Straits Research projects a 3.62 Billion increase in the chatbot market by 2030. Retail, telecom, healthcare, and banking are among the leaders implementing this technology in their customer service.


Users love it too! HubSpot reports that 40% of consumers don’t mind if a chatbot answers their questions, as long as they get the service they need. Though, many prefer for the bots to have an appealing personality too.


Chatbots are a good option for both large, medium, and small size businesses. Surely, the exact implementation for each business case will differ. When developing a bot, a team should take into account variables, such as size, industry, medium. The technology allows for flexibility and adaptation to customer expectations, as well as to business requirements.


Pros and cons of implementing chatbot


Chatbots offer quite a few advantages over traditional mediums of customer-business communication. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of implementing chatbots.

Offer consistent support 24/7


Sometimes, you won’t have a customer service agent in place, while the questions and cases keep coming. Chatbot for customer service helps meet customers needs 24/7. This enforces consistent support across channels, moreover, giving an ability to choose whichever option is the most suitable for customers.


Boost team productivity


Chatbots help the work of support agents. By answering simpler inquiries, they let a team focus on complex cases, as a result minimizing routine copy-paste answers.


Faster customer service


Automating part of the replies also allows faster service for the clients, greatly reducing the first response time and resolution time, besides increasing customer satisfaction.


Save costs


According to The Manufacturer calculations, businesses can save from 30000 USD by implementing a chatbot. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Indeed, having a chatbot handle even a part of support queries would lead to reduced support spending.


Generate leads


Last by not least, many businesses use specific chatbots to generate great leads. Their day-long availability makes sure a business never misses a potential client and provides engaging interaction to make them even more excited about the service.

We are clearly intrigued about all the chatbot potential! Although, to be fair in our judgment, we’ll provide some common drawbacks of this technology too.


Limited responses


Often, chatbots can offer only a small set of responses. Inquiries that are multipart or need decisions must be escalated.


Customer frustration


Since the software analyzes text through keywords or algorithms, the likelihood of misunderstanding is still high, especially in the early stages of its operation. Sometimes, bots completely misinterpret users, which may lead to unsatisfactory experiences.


Lack of personalization


Today, customers expect personalization in all business interactions. Most of the time, however, bots can’t mention specific inquiry details or predict further questions. Some developers get really creative with their bots, and it requires some clever writing and AI-powered learning for a chatbot to seem as if it’s catering to a specific response.


What is the solution? With both in mind, many companies today have opted in for a fusion model, where a customer service bot answers the easier FAQ questions, while the human support agent takes from the point where the bot is no longer helpful.


3 examples of awesome chatbot services


Different bots are used based on the business type, common support channels, or customer preferences. The three most common chatbot services are live chat, voice bots, and hybrid bots. Let’s examine them a bit closer.


Menu-based bots


Menu bots are the simplest type among these chatbots. They are decision tree systems or menus, with predefined paths. The user chooses one of the options, which clarifies their issue more and more until it reaches a ready-made solution. Think of a bot when calling a telecom service, when an automated voice asks you a few questions, narrowing down your inquiry.

Menu-based bots are inexpensive and fairly quick to design. Their clear drawback is among those we discussed previously, which is a lack of personalization. In case the issue becomes more complex than something a company may predict in advance, they are no longer beneficial.


AI chatbots


AI chatbot or live chat chatbot is capable of intelligent conversation with a customer. It uses Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to incorporate both meaning (intent, language, and sentiment) and keywords. As a result, artificial intelligence improves the quality of responses and simulates the natural flow of the conversation.

Such bots require lots of work, training, and data to work well. AI chatbot for customer service is much harder and costly to implement, however, they do provide a virtual assistant level of guidance, and can be extremely pleasant for customers to interact with.


Hybrid bots


Sometimes, businesses need a combination of the services above. As a result, hybrid bots are introduced to the market. When a rule-based menu can’t handle the query, a more intelligent chatbot is connected, exploring complex answers and solutions.


Real-life chatbot examples

Let’s see how these types of bots are implemented in the real-life environment, and what impact and unique styles they add to business interactions with their customers. We’ve found a few interesting cases for you:


Edwardian Hotel


Edward is a unique chatbot for customer support, which is also somewhat of a personal self-service concierge. Developed for Edwardian Hotel, this bot is a smart AI-powered tool. It answers complex questions, sends complaints, and even gives recommendations and information from nearby restaurants or bars. Its conversational language helps hotel guests feel as if they indeed are talking to a real human, while also getting a high level of personalization.


Novo Nordisk


Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk has an interesting customer service chatbot for their diabetes customers. Sophia (bot’s name) answers general questions about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for people living with the disease. Except for educational materials, it also advises about the user’s medication, with a recommendation to always contact doctors for more details.

Sophia became quite a successful project with tens of thousands of users in just half a year. Its success proves the need for such bots in the health industry too.


HAZEL


The team management tool is a seemingly unlikely business for customer service bots. However, HAZEL proves the skeptics wrong. Their website chatbot provides instant insights about the team workings, recommends growth plans, and gives performance feedback. This is a great chatbot for IT with a distinct industry focus.


Bank of America


Erica is a Bank of America chatbot, that provides account information, notifications, and recommendations. What’s special about it, is its financial advice. Erica’s most recent features assist clients in making better financial decisions through proactive insights and financial advice. Erica is one of the most used financial bots in the US with more than 6 million users to date.

These are just a few in a great creative pool of bots out there. There are so many creative and inspiring ideas to explore. If you’re interested in adding a chatbot to your customer service too, there are quite a few services that can help. In the next chapter, we’ll explore the top services that provide the best chatbots for customer service.


10 most popular customer service chatbots overview


Zendesk


One of the most famous bots on the market, Zendesk’s Answer Bot, uses NLP to react to conversation. It’s a smart and affordable tool with real-time data tracking. The bot seamlessly integrates a live agent if necessary. Additionally, it can provide personalized suggestions to live agents with tips on how to handle a certain ticket.

This is a good option for companies that already have a support team, and need to lessen their workload or enhance daily support routines.

Price: from 19$/month.


Drift


Drift is a chatbot, best suited for lead generation. Its intel provides a unique experience through personalized interactions based on the lead’s company profile. The software takes into account data about company size, industry, and position. Questions and suggestions help potential clients get the most relevant information to their case, and do so fast. Drift’s bot is also known for its simple editing and a wide range of automation tools to choose from.

Price: Free.


Pypestream


Pypestream is a company providing AI and natural language processing support chatbot for the automotive industry, healthcare, and financial businesses. Their services are particularly useful for these industries due to the data encryption bot feature. Besides being very secure, the Pypestream bot enables in-chat payments and lots of specific interaction analytics.

Pypestream is also one of those services, that makes a great chatbot for IT support.

Price: Available on demand.


Netomi


Netomi’s automated customer service can be created to fit the text, voice, or live chat formats. Bot’s design helps companies navigate their knowledge bases and deliver the best information to their consumers. Moreover, the software provides innate intent classifications, allowing to diversify answers to the same questions.

Netomi has native integrations to Zendesk Chat, Salesforce Chat, and other top customer service software.

Price: Available on demand.


Bold360


A bot tool from Bold360 is a cloud-based solution for bot and support agent integration. They position themselves as a customer engagement tool, allowing for omnichannel customer service chatbots with powerful automation. Developers may customize bots through Bold360’s APIs and SDKs.

Another thing that’s unique about their service is well-made visitor monitoring and Twitter integration. Also, it’s known to be very user-friendly.

Price: Available on demand.


Octane AI


Octane AI would be interesting for e-commerce businesses. Their service is developed with Shopify in mind, catering specifically to its users. Octane AI bot makes the store more interactive, and offers quizzes, email gathering, and sales funnels, besides a chatbot that does all the routine tasks for the sellers.

Price: from 50$/month.


DialogFlow


DialogFlow is a Google-built bot framework. The framework lets developers design conversational interfaces with both text and audio inputs. DialogFlow is one of the most powerful tools on the market in terms of Machine Learning capabilities. Moreover, it offers great scalability options and integrations with almost every platform out there. Naturally, all its features come with a need for strong programming skills.

Price: Depends on framework use.


Xenioo


As compared to the previous example, Xenioo is a no-code omnichannel bot builder. It’s suitable for businesses that require quicker solutions but also offers custom-built bots too. While having an intuitive design, it can produce a highly customizable chatbot for support. The service is suitable for all types of companies. Though, it often lacks some more advanced analytics features.

Price: Free.


Kommunicate


Kommunicate is another bot builder that requires no coding skills. It features email support, multi-platform integration, as well as a simpler style of menu bot with buttons. More than that, Kommunicate’s design makes it easy to apply in lead-generation flow too. The company’s documentation lacks some polish, however, its team is ready to answer customer questions at any time.

Price: from 40$/month.


Engati


With Engati’s services, you can build a bot once and publish it across 15 different channels. Engati got lots of interest as a startup due to their use of a proprietary machine learning engine in chatbots. For easier creation, they have bot templates, which allow clients to build bots in a very short time. Engati offers a wide range of features, including campaign management, e-commerce tools, and analytics features.

Price: Available on demand.


To conclude


Finding the right chatbot for customer service is an easier task than you might think! There are lots of market options to explore, from cheaper ready-made solutions to fully personalized software with automated data collection or integrations with other services.

What to make of a chatbot is a unique challenge, solved by a few steps:

  • Understanding your customers and their ways of communication

  • Defining your business needs

  • Cross-examining competitors and industry leaders’ solutions

There are three different types of bots to choose from: menu-based, AI, and hybrid. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks to consider. Businesses should see bot implementation as a software development process, with all its steps and nuance.


When created well, customer support chatbots bring great benefits to a business. From cost reduction to higher customer satisfaction, all of which bring long-term benefits for company development.

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