Leveling up the customer service experience with Facebook chatbots

Facebook has just made it even easier for its 900 million consumer and business users to connect with each other. Currently, consumers rely on Facebook Pages to learn updates and get in touch with their favorite brands, an opportunity that Facebook saw to introduce an easier way for both sides to interact. And so far, businesses have flocked to try out this latest offering.

The latest from Facebook comes in the form of bots, confirming TechCrunch’s scoop earlier this year that Facebook’s Messenger team has indeed been working to create programs of automated messages. Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook Messenger’s head of product, discussed during one of his interviews that the current state of communication between businesses and consumers online are seemingly highly robotic and the chatbots role is to improve that connection. Before, when chatting with a bot, you would simply be asked basic information whereas now you get more customized messages to help address your need.

Taking the Leap

Among the many businesses that have taken a shot at using Messenger’s latest platform is Dutch airline KLM who soon plans to allow customers to obtain their boarding pass directly through the app. Uber, on the other hand, has already gotten an early start with the service, now allowing customers to order rides via the app, adding greater convenience to its service offering.

An estimated 5,000 Shopify merchants are also distributing order confirmation and shipping alerts using Messenger’s platform. This only goes to show how e-commerce companies are eager to further engage Facebook’s almost one billion users.

What chatbots can do to level up the customer service experience

Using the platform’s new Send/Receive API, chatbots are able to send structured messages that include images, links and even call-to-action buttons. This means people can now perform tasks like make restaurant reservations, purchase tickets and even send flowers to loved ones all on one platform via means of messaging. There will be no payments allowed as of now though for fear of possible hacks and security breaches.

Businesses would also be able to send out sponsored messages ads to people who have started a conversation with their bot. Advertisers have an option of promoting the ‘click to message’ feature on Facebook’s newsfeed to attract target consumers to engage in a conversation with their bot.

Consumers need not worry about the chatbots getting too spammy as just like with ordinary chats with friends, there is also an option to silence notifications from the bot.

Chatbot Analytics on the Way

Alongside the chat feature, Facebook also introduced analytics to see how customers actually respond and engage with these chatbots. Given that the service is fairly new, such insights will help Facebook to continually improve its service and give the best online-customer service experience.

Chatbot analytics will also help programmers see the messages that most people find engaging or which call to action or messaging schedules come across as unappealing. This way, it’s win-win for both consumers and businesses.

The introduction of chatbots has led to many financial experts see Facebook potentially doubling up its revenues in a few years, if it can successfully bridge customers and advertisers using this app. This could lead to Facebook domineering the online market world and changing the way that many businesses manage their customers.

Walk In Your Customers’ Shoes To Create A Great User Experience

To ensure great user experience, build your website, product or service from the perspective of your customers. Anticipate all their needs from the start to the end of their interaction with your business and you will be able to reap results.

Think like your customer to build a great user experience

What constitutes a great user experience?

In the design field, user experience is often thought of as defining and managing an individual’s experience of a product, service or a website. This means that designers create products, websites or services based on how they believe their customers would use it. A perspective like this is simply flawed because it takes customers out of the picture, who are the ones that actually decide whether a product is great or not. The value of a product, service or website is often dependent on the customers’ perception because they are the ones who choose whether one brand is worth purchasing over another. Simply put, creating a great user experience is putting your customer in the centre of the design process.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is one company that makes the experience of its customers a priority; no wonder why it is one of the top luxury hotels worldwide. In one example, a family was vacationing at the Ritz hotel in Bali when they faced a problem: the specialised eggs and milk they brought for their son with food allergies had gone bad. Staff at the Ritz-Carlton tried to find in vain these products in town but found none. The executive chef of the hotel remembered that a store in Singapore sells them; so he called his mother-in-law and asked her to purchase them. He then flew her to Bali to deliver the products to the family. Such effort of the hotel helped ensure that the family had a wonderful time at the Ritz-Carlton and enjoyed their vacation. It also shows the great lengths the hotel would go to provide its guests a hassle-free stay.

With the availability of the Internet and social media, feel-good stories like this can get around fast, and so does customer complaints. A negative comment or a feedback can quickly put your business in a bad light, and discourage other people from purchasing your product or your services. If you don’t rectify the issue immediately, the public can easily think that you do not care about your customers, which can hurt your business. Since many enterprises would like to avoid this, some of them are replacing the term “user experience” with “customer experience” to cultivate a customer-centric mindset in their day-to-day operations.

In fact, businesses need to enhance their focus on customers nowadays as technological developments intensify competition. For instance, ride-sharing app Uber has gotten the cab industry up in arms as it provides people an easier way to get a ride by booking in advance, increasingly taking customers away from traditional cabbies. Payment is done via credit card, eliminating the need to tip. If cabbies or other businesses want staying power, they need to enhance customers’ experience to secure their loyalty.

Simply put, businesses need to give more importance to providing a great “customer experience” if they want to remain competitive. Make sure that all points of interaction that a customer has with your website, product or service address their needs. You wouldn’t want to end up seeing a customer complaint go viral because a certain issue wasn’t addressed properly. United Airlines lost US$ 180 million in 2009 after a customer made a music video on how baggage handlers broke his custom-made guitar, and when the airline was not responding to his calls about the issue. For any business owner, a massive loss such as this should be avoided at all costs.

Great user experience can guide your business toward growth

Providing a great user experience to your customers will yield returns for your business. Some of these are:

  1. Greater customer satisfaction, which enhances customer retention – As mentioned earlier, your customer gets to decide the value for your product or service, not you. A great user experience can win the loyalty of your customer, and ensure repeat business for your company.
  2. Increased productivity – A seamless transaction on your website, or a product that allows your customers to easily accomplish tasks can increase sales or complement your marketing efforts when you receive great feedback. Always consider the feedback of your customers because these can show you room for improvement and help you achieve efficiency in your business.
  3. Better lead generation – Customers that are satisfied with their experience on your website, product or services can help promote your business through word-of-mouth. They can tell others how your business provided convenience or efficiency for them, and point them to you. As a result, your customer base expands, which generates additional sales.
  4. Differentiates you from competitors – A great user experience will help you win the loyalty of your customers and set your business apart. As a result, your customers will always prefer your brand over others and even encourage their family, friends and other acquaintances to try your products or services. This can increase your market share against your competitors because your customers are seen as credible source of information.
  5. Less costs on staff training, support – When your website is easy to navigate, or when the service you offer is very simple, your employees will easily learn their role in the company and need fewer hours for training. This allows you to save time and expenses related to training. When customers quickly grasp how to use your product or your service, you can also avoid the expense of providing support for basic issues, and instead allocate resources for complex problems.

Simply put, providing a great user experience is a win-win for your company. It allows you to gain more customers, while helping you save on costs to achieve efficiency. Whenever you are planning to release a new product, service or a feature, try to get into the mind of your customers first to address their needs in order to provide them an experience they will never forget.