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5 Reasons why Customer Service Chatbots are the Need of the Hour

3 minutes, 59 seconds read

The rapidly advancing world suddenly came to a halt with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. If anything positive that has come out of this crisis is that it has made people more comfortable with technology. Even people from non-tech-savvy older generations are readily adopting technological advancements. Especially the customer service verticals (helpdesk and support portals) if businesses are seeking automation the most. 

Chatbots have come a long way since they were first introduced. In 2016, Facebook allowed chatbots into its Messenger platform to let businesses deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content, and interactive experiences through chatbots. From answering simple queries to scheduling appointments, chatbots have evolved into AI-driven Virtual Assistants. Given the variety of purposes they solve, chatbots are here to stay. The chatbot market is projected to reach $1.25 billion by 2025

Let’s look at some of the most pressing points which make Customer Service Chatbots so relevant in the current period.

1. The Need to Save Time, Money and Resources

The prolonged lock-downs have left a deep impact on the business cash-flows. To manage the business with limited resources and constraints on budget, this is the right time to integrate chatbots which can take up routine tasks and save bandwidth of human resources for more complex ones. These days, chatbots are available at affordable prices and even on monthly subscription models.

2. Elevate Digital Customer Experience

During the initial stage of the COVID outbreak, people struggled to get essentials. The volume of customer grievances and queries were very high. Businesses struggled to address them. AI-driven chatbots in such situations prove to be a great asset in acknowledging the problems and providing relevant solutions. 

Voice-enabled customer service chatbots give a human-like experience to customers which helps add that personal touch in a digital environment. Unlike command-based chatbots, AI-based or Machine Learning chatbots can answer ambiguous questions. Based on the responses, chatbots are learning and can provide better answers over time. NLP chatbots will take the digital CX to another level which is a crucial differentiator for businesses in these times.

3. Build Customer Engagement and Brand Loyalty

One of the biggest pain-points of the lock-downs and social distancing is keeping the existing customers and clients engaged and building trust amongst them. Retaining brand loyalty has been challenging since customers during these times will watch out for businesses that provide the best services. Big names with a huge customer base may fail if they continue with legacy systems and traditional models even in these crucial times. 

To keep the business running, organizations will have to engage with customers. Bots can derive data through it’s AI capabilities which can be used to re-engage with customers. Especially in the e-commerce sector, bots can remind customers of the unbought items from their wish-list, suggest items to pair with the selected ones, take feedback, and so on. 

Customers remember brands that provide good services during difficult times. 

4. Dealing with the Issues of Modern Workforce

Due to lockdown, organizations faced a pressing challenge to ensure the smooth functioning of business with a remote workforce. A part of this challenge was also to ensure healthy and transparent communication with the internal workforce i.e. employees.

Especially the larger organizations and MNCs faced communication challenges with their employees across the globe. For instance, the HR department might not be able to reach all its employees. This calls for a need for chatbots that can address some of the basic queries. As Gartner predicts — by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact with conversational platforms daily. The current pandemic is just fueling the adoption of helpdesk automation. 

5. Lead Generation

The business development and sales departments have a difficult road ahead. Given the economic slowdown, how to generate leads? Considering the current situation, many businesses are going digital as sales representatives cannot meet clients in-person. 

In the B2C space, cold calling and email marketing will soon become redundant. The situation requires an interaction with people through which leads can be found. Bots can provide data on the back-end while interacting with prospects and help businesses reach out to them. Thus, enabling more sales conversions. 

[Also read: Conversational Chatbots for SMEs to continue business from home]

What Does the Future Look Like for Customer Service Chatbots?

Modern customers include Millennials and Gen Z who represent 2 billion (27%) and 1.8 billion (24%) of the population respectively. They have a high affinity for self-service portals and look out for their query resolution instantly. Chatbots with integrated workflows can drive historical consumer data and accordingly suggest resolution. 

Companies like Uber and Amazon are already deploying self-service customer support, which not only releases the load from call-centers but also satisfies the growing preference for convenience. According to a recent Salesforce survey, 60% of businesses are ready to adopt self-service portals and chatbots are a crucial part of facilitating this. 


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[Interview] Mr. Alex Jimenez | Digital Customer Experience in Covid-19 Times

7 minutes read

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon an unprecedented change in our daily lives and routines. Consumer behavior is changing constantly. Lockdowns and social distancing have led to huge losses for businesses across industries. The world is heading towards an economic slowdown. Under these circumstances, organizations are facing many challenges to keep their businesses going. Insurers too are facing similar issues. Some insurance lines such as motor, travel, home have suffered a business loss due to low demand.

To understand the impact of this crisis, especially in the USA, we interviewed Mr. Alex Jiminez, Strategy Officer at Extractable from California, and learned more about creating better digital customer experiences in these testing times. 

Extractable is a strategic consulting, design, and data analytics agency focused on the future of financial services. His other recent experience includes leading technology strategic planning for the office of the CIO, at Zions Bancorporation, and managing Digital Banking and Payments Strategy and Innovation at Rockland Trust. Alex has been named to several industry influencer lists in the areas of FinTech, RegTech, Blockchain, InsurTech, Innovation, and Digital Marketing. He has been featured in the Irish Tech News and the Independent Community Bankers of America’s (ICBA) Independent Banker.

Connect with Mr. Alex Jimenez – LinkedIn

The excerpt from the interview:

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the financial services industry

What is the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the financial services industry, and how is the industry responding to the ongoing crisis in the US?

In the wake of the current crisis, organizations are more focused on keeping the operation going, trying to set-up work stations for remote working, dealing with customers and working with them over digital platforms. But very few are focusing on the future which is preparing for the after-effects of this pandemic on the economy. 

In-person communication is still an important mode of interaction with customers in the US banking sector. But now the issue is how to provide good services to clients? Some of our customers are going to experience digital models for the first time. 

Organizations that have well-defined Digital Strategies and Customer-First approach will be able to provide good support to their customers. Organizations that are late into this space are more likely to face problems in the future.

[Related: The Impact of Covid-19 on the Global Economy and Insurance]

Changing customer preferences

How can companies reach out to their customers in this New Normal world?

We have already started to move towards a digital-centric world which is just going to accelerate. We will see businesses who have earlier ignored their digital capabilities will now build more on them. 

The first video call was invented in the 60s and was not so appreciated as everybody thought it was expensive and complicated. Today we have FaceTime, Zoom but adoption has not happened on a larger scale. But this will soon accelerate. Customers will be comfortable dialing into a video chat with their Insurance agent. 

I don’t believe there’ll be a New Normal. For example, in the US after 9/11 people thought that life will never get back to normal but except for rigorous security screening at the airports, there hasn’t been much change in the behavior. 

In Israel, amidst all the constant disturbance, people in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are living normal lives. There’ll certainly be some specific changes post the pandemic such as more adoption of digital technologies, more focus on customer needs but I believe there won’t be an entirely new world with a drastic change in consumer behavior.  

The need for personalization

What are some Attention hacking lessons for Insurers operating in ‘the New Normal’?

We are moving towards the personalization of products in general. Generally in Life Insurance, we insure people based on their date of birth or medical history. But what if we insure people based on their behavior? If we did that, would people change their more risky behavior to get a better rate? A non-smoker can be given a better rate as opposed to a smoker. If we get down to individuality, saying that this is your individual (your own) rate; it makes a difference. 

There is a lot of data available and AI is needed to mine that data and derive analytics. Just by building a relationship with customers, we are not doing a great job with personalization. It’s important to apply a human touch to the communication which makes customers feel like you know them. Thus, retaining their attention.

Digital customer experience in Insurance

For the insurance industry, what steps can help in delivering the right digital customer experience in terms of UX and visual design?

A lot of organizations practice Design Thinking but Financial Services don’t. They are of the opinion that they know what is needed as they themselves are customers and they have data from the surveys. But that’s a wrong approach. Design Thinking is about empathy. It is important to get into the shoes of your clients to design better solutions.

To enhance digital customer experience, Insurers need a thorough understanding of users — who are the ultimate clients, their needs, what they expect from this experience, etc. After comprehending how they engage with technology and financial services, start venturing into the solution and test the solutions with actual users.

Innovations in the financial services industry

What technology-based innovations are being explored within the financial services industry? And, do you see AI playing a role in the short term? 

AI has already affected Financial Services in a positive way and will make it better. In insurance, IoT has been very impactful and will continue to be. Some applications have already been applied in reality like sensors in cars to detect speed and ensure that you are under the speed limit. This helps in getting reduced premiums. 

However, some basic processes are still done in the old school way of shuffling papers. Straight though-out processes have not yet happened. Now RPA is being applied to this but it is more like a band-aid. What is more important is how we can build processes through true automation with AI.

[Related: 5 Insurance Front Office Operations AI Can Improve]

Adoption of AI in Insurance

Speaking about more adoption of technologies, do you think there’ll be more investment in AI now?

Absolutely! We have already seen that investment in technologies like AI, cloud computing, quantum computing has been ramping up. Businesses will invest much more in AI than before. It might be for better decision making, underwriting, understanding the behavior of clients, etc. Also, from a marketing standpoint, financial services have never focused much before but will now invest in AI for this area too.

[Related: How is AI extending customer support during COVID-19 pandemic]

In your recent article in Extractable – “Deploying third-party financial service technology to mitigate crisis” you talk about what tech vendors are doing wrong. Please expand on how to encourage resources to be innovative change agents?

There were two points that I made in the article-

First is about what companies are doing incorrectly when it comes to innovation. Risk management is consulted only after developing the product. The product release is stalled until the legal compliances are adhered to. Instead, companies should involve the risk management at the beginning of the process (while defining the problem and solution). Involving risk management at every step of the innovation process will make it much easier to push out innovation.

The second was about vendor management. Many small vendors such as tech vendors, InsurTechs want to sell solutions to financial service companies but are often surprised by the tedious vendor management process. There’s a lot of documentation. Once the first process of selling is done, vendors should package the documentation in a way that when the next prospect asks for it, the due diligence package is ready to offer. 

Read article – Deploying third-party financial service technology to mitigate crisis 

Wrapping up

Alex shared interesting insights on how Design Thinking and Visual Design can create better digital customer experience. The design vertical at Mantra Labs too believes in the same and has designed UX for various applications for its customers. Here’s an article to understand the role of Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX): Creating Amazing Digital Customer Experiences

[Also read: [Interview] Mr. Andrew Warburton | The New Normal in Insurance]

AI is going to be essential for Insurers to gain that competitive edge in the post-pandemic world. Check out Hitee — an Insurance specific chatbot for driving customer engagement. For your specific requirements, please feel free to write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com. 


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