AI tools like customer service chatbots have been sweeping the customer service industry in recent years, with some saying that these could just be the tonic for companies struggling to fill customer service functions amid the current talent shortage.
This workforce paucity is driven in part by “The Great Resignation”–the phenomenon that saw millions of American workers walk out on their jobs during the pandemic.
Leveraging technology to automate human functions is where the job market as a whole is moving, with Drift’s 2020 State of Conversational Marketing report stating that leveraging chatbots as a brand communication channel has increased by a whopping 92% since 2019. This is significant and business owners must take note.
When online, 88% of customers expect rapid responses, and the main reason consumers use chatbots is that they get almost immediate answers. This highlights the major advantage AI-driven chatbot technology has over human interactions: lightning-fast response times.
Businesses deploying software solutions such as chatbot jobs for B2B eCommerce will have a competitive advantage in a market starved of a workforce. Using AI tools in customer service roles means eCommerce firms can now serve customers around the world and around the clock.
Businesses, it appears, are fast realizing the tremendous opportunities chatbots offer.
Talent Shortage: Opportunity for Automation?
The American workforce has never had a better chance to wield its leverage, says Nada Sanders, distinguished professor of supply chain management at Northeastern University.
There is a critical demand for workers across every sector—from hospitality to healthcare to logistics, you name it. But, while they are negotiating from a position of strength as the “ongoing labor shortage creates greater demand and incentivizes higher wages for their services,” those gains are temporary, warns Sanders, pointing out that unmet demand and rising costs for skilled labor are convincing employers to “automate their businesses at an accelerated rate.”
A World Economic Forum (WEF) survey of over 300 companies has found that 43% are planning to mitigate the effects of the labor shortage with AI tools such as chatbot automation. Sanders further points out that businesses are realizing that investing in automated systems means no need to pay wages and employee benefits while smartly eliminating pandemic concerns.
In eCommerce, sending a customer (who abandoned their cart) a private message via chatbot a few hours later reminding them to complete their purchase can help businesses capitalize on sales they might otherwise lose out on. As per Chatbots Magazine, using abandoned cart chatbots alongside Messenger boosts eCommerce revenue by 7-25%.
Some 34% of online retail store customers now accept AI chatbots, more so than in any other industry. Chatbots help drive sales by leveraging so-called ‘push’ factors–upselling, marketing, and cart recovery notifications. Juniper Research forecasts that eCommerce transactions via chatbots will hit $112 billion by 2023, as well as saving businesses 2.5 billion hours.
Man vs. Machine
“Vastly overblown” is how the WEF describes the fear that machines will keep humans out of the workplace. Most experts believe that automation is actually going to create massive numbers of jobs, while ARK Investment Management data suggest that automation will add 5%, or $1.2 trillion, to US GDP in the next four years.
Technology is rapidly being rolled out to compensate for these shortages and to make processes more efficient across industry sectors. By taking over the grind of tedious, repetitive tasks and the danger of more hazardous ones, automation can free up humans to tackle other tasks, and yes, manage those machines themselves.
Chatbots vs. Humans: Can AI Tools Replace Human Agents?
Chatbots are a smart way of tackling a desperate shortage of talented customer service agents. But what exactly is a chatbot? Put simply, a chatbot or a bot is an AI software tool that can simulate a conversation with a user through a given platform.
There are two main components to a chatbot automation interaction. First, the AI software analyzes whatever the consumer asks—where can I find my account number—for example. Once analyzed, the chatbot retrieves the correct link, pre-approved text response, or stored data and responds.
The speed and precision with which the bot can retrieve data are where chatbots truly shine. 68% of respondents say the most positive aspect of their chatbot interactions was the ability of the bot to provide answers quickly, along with getting help outside of normal operating hours.
However, while chatbot AI technology has come a long way, it still does not have the problem-solving capabilities of humans. The most effective way to use chatbots is to provide preprogrammed answers to simple, routine queries, and have them pass anything more complicated onto your customer service and sales reps.
Where to Use Chatbots
For effective implementation, chatbot functions should be used when dealing with specific tasks, including but not limited to:
- Customer services such as website support, Q&A, complaint management
- Social media inquiries
- Marketing for eCommerce purposes
- Automated sales lead generation
- Booking, ticketing, and other eCommerce functions
- Human resources, recruitment, training, and onboarding
Artificial intelligence tools are reshaping the business communication landscape. Chatbots can collect website visitor contact information 24/7, in almost any language, and are fast becoming potent weapons in the lead generation arsenal of modern businesses.
Research shows that 55% of businesses that use chatbots generate more high-quality leads. Moreover, by answering simple queries, chatbots can yield as much as 30% savings on customer support team costs, with predictions that chatbots will save businesses $8 billion by 2022.
Should You Use Chatbots?
A chatbot is just another AI tool you can use to interact with clients, like responding to an email or customer query, for example.
What makes chatbots unique, though, is the ease-of-use aspect. Chatbots utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to understand spoken or written language and adapt accordingly, engaging in conversations that elicit responses from the client while extracting valuable information.
eCommerce is booming, and so are eCommerce chatbots powered by AI tools. By 2023, 70% of all chatbots will be serving retail brands. Deploying bots in eCommerce comes with a number of benefits. Chatbots can save you time by solving problems fast, save you money (no wages to be paid), and increase the speed of your operations.
AI tools, such as chatbots learn and retain important details about past customer interactions, and can offer personalized product recommendations. Chatbots are usable across a range of industries and applications, including social media, and personal assistants (think Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant).
But the main advantages of chatbot automation are the lightning-quick response times for consumers, resolving customer complaints with accuracy and speed, crucial considerations in an era of ever-increasing and ever-evolving customer demands.
Innovate Your eCommerce Business AI Tools
In an increasingly digital world along with customers clamoring for more online versatility from businesses, automation should not be viewed as something to be feared, but rather as a critical resource to improve the online experience for customers and expand profit margins.
Business owners must focus on three critical aspects in order to thrive online: drive traffic, nurture leads, and convert traffic. AI tools like chatbots can help you with all three of these functions. By employing chatbot automation tools, you’re taking a significant step towards growth, enhanced customer satisfaction, boosting conversion rates.
Businesses can gain visibility into customer behavior and utilize these data-driven insights to make smarter business decisions. Chatbots are here to stay and are transforming the way businesses communicate with their customers in significant ways. In other words, this is not something that you can afford to ignore.
Zobrist’s seasoned team has been in eCommerce from the onset, so we can apply our wide-ranging expertise to overcome your toughest challenges simply because we’ve been there before. We build enterprise-level eCommerce storefronts, mobile commerce applications, and managed services working with clients such as Vans, North Face, Mazda, and 3M to build conversion-oriented e-commerce storefronts using popular platforms, including HCL Commerce, Adobe Magento, and Salesforce Commerce.
Chat with the Zobrist team today and let us help you make the transition to AI tools and learn more about how chatbot technology can enhance and streamline your eCommerce operations.