People are no longer reliant on going to the store to buy a product. In fact, they’d rather not. And why should they when they can just go right to Amazon? It’s a fast, impersonal interaction that leaves the customer with exactly what they want — for the most part. If things don’t go their way — their product is damaged, they received the wrong item, shipping costs are too high, the product wasn’t delivered in time, the product looks nothing like the picture — they’re forced to deal with customer service, which was what they wanted to avoid all along.

Chatbots are much more powerful than you last remember. They use AI, natural language processing, sentimental analysis, predictive analytics, and other powerful features to resolve tons of issues simultaneously, redirect people to the appropriate agent, offer product recommendations, and direct people to self-service options the company already provides — all while being able to generate more accurate reports that can leave a significant impact on a business’ customer experience strategy going forward.

Chatbots are the solution to faster customer service that people are looking for, that can separate your business from the competition. But in order to get people to actually use them, they have to be able to resolve a number of customer service inquiries that will meet and exceed the customer’s expectations. Here, we’re breaking down ten customer service inquiries your AI chatbot should be handling for your business in 2019.

Inquiries Your AI Chatbot Should Handle

Customer service goes beyond resolving tickets. Many agents play an important role in sales and marketing, but that can also take them away from more complex tasks that require their attention. This is where chatbots come in. The technology isn’t new, which is a problem. We still associate chatbots with horrible, robotic service, as a way for companies to pass along our issues to a computer. Let’s break down some of the inquiries AI chatbots can handle while still being able to offer a personalized customer experience and use cases that match with each inquiry.

1. “Can You Connect Me With…”

People want fast service, but they’re not always sure who the right person to ask is when they have a question or want to buy a product. Someone who previously did business with you is more likely to remember which agent they worked with. If they can’t remember, working with someone else might be too stressful and discourage them from making a future purchase.

Instead of calling customer service, waiting on hold, asking to speak to someone in another department, waiting on hold again for the appropriate agent, and then not being guaranteed the answer you’re looking for, you can speak to a chatbot from the comfort of your home or on the way to the store and ask it to connect you with either the agent you last spoke to or an agent who’s best fit to answer your questions. Businesses do this by programming chatbots to perform commands based on trigger words related specifically to the product a customer asks about.

When customers still feel that an actual person is best fit to resolve their issue as quickly as possible, chatbots are a great way to close the gap that exists between an app or website and the agent. Instead of thinking of chatbots as replacements for face-to-face interactions, think of them as a step in the right direction — especially when AI can look at customer data and predict why they’re calling, interpret context from previous interactions, and, for the most part, accurately guess what they’re after. CRM software integrations make this all even easier.

Liberty Mutual Insurance uses chatbots to…

  • Integrate with Alexa for an added voice functionality.
  • Answer questions about payments.
  • Offer estimates.
  • Connect people with insurance agents.

2. “I Need Information About My Last Purchase.”

It’s also important for your AI chatbot to be able to bring up information regarding a customer’s last purchase, such as the order number for returns, exchanges, or reorders, the cost of that product to see if it’s the same price as last time, shipping costs to determine whether or not it’s worth having the product delivered or picked up in store, or the date of your last purchase to determine how often you need a product if you’re a regular customer and looking to schedule orders.

AI comes into play when finding and interpreting patterns in the buying behavior of a customer, who might not even be aware that pattern exists. This also leaves businesses with the opportunity to use chatbots to be more proactive with previous customers. If a customer logs into your website, the chatbot can look at buying patterns of that customer based on order history and other metrics and predict if that customer is back to make another similar purchase. Instead of a simple “Hello,” the bot can start off with a personalized message that reads, “Would you like to purchase X again? Click here to add to your cart.”

If the person interacting with the bot says, “No, I’d like to make a return,” the bot should be able to interpret the word “return” as meaning, “I’d like to speak to a customer service agent,” and then ask the customer, “Would you like me to connect you with the next available agent?” If that customer has a particular agent in mind, the bot should also be able to determine who helped the customer and connect the two in order to speed up the interaction.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines uses chatbots to…

  • Allow customers to receive flight confirmations.
  • Offer check-in reminders.
  • Receive flight status updates.
  • Receive better access customer service agents.

3. “I’d Like To Update My Account Info.”

This is beneficial for both the business and the customer. If a customer has a new preferred method of making a payment, they should be able to ask your chatbot to update it for them. That way, the customer can focus on finding the product or service they were looking for.

With AI, businesses can theoretically take it a step further by storing that payment method into their CRM software, along with any other useful information that can be used to segment customers and offer them a more personalized customer experience in the future. This is important when your goal as a customer service agent is to leave the customer with the feeling of wanting to do business with your company again, regardless of the situation.

Instead of receiving a message from your chatbot that asks, “Have you updated your account information recently?” you can ask a customer, “Would you like us to update and save your account info for future purchases?” This proactive, actionable approach encourages the customer to share information with your customer service team that can help prevent potential issues, like wanting a refund and having the money placed on a specific card.

Capital One uses chatbots to…

  • Provide account information to customers.
  • Help customers make payments through smartphones.

4. “What Is Your Return Policy?”

This is an inquiry any chatbot should be able to handle, so how can companies use AI chatbots to offer a more actionable interaction? If a customer asks what your return policy is, your bot asks if they’d like to speak to an agent, and they say no, the interaction doesn’t have to end there. AI can look at how that customer made a purchase by accessing their purchase/order history. From there, it will be able to determine if they used a card, had the product shipped, or if they picked it up, the billing address, and when they made the purchase.

Then the bot can say something like, “Would you like me to send you a shipping label with your current billing address?” which still lets the customer have complete control over the interaction while being able to handle the problem him/herself. Self-service is imperative to an effective customer service strategy. Without it, customers who want their problems resolved quickly are forced to use traditional methods that don’t offer the speed they expect while pulling agents away from more important tasks.

Problems will always arise regardless of how prepared your business is. What makes the difference is how your business handles them. AI chatbots offer customers the ability to interact with a company quickly without sacrificing personality. AI allows companies to be proactive and offer actionable solutions instead of simply sending customers to an FAQ page. That’s no longer enough in 2019.

Narvar offers chatbots that can…

  • Enable seamless returns and exchanges.
  • Offer customers self-service.
  • Monitor trends in real-time to offer the best possible experience.

5. “I’d Like To Purchase…” or “Do You Recommend…”

This might feel more like an inquiry for sales or marketing, but customer service agents who are well versed in the product or service the company offers can help eliminate the need to put the customer on hold when all they want is to speak to a real person on the phone. In fact, “68% of customers said that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences, and 62% said that a representative’s knowledge or resourcefulness was key.” Customer service is the backbone of any business because customers interact the most with that department.

And this might seem like an inquiry that only a live agent can handle, but AI, as we’ve said, can look at buying patterns, purchase history, recently viewed product pages, best sellers, and much more data to determine what a customer is looking for. Customers don’t want to use a chatbot just to be redirected to an agent unless they specifically ask for it. They also don’t want a list of products that don’t even relate to what they’re looking for. Every action has to have a purpose.

In order for customers to feel like they should be using a chatbot, they have to know that the chatbot is actionable and will make buying a product or service easier. Customer expectations rise with advancements in technology. AI is still in its early stages, but it’s quite mainstream at this point. This means your agents have to be knowledgeable, your channels have to work together to offer an omnichannel experience, and your channels on an individual level need to offer actionable solutions to customer inquiries so customers feel more inclined to reach out to customer service.

Arie uses chatbots to…

  • Offer customers better recommendations with a “this or that” method.
  • Browse products based on mood, lining, and push-up levels.

Ebay uses Chatbots to…

  • Find customers the best deals.
  • Recommend products based on messages, pictures, and videos sent.
  • Help customers find new products.

6. “How Can I Use X Differently?”

Here’s where AI can get interesting. We all know how a product works before we buy it. Or we, at the very least, have a general understanding of what it is, otherwise, we wouldn’t buy it in the first place. However, many people buy products for their own purpose and not what it’s originally intended for. DIY culture has an extremely widespread and passionate base that feeds directly into what America is all about: making the most of what we have.

This is why self-service is so popular, and why chatbots are constantly being improved with AI. Chatbots of old can send a customer to a knowledge base where they can learn all about what the product does, but that doesn’t go far enough in 2019. We want YouTube videos of real people using products; we’d love to see some inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram; we need product reviews from both professionals and regular customers.

Why make the customer look for all of this him/herself when AI is more than capable of searching your website or the internet for anything related to your product? We’re already using virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, so it’s time to bring that same technology into the buyer’s journey.

Whole Foods uses chatbots to…

  • Help customers find products in stores.
  • Simplify interactions by letting customers use emojis.
  • Offer customers recipes with items they’re purchasing.
  • Use keywords for specific recipes that take dietary restrictions into consideration.

7. “Where Can I Find X Near Me?”

It’s inevitable that your business is going to run out of a product. How often do your customer service agents hear, “When is X going to be back in stock?” which is another great inquiry your AI chatbot should be handling for your business in 2019? One simple approach for your chatbot would be to suggest connecting the customer to an agent, but that’s not a guarantee.

Instead, your AI chatbot should be looking at where the request is coming from and send the customer a list of stores that might also have the product they’re looking for. Big companies with multiple stores do this all the time. Retail companies like Target, Nordstrom, and Macy’s carry tons of products that, from time to time, might sell out. When shopping online, people want immediate results, so when something’s out of stock and they need it now, the option to run to the store is still there thanks to the chatbot.

And callers don’t have to waste their time going to the store and waiting in line to ask customer service when the product will be in stock again or get stuck on hold. This makes life easy for the customer and the agent, who both have more important things to do. Instead of losing out on a potential sale, the customer can order from, or visit, another store.

Stubhub uses chatbots to…

  • Keep you and your friends connected with each other via Skype.
  • Find concert and event tickets in your area.

8. “What Are Other People Buying?”

Here’s another inquiry that appears to be better for an actual agent, but like we’ve mentioned numerous times, AI chatbots can look at customer data, generate reports based on that data, and determine what’s trending and why. When a customer asks what other people are buying, they’re going beyond a simple recommendation, which we’ve already discussed.

Simple recommendations would just have a chatbot look at ratings on your business’ website, but an AI chatbot could scour the internet for videos, articles, mentions on social media, and pictures of a product that are relevant to what the customer wants right now. Customers look to chatbots for simple answers, but many enjoy going down the rabbit hole. If there’s an opportunity for a chatbot to offer a developed answer to a simple question, why not take it?

Good products get recommended to friends and family. From there, communities are formed around that product. A product a customer is looking for might not have great reviews online because it breaks easily; however, dig a little deeper and you might see that with a few modifications that can easily be done yourself with a YouTube video as a guide, that poorly rated product might be worth the buy after all.

NBC uses chatbots to…

  • Tailor news articles to customers based on their interests and demographics.
  • Showcase news articles that are currently trending.
  • Use Facebook to speak with other like-minded people.

9. “I’d Like To File A Complaint About…”

This inquiry can go in a couple different directions: about a product or about an employee. If a customer would like to file a complaint about a product that they’d like to have returned, chatbots should be more than capable of asking the customer what was wrong with it and how would they like to go about resolving the issue.

If a customer would like to file a complaint about an employee because they had a bad experience in store, they should absolutely be able to do so from the comfort of their home and after they’ve had time to think more clearly about the situation. Customer service employees have bad days like all of us, but if an issue is crazy enough to feel like a complaint needs to be filed, it’s best for the company to make that process easy and transparent.

Transparency is the key to a personalized customer experience. Bad days happen. We all get it. What separates a good company from a bad one is how they handle the bad experiences. They should never be seen as lost causes, regardless of who’s in the right or wrong. Allowing a customer to complain about a product or employee helps ensure the same situation doesn’t happen again. AI can come into play by interpreting the detailed descriptions and picking out important keywords using natural language processing to determine what the next best course of action is and who to contact.

Medwhat is a medical chatbot that can…

  • Use natural language processing to analyze context and offer personalized responses.
  • Continuously learn and improve the more it speaks to customers.
  • Acquire more data to offer more detailed responses.

10. “I’d like to buy a 🍕”

We’re not kidding. This is a thing. It’s not a customer service thing, per se, but chatbots should be able to understand emojis and even respond with the appropriate one. Domino’s Pizza’s chatbot allows customers to order pizza using the pizza emoji. Keeping your customer service team full of delicious pizza is enough to brighten anyone’s day.

All kidding aside, the easier it is for a customer to interact with a chatbot, even if it means using an emoji, that customer should be able to send one in place of text if that’s the direction they want the conversation to go. AI chatbots typically come with sentiment analysis, so what better way to understand how a customer feels than by using an emoji?

Some people might not be confident in their English. Luckily, emotions are universal. If a chatbot asks how you are, but you’re not sure how to express how upset you are over receiving a damaged product, it should be more than enough to send a sad face and trigger a chatbot to set the customer up with a live agent. Going above and beyond with something as simple as emojis can make or break an experience and leave the customer feeling amazed at how much you prioritize quality customer service.

Domino’s Pizza uses chatbots to…

  • Allow customers to order pizza with the pizza emoji.
  • Track an order and estimate time of delivery.
  • Link Google and/or Facebook accounts to Domino’s account.

The Final Word

AI chatbots are still in their infancy, making much of what we speak about sound more like predictions rather than reality. However, they’re already being used in a number of surprising ways. The more machine learning technology advances, the easier it will be for businesses, more specifically customer service agents, will take advantage of their powerful features such as sentiment analysis and natural language processing on a much grander scale.

Chatbots are a self-service tool that have been around for a long time now, but they are notorious for being unhelpful and unable to process simple commands. We’re past that now, and their popularity continues to grow. And it’s also no coincidence that their popularity is increasing with younger generations as AI becomes more mainstream. Our expectations are at an all-time high, meaning the self-service channels we provide customers has to meet those needs.

Customer service has a ton on their plate. They’re often viewed as the backbone of a company and as representatives of the company’s mission.  This is for a good reason, if you aren’t sure how important customer service is, check out these customer service stats.  If there’s a problem, customer service is there to help. With that responsibility comes a lot of pressure to handle every situation thrown at their agents as quickly as possible. AI chatbots alleviate that pressure by taking on more and more complex tasks that would normally waste a lot of time during the day.

Instead, those agents can focus on what really matters in 2019, which is the customer experience. These ten customer service inquiries your AI chatbot should be handling for your business in 2019 are just the tip of the iceberg. AI being in its infancy means that the technology will only continue to improve as we learn more about AI’s potential. For now, these inquiries are great to keep in mind when trying to put the customer first.