Ecommerce merchants are told time and time again that profits come from designing an enchanting customer journey. There's a lot of demands that you have to be omnipresent across all social media platforms, post on your blog every other day, keep up with trends in your industry and deliver the best freaking customer service in the universe.
This can often become unmanageable without the help of a solid team behind your business, but thanks to emerging technology, artificial intelligence can now assist with many of these tasks.
The future of customer support
Although AI is not 'taking our jobs' in the sci-fi nightmare scenario where we'll all become slaves to robots, they are beginning to help businesses with menial, everyday tasks. The provision of basic customer service is one of these.
By 2020, AI bots will power 85% of customer service interactions. This prospect opens up a lot of brainpower for businesses to invest in more creative avenues.
Where AI is developing massively at the moment is in creating a seamless journey for customers. 69% of customers prefer chatbots for quick customer support because of the speed at which they can receive the desired information.
How customer support is changing to incorporate AI integrated platforms
In the next few years, customer data will become more organised within the customer support sector. Whoever is addressing the customer query or complaint, whether that be man or machine, will have access to previous customer interactions with the eCommerce business. This data will help answer questions such as:
- What is their preferred point of contact? Customers are using social media as a quick point of entry to get their query responses
- Are they experiencing repeated problems related to the checkout process?
- Are they a new, existing or VIP customer?
Having this backlog of knowledge helps the customer support team to exceed expectations. The value of this lies not only in customer retention but also in converting potential customers.
Most customers are aware and compassionate enough to know that businesses are run by people and mistakes are inevitable from time to time. However, times are changing. Your customers have more needs than ever. Nowadays, customers want a response within a few short hours. AI integrated platforms will enable stores to conduct speedy yet high-quality customer service.
What are artificially intelligent chatbots?
Chances are you’ve seen one before. It’s becoming more and more common for these bots to appear on online stores, chirpily asking if you’d like any help. As we’ll see, they are capable of a lot more than greeting customers on your site!
Essentially, they are algorithms that are taught how to interact with customers. This is the Machine Learning part of chatbots. Chatbots are fed huge amounts of data which they then learn from.
These bots also make use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) so that they can address customers core issues in a tone that suits your business. You can even give your chatbot a personality using emojis and humour. NLP allows chatbots to interpret your customers, including understanding slang and abbreviations.
Conversations between chatbots and customers already take place on familiar interfaces such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and website chat. Messaging apps surpassed social media apps in 2015. These are now the go-to platforms that people use to connect online. So instead of forcing your customer to email or call your customer service team during business hours, it’s more accommodating to provide support on their preferred platform.
Sephora’s chatbot, Kik, is a great example of how AI can add value to the UX. Kik gives makeup tips and provides customers with suggested products and even quizzes so they can select the perfect shade.
How can chatbots help improve your customer experience and drive conversions?
Chatbots are relatively new, and people are still excited by them. Provide them with access to interact with these tools in their shopping experience, and you’ll stand out from the crowd. The personalised messages make customers feel special, brighten their day and increase conversions.
Chatbots are ready and waiting 24/7 to help out your customer. Not only does this cater to the always-on online culture, but also to those who live on the other side of the planet. By implementing AI technologies you are effectively reducing their waiting time on a basic query down to zero. Your customer is instantly seen to which dramatically improves the customer experience.
Chatbots can personalise the customer experience. For example, your bot could initiate a conversation by recommending a top that goes with the skirt in their cart, or provide a link to a blog they might find interesting. You can check out our article on the importance of eCommerce personalisation here.
Assist with common support requests
Rather than having your team spend precious time answering common customer queries, your bot can step in and do this for you.
Bots are less likely to make any slip-ups because of their memory storage, and they can also take care of many customers at one time. An unforgiving customer who disliked your customer support service can do a lot of damage in a review. AI increases the likelihood of your customers praising your customer support.
Chatbots can help reduce your customer service costs by 30%. This particular tool is economic and quick to develop. Better still, most of the costs come from the initial set up, so won’t increase as your business grows.
Reduce competitive tasks & increase job satisfaction
Employee satisfaction does not stem from performing menial tasks all day long. Chatbots can take charge of answering customers’ routine queries which can help to provide your team with a greater sense of job satisfaction. With AI implementation, the humans on your team will have more opportunities to be creative and experience a variety of challenges.
Forget about delivering good customer support for a moment, and zoom out. Creating a winning eCommerce business stems from an incredible customer journey. As customer demands rise, companies need to reach out with personalised content. This would not be a cost-effective endeavour without chatbots.
You can also count on chatbots to lower cart abandonment rates. 69% of online carts get abandoned, and email does little to prevent this. Chatbots have a 619% better engagement rate than email which prompts customers into sealing the deal.
What are the limitations? Why is it important to also use customer interaction?
We’re not yet in a place where every aspect of your customer service can be outsourced by AI. Chatbots can, especially in the early stages, become confused or stuck when presented with unsaved queries. They can also become addled when dealing with too many customer queries at once.
That’s the technical side of AI’s limitations. However, there are also times when your customer needs the human touch, when even the most helpful AI script just won’t do. Some customer actions command empathy and, providing them with machine support can be construed as insensitive.
What AI integrated chatbots do we recommend using with Shopify?
Gorgias is the all-in-one helpdesk for Shopify merchants. The substantial range of tools that this software package provides will enhance your customer support presence and free up your time. Here’s a snapshot of the cool features:
- Access to conversation history and order data: see all relevant customer data so you can give them the best service possible.
- Use A/B testing to measure the effect of different remedies to customer dissatisfaction. This could be rewarding customers with $10 off next purchase or giving them a 15% discount.
- Using Gorgias, you can trigger chat conversations to encourage customers to interact with your brand and drive revenue.
- Create message templates with data-rich macros to create more personalised messages.
- Monitor your team’s performance and set customer service KPIs. This helps you better understand your customers’ requests and improve response times.
They’ve got a price plan to suit every business, whatever your automated customer service requirements. Read more about Gorgias here.
AI: the way of the future
AI is just one of the emerging technologies that can accelerate your Shopify store’s profits. We can help you harness these powerhouses on our blog, which you can check out here. If you’re looking for professional advice and a tailored game plan for your eCommerce store, we’d be happy to hear from you!