Chatbots prove their worth

• 5 minute read • 16/09/2019
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Companies have now discovered the value of a chatbot, and these chatbots have also proven their worth within customer care. Alexander de Ruiter is at the helm of Spotler Engage and can rightly be called an expert in the field, and the CEO discusses, among other things, the latest developments in chatbot technology and how they can best be used and implemented.

The chatbot is clearly on the rise. According to Alexander de Ruiter, chatbots are becoming more and more commonplace in the field of customer service. “There are no longer discussions about whether or not they have added value. The discussions now are about the various possibilities the chatbot can offer. What we see very clearly is that our customers are constantly expanding the areas in which chatbots can be used.” In addition, De Ruiter sees that chatbots are increasingly being utilised in various channels, especially social media and messaging.

“You can say that you can implement a chatbot on any digital communication channel. But where chatbots are emerging, conversational AI applications are lagging behind. You can already see the first commercial implementations with voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Home, but in the service domain these are really just in their infancy. Asking a service question via Google Home and then being offered a solution is already happening, but not enough. Adoption will take a while, but that will really grow in the future. We keep a close eye on those developments and are already conducting various tests on them.”

Higher customer satisfaction

Another development that De Ruiter sees is that chatbots are increasingly being used within organisations for employee support. For PostNL, for example, Spotler Engage is working on creating a chatbot environment for answering HR questions for mail deliverers. “The bots can also help the IT service desk with resetting a password or reporting a printer failure. With chatbots, companies can offer their customers and employees service at any time of the day, including evenings and weekends. In addition, chatbots are efficient and save costs, and the employees in general are also quite enthusiastic about the bots.

Internal investigations have shown that customers who interacted with a chatbot have a higher customer satisfaction rate than those who had only been in contact with a service employee. This has to do with the fact that a chatbot is location and time independent and can therefore quickly help anyone at any time.”

Extremely satisfied students

The students of Erasmus University have also come to discover the conveniences of a chatbot. The university implemented a bot to help Dutch and international students answer questions, especially regarding the enrollment process and tuition fees. The chatbot, with the appropriate name Desiderius, understands both Dutch and English. “The chatbot has led to a significant reduction in the number of questions for the service organisation,” says De Ruiter. “The students are helped much faster and can therefore also go through the process faster.”

The results show that the students are quite happy with Desiderius. The satisfaction rating is no less than 90 percent, which more than exceeded the KPI of 60 percent. Erasmus University is so enthusiastic about the project that the organisation is looking at ways in which Desiderius can be used even more.

Spotler Engage is also working for various municipal institutions, where companies implement what are called off-the-shelf bots. “Not every municipality needs to reinvent the wheel,” the CEO explains. “All municipalities can implement the same standard appointment bot, which is already happening in e-commerce, because the return process at one company will not differ much from the return process at another company. These types of bots don’t necessarily have to be tailor-made because they’re already about 80 percent ready. All you have to do is adjust things like your own tone-of-voice and system links.”

Process support

Another successful implementation was recently realised for Videoland, RTL’s video-on-demand platform. Customers often contact them because they don’t get the kind of content they want to watch. “These problems usually occur in the evenings and on weekends, when there are less customer service employees available,” De Ruiter explains. “Often it’s just a matter of a reset or entering the correct code — things that can easily be handled by a chatbot, after which it then immediately conducts a customer satisfaction survey, where you can also see that customer satisfaction is higher than when there is only contact with an employee.”

Implementing a chatbot can mean a lot for a company, but De Ruiter advises to think carefully about its actual purpose. “First find out who the target group is and look at what kind of contact these customers what to have with the organisation. Based on this, you’ll be able to determine which channels you want to use. Don’t implement a bot just because you think you should do something with chatbots. The customer service should be the leading factor, and not the technology. Companies need to think about what the chatbot should mean for their customers and what processes they should support. Historical conversational data between the customers and the service desk within the specific channel will serve as the basis for this. The starting point should be: how can you offer customers a good experience that will increase the service level?”

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