Think about the last time you had a question about a product or service.
Maybe it wasn’t the most pressing matter in the world. It could have been a question about something you’ve already purchased. Or maybe it was a question about something you hadn’t bought yet. But whatever it is, you want it answered as quickly as possible.
“I hope I can spend a lot of time asking this business question,” is a sentence no one’s ever uttered.
Depending on the company, they may have numerous channels for you to contact them through. Phone, email, website form, brick and mortar store – the modern experience of interacting with a brand can offer no shortage of ways to get in touch with them.
But the customer only needs – and wants, really – one channel. They want the one that guarantees them the fastest response that solves their problem.
For companies looking to offer this, a more innovative way of addressing this is emerging. A recent study found that more than ever, more people are showing a preference for an online chatbot rather than filling out a form on a website.
According to Drift’s report titled “The 2019 State of Conversational Marketing,” just 14% of people would prefer filling out a website form over using a chatbot. That means that an overwhelming 86% of people prefer to log on to a website and interact with a chatbot over filling out a static form, hitting send, and awaiting a response.
But what explains this preference for the chatbot, the phenomenon HubSpot has called “the future of marketing“?
Why do people prefer chatbot over a website form?
The answer lies with the need for responsiveness. In 2019, offering little to no lag in response time is what differentiates the good from the great companies. It’s a pillar of good customer service.
Even if you can’t provide an answer straight away, the simple act of responding leaves the customer feeling acknowledged, heard, and, in turn, respected. If you can’t solve the issue immediately, at the very least you can let them know you’re working on it.
A chatbot allows you to do that. Think of how easy the experience is – your customer logs onto your website, ready with a question. Before they can even scan your home page, an online attendant has appeared in the bottom of their screen, ready and willing to answer your questions.
From a customer service perspective, it’s like playing offense instead of defense. You’re anticipating as opposed to reacting. That proactivity leaves the customer feeling confident in your ability to help them.
What are the drawbacks of using an online form?
Consider the simple act of submitting an online form. You have to enter your name and contact information. You have to describe the issue at hand. Then you have to hit send, wait for an automated email response, and wait for yet another response from the company. At that time, you’ll likely have to detail your problem again for the attendant who’s followed up via phone or email.
The process is cumbersome and places the burden on the consumer as opposed to the provider.
Pushing your customers to an online form leaves them with no sense of urgency on your end. Even if the end result is them receiving an email within seconds of hitting “send,” they still have to access another channel.
Leaning on an online form as your main customer service channel creates the perception of a lack of immediacy in addressing your customer’s problems. The Drift report also found that 82% of people expect quick responses from chatbots compared to 27% from an online form. The perception matches reality in this case – there’s no way you can respond to a form in the same time it takes a bot to let the customer know their issue is on its way to resolution.
What are the advantages of a chatbot?
As mentioned above, 82% of people expect a quick response from a bot. So if a customer is interacting with you via your website and encounters a chatbot, they’re more likely to think you’ll answer their question faster.
Drift’s report also found that 34% of people are frustrated they can’t get answers to simple questions. A chatbot can also address this need – the simplest questions tend to be the ones your customers will repeat over and over again. When you have frequently asked questions, you can program your chatbot to anticipate these queries and have a pre-programmed response ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.
The chatbot is on par with a face-to-face conversation
When it comes to customer service, nothing compares with face-to-face interaction in terms of responsiveness.
Or does it? Can a chatbot offer a similarly smooth and effective experience for the consumer?
Statistics increasingly show that this is the perception. Drift’s report also found that 44% of people expect a quick response from face-to-face interaction. That’s no surprise – it certainly seems like the fastest way to get a response is to ask someone you’re dealing with in person.
But what may be surprising is that 42% of people expect a quick response from a chatbot – that’s nearly identical to the figure for face-to-face dealings. It’s just more evidence that when people deal with a chatbot, they’ve become accustomed to quick resolutions.
For some people, it’s actually much more convenient. An in-person meeting involves going to a storefront or business location. To get access to a chatbot, the customer simply needs a working internet connection and a device. Then they can have all their questions answered from the comfort of their own home.
As more and more consumers rely on the internet to make purchases, having a reliable chatbot as a customer service representative will become increasingly useful for companies.
Using a chatbot as your primary channel for customer service interaction offers multiple benefits, including:
- Customers perceive it as generally the quickest way to get a response from you.
- You can gather data on customer questions to help solve future questions even faster.
- It gives you an opportunity to delight the customer with a seamless process during a time when they need to be delighted most – when they’ve either encountered a problem or want to buy what you’re selling.
A chatbot helps your customer service increase the speed with which it handles any question. And when it comes to customer service, speed is absolutely what you need.