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The Power of AI Chatbots in Business to Enhance Customer Connections

By Lianne Stewart

Published February 29, 2024 • 5 Min Read

You can combine both traditional customer service with new advancements in Artificial Intelligence to make these important customer connections more seamless.

Technology may evolve quickly, but fostering deep connections with customers never goes out of style. Fortunately, today, you can combine both traditional customer service with new advancements in Artificial Intelligence to make these important customer connections more seamless. We spoke with leaders, Andres Rojas, Director of Applied AI from the Vector Institute and Borealis AI’s Research Director Brian Keng, to dive into the key benefits, challenges, and future trends of incorporating AI chatbots into your customer service strategy.

Enhancing Customer Interactions Through Chatbot AI

It’s a known challenge in an online world that businesses can receive queries at any time of day, and waiting too long for a human response can frustrate a potential customer and move them to look at your competition. A key challenge for businesses of any size is implementing a chat channel for customer communication that can respond quickly despite different time zones and languages. Fortunately, today’s AI-powered chatbots enable businesses to expand their remit globally by  providing accurate and timely answers whenever their customers need support.

“Chatbot AIs are available 24/7 and they can interact with customers using multiple different languages while handling a virtually unlimited number of simultaneous chats,” Keng says, adding this not only ensures customers receive assistance at any time of day, irrespective of their geographical location.

Rojas adds that AI chatbots can even further customize the customer experience and create a more interactive and engaging experience. Through prompt engineering, AI chatbots can analyze user queries and pull relevant information from your business’s data to provide personalized responses that reflect how your company connects with its customers. This means that each time the question is asked, the AI bot can refine its answer to improve how it responds over time.

“For example, when a customer types their query, the question is inserted into your business’s data history, and so moving forward, the bot can reflect on all of the answers and provide an accurate response that’s informed by all of those previous experiences,” Rojas says.

One additional bonus: when AI chatbots remember these previous interactions, it can also foster a dialogue that uses local colloquialisms or phrases and human-like language that’s similar to a genuine, human relationship. This helps drive a deeper relationship.

The key to making this work is implementing a chatbot AI that strikes the right balance between human-like interactions and automation. To maintain deep trust with your customers, Rojas advises businesses to be transparent and make it clear when customers are interacting with an AI versus a human. And for a deeper connection, Keng advises using chatbots for tasks they’re good at and then adding a human touch when necessary, such as when it’s escalated by the customer or when the response requires nuance that artificial intelligence can’t yet capture.

Operational Efficiency and Cost Savings

Despite potentially steep initial set-up costs, Rojas says AI chatbot implementation can generate significant long-term reductions in operational costs. He says diverting routing queries to AI chatbots provides an opportunity for businesses to streamline their customer service operations, particularly around commonly asked questions. This means your human customer service agents can divert common questions to the bot and instead focus on the more complex issues that require deeper support. Your customer service agents will also have career growth opportunities as they’ll be in charge of continuous monitoring to ensure the AI-bot replies are seamless and provide a positive customer experience.

Keng explains the initial set up fees are high because AI bots need a detailed knowledge base in order to operate to expectations. It’s also important to remember that it takes time to tune the AI system to align with your company’s unique communication style to replicate the human customer service agent experience. He stresses it’s a cost worth spending as these aspects contribute to the effectiveness of your chatbot in providing accurate and contextually appropriate responses.

Benefits extending beyond the chat

To measure the success of chatbot AI implementations, Keng recommends that businesses track familiar KPIs such as call time, satisfaction surveys, and escalations. Additionally, ROI metrics play a crucial role in assessing the overall impact of this cutting-edge technology on customer connections and satisfaction.

Both experts stress, however, that a key benefit of AI-driven chatbots is that they serve as an additional, rich source of insights for businesses. You can use the data collected during interactions to gain a better understanding of customer preferences, concerns, and behaviors, and use AI to recommend further solutions to enable you to refine products, services, and deepen your overall customer engagement strategies.

What’s next for AI-driven customer engagement

Looking ahead, both Rojas and Keng anticipate the expansion of chatbots beyond text into other modalities like audio and voice conversations. “These multimodal AIs will open up novel use cases for businesses to interact with customers and form strong relationships with them,” Keng explains.

As Keng and Rojas agree, the integration of AI chatbots into customer service strategies offers a myriad of benefits, from cost reductions to enhanced customer experiences. By understanding the challenges, striking the right balance, and staying vigilant on data privacy, businesses can leverage chatbot AI to foster deeper connections with their customers. And looking to the future, the evolution of multimodal AI presents exciting opportunities for businesses to further enhance customer interactions and relationships.

Getting in on the ground floor now to explore chatbots today can prepare you for such a future. Consider making chatbot exploration a priority if your business relies on customer communication to drive conversions.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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