Image: Wynand Smit is CEO of INOVO, a contact centre and business services provider.
CAPE TOWN - Your company has a growing menu of channel options to choose from when it comes to interacting with your customers: voice, email, social media, online, in-store and chat. 

Depending on what your core business needs are when it comes to customer-to-business interaction you’re likely trying to ensure that if the need for additional channels is there, you’ll provide it. 

You’ll need to know what the benefits can be before doing this, to ensure that you’re keeping your communication strategy trim and efficient.

Chatbots are relatively new on the scene, and they’re one of two things: a trendy channel to have to show off how relevant you are or a practical means of communication that allows for efficiency and productivity, as well as slick customer experience.

Here are three benefits to chatbots worth considering when examining your channel options:


Chatbots, when operating out of data-driven insights, will allow you to streamline your communication according to your customers’ requirements. Since at this stage their functions are relatively rudimentary, they are primarily used to solve simple queries, but that is not to say that machine learning (AI) can’t play a role in providing more personalized responses and an enhanced customer experience. 

2.Channel integration

Chatbots rarely take on the entire customer journey, but they can facilitate this by assisting with basic functions before ensuring that for more complex tasks the interaction is channeled to the right department within the company. So a customer may start with a product query or basic information request about accounts and this can be handled until a step in the process such as identity verification or the need for a secure monetary transaction is needed, at which point the transaction is fed through to the relevant person equipped to deal with it, avoiding the need for a second contact.

3.Do-it-yourself business
Time is of the essence: for your customers, the faster they can get from A to Z, the happier they are. For your business, the less time your agents are bogged down in calls about the minutiae of an interaction, the more time they have to spend on more complex tasks or ones that are more profitable, such as sales campaigns. Chatbots “sweat the small stuff” so you don’t have to.

These all sound like great benefits- and they are – but not all business models will suit chatbot implementation. If you bring in a chatbot channel, there must be sufficient quantities of interactions via the channel to warrant its implementation. So if a chatbot can save your agents time and deal with the right kinds of interactions effectively (and your customers are prepared to use it), then that’s perfect. Your goal is to streamline processes, not to add more complex ones, so all channel implementations must be designed to work together effectively.