Chatbots May Be A CRM Win, But Great CX Eliminates The Need To Ask

February 5, 2018

CRM chatbots only work if a customer asks a question first. To build relationships with your customers, you can’t just react to their needs — you need to proactively identify and solve them.

More and more companies are putting a chatbot at the center of their CRM strategy — and for good reason. CRM chatbots work really well for transactional service issues, and if it’s an AI chatbot, its responses will only get better over time. Best of all, a chatbot gives customers an experience they’re used to — chatting online, often from their phones.

It’s just that always having to go get information — instead of being guided to it — can leave customers frustrated and lead to churn.

CRM chatbots only work if a customer asks a question first. To build relationships with your customers, you can’t just react to their needs — you need to proactively identify and solve them. New mobile engagement automation solutions allow you to map customer journeys and start conversations before customers feel stuck. A fully realized CRM plan will bring that guided service together with self-service, so customers can choose how they want to interact and you can build relationships that last.

The future of CX goes beyond chatbot integration to proactive, personalized engagement

If you take a look at your current customer engagement model, chances are you’ll find it relies heavily on self-service. Don’t worry, most companies are in the same boat. FAQs, community forums and CRM chatbots are all great tools for customers searching for answers. They also all put the cognitive load on customers, who need to know where to go, what questions to ask, and when. And because these resources are built for everyone, customers have to dig through a lot of information to find the content that’s relevant to them. As easy experiences become a baseline expectation for customer loyalty, companies must offer guidance.

Mobile engagement automation takes that weight off customers by making it easy for service providers to reach out at the right time with the right information. Relay lets you send personalized support straight to customers’ mobile phones based on where they are in their journey. That saves customers’ time and improves their experience — and it saves you money, by reducing churn and decreasing the cost of engagement.

Leading student loan lender Citizens Bank figured out pretty quickly that it couldn’t rely on applicants to check their email or the portal each day for critical next steps. To shorten the time it takes to file for a loan and increase completion rates, they needed to reach millennial customers right on their phones. Relay allowed Citizens Bank to instantly onboard customers, automate mobile messaging, and deliver interactive service experiences. A text notification brought applicants to a personalized Citizens Bank website, where they’d see the next best action to close the gap. Individualized solutions and proactive, timely reminders increased overall loan completions by 10 percent and made the process 40 percent faster. Better still, the whole launch took only 30 days, giving Citizens Bank a secure mobile connection with customers that they can rely on during future lifecycle events.

While chatbot technology and other self-service CRM tools have their uses, they can’t proactively move people through the loan application process. When customers are burning through your CRM resources with a particular question that has a universal solution, it might make sense to program a chatbot to handle it. For so many experiences though, proactive, guided service is more efficient, and more effective at winning customer loyalty. That’s especially true for all the customer requests your business intelligence can predict a mile away.

Chatbot AI is a leap for CRM — but you already have the content for proactive CX

If you wonder how you’ll predict your customers’ needs, consider this: 63 percent of customer service calls concern basic questions like balance and transaction updates, according to new research from tech company CallVu.

Chances are good that 30 days after new, monthly recurring customers come onboard, they’ll have one question: How do I understand my bill? That can be tricky information to find — what do they search for, and how do you program a chatbot website to answer? Relay offers a new model. Instead of waiting, you can proactively send an SMS notification that takes users directly to personalized, actionable information on how to read their bill.

Another example we see often at Relay is managing customer moves for cable companies. The process brings up a number of questions: Do I take my current box with me? How do I re-install? When will the service technician arrive? Hunting down these answers by phone or sorting through community forums can leave customers feeling completely dissatisfied.

Companies that use Relay are able to send customers proactive service messages at every step of the process — order confirmations, shipping notifications, self-install kits, “how-to” videos, technician appointment reminders and more. The timely, mobile messages keep customers from having to call in, and eliminate the confusion that leads to frustration.

Taking a proactive approach to CX works. Relay customers have seen double-digit percentage gains in retention and Net Promoter Scores (NPS). It works because users get answers before they get frustrated. You don’t need to go through the process of building a custom chatbot application to respond to their questions. You can create new mobile experiences in a matter of minutes, without writing a line of code or relying on your technology resources.

CRM chatbots help customers feel heard – but relevant, in-the-moment engagements make them feel understood

By definition, self-service tools like chatbots can only handle inquiries after customers reach out. That’s great for making a customer feel seen, heard, and respected. But it doesn’t do so much to help a company initiate engagements, no matter how helpful they may be.

Take one of our clients in retail energy. The company has tens of thousands of customers in the Houston area. So when Hurricane Harvey hit, it became inundated with phone calls. As they triaged, they realized that most of the outreach boiled down to two concerns: How can I get my power back on, and how do I make sure I don’t miss my bill?

With Relay, the energy company could automate the delivery of two proactive communications. One went out within a day, messaging 40,000 customers in the area with personalized support kits, including targeted information on how to reach out to their utility providers to reinstate service. The other went out a week later, assuring customers their service wouldn’t be suspended if they missed their bill. The two messages gave customers the individualized support they needed, so they didn’t need to call in for an answer. That let the energy company save the call center for more complex conversations that needed to happen one-on-one.

There are so many moments during the customer lifecycle that could benefit from your business reaching out with educational or transactional messages — whether it’s about new customer onboarding, product usage, ongoing servicing, or renewals. To do it, you need a tool that can proactively start a conversation, automate engagement, and bring the customer to a point of resolution.

Smart integrations mean chatbots, Relay and CRM tools can work even better, together

As customer experience becomes ever more important for retention, businesses will have to move from a come-and-get it model to anticipating customer needs and delivering solutions.

It may sound like a big shift, but, in truth, the pieces are already there. All the FAQs, the help manuals, the CRM chatbot scripts, the video tutorials, the call center logs — most companies already have the information customers need. It’s just that customers have to work to get it.

When a Philadelphia-based health insurer started reaching out to members proactively with Relay, it saw a 175 percent increase in people actually reviewing their plan information. That information lived in the member portal and in a native app, but members weren’t getting to it. That’s not a surprise – the majority of U.S. consumers don’t download apps. Integrating Relay delivered the tools the insurer already had as easy-to-access individualized mobile experiences, maximizing their effectiveness.

With customer churn always just a click away, it’s never been more important to solve problems before they happen. Net Promoter Scores for B2C service providers are on the whole abysmal, at a time when people have more choice than ever. To gain control over the customer experience, you need to meet customers at all stages: Before they’re questioning, when they’re searching, and after they reach out. A holistic CRM strategy that pairs self-service with guided service is an opportunity to change the perception. The No. 1 way to earn brand loyalty is to make life easy. Businesses that don’t are putting customer relationships — and revenue — at risk.

Ready to move from a reactive customer experience model to a proactive one? Reach out to us for a demo.

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