Over the last few years, chatbots have been revolutionizing the e-commerce and customer relationship sector. With the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots have been able to help bridge the conversational gap between e-retailers and consumers and opened up new opportunities for businesses to interact with their customers more frequently and effectively. According to Research and Market, the chatbot market was worth $17.17 billion in 2020 and is forecast to reach a whopping $102.29 billion by 2026.
The evolution of chatbots towards a hybrid model
Chatbots allow companies to engage with consumers automatically via instant messaging applications. This interaction enables e-retailers to provide a 24-hour service, save time, and reduce operational costs. However, traditional chatbots cannot answer all your visitors' questions. Like any other AI-based technology, they have limits when the task or question is complex or requires empathy or emotion. The limits are not understanding the query and giving cheeky answers. The uncontrolled use of traditional chatbots causes real frustration for visitors. They do not receive relevant answers from the bot and increasingly struggle to contact customer service. According to a recent study, a third of consumers believe that traditional chatbots make it harder to access human support when needed, and 86% believe that chatbots should have an escalation option to support teams.
The benefits of hybrid chatbots
Chatbots are most effective when used in collaboration with customer support representatives, hence, the emergence of a new generation of chatbots— virtual agents. A virtual agent combines humans and technology in the conversational channel. The virtual agent automatically answers frequent and time-consuming questions and directs complex requests to a human support agent. If the virtual agent understands the customer's request, it can respond quickly and automatically. And if it does not understand the request, it redirects it to an advisor. Thanks to this synergy between humans and technology, customers are always happy, as they receive a quick and relevant answer to all their queries.
Virtual agents offer many advantages and opportunities for e-tailers :
Increased customer satisfaction
One of the major advantages of virtual agents is that they combine the performance of artificial intelligence with the expertise and empathy of humans within the same channel. This collaboration enables you to give prompt assistance to your customers whenever they need it and increases efficiency while maintaining high quality standards and thus increase customer satisfaction.
Increased conversion rate
Virtual agents have the ability to intervene and interact with the customer during all stages of the buying process. In the pre-sales stage, the virtual agent can pre-qualify the visitor's needs and then advise them or redirect them to your sales teams. This intervention will considerably improve your customer experience and, therefore, increase your sales and conversion rate. The virtual agent empowers support agents.
Support agent fulfillment
According to a recent Zendesk study, 68% of support agents are more satisfied when they deal with complex and high-value requests. It's hard to be fulfilled at work when you spend your day answering the same low-value questions, such as "where's my order?" and "what's your shipping cost?". Integrating a hybrid chatbot boosts the fulfillment of human agents at work.
An optimized, human-cantered customer experience
Unlike traditional bots, virtual agents optimize the customer experience without dehumanizing it. Today's consumers want to buy from brands that put human well-being at the center of their interests. They want to deal with two-way, authentic, and qualitative dialogues with brands. The virtual agent makes it possible to gain efficiency without dehumanizing the relationship between the customer and the brand.
To be successful in e-commerce, companies need to offer an optimal experience to their customers and build a strong relationship with them. To achieve this, companies can adopt a two-way conversational approach. A hybrid chatbot will enable companies to combine the best of both worlds, i.e., the efficiency of artificial intelligence combined with the expertise and empathy of humans. Integrating a hybrid chatbot on your website will allow you to ensure a quality service, impeccable accompaniment, and a personalized and human relationship with your customers.