Customer experience (CX) is an important part of any business, but it is especially important in the debt collection industry. When customers are struggling to repay their debts, they are often feeling vulnerable and stressed, so a positive CX can help to reduce these negative emotions and make the debt collection process more bearable for both the customer and the agent that’s helping them.
The truth is, customers nowadays are accustomed to receiving quick and convenient online service, and if a company doesn’t provide it, their customers will grow frustrated and abandon the process.
In this blog, we’ll look at the role of AI chatbots in delivering customer service and how well thought-out and carefully considered chatbot design makes all the difference.
The ultimate aim of any customer interaction is quick and successful query resolution - and doing that as cost-effectively as possible. If this is achieved, it is inevitable that the customer will be satisfied too, particularly is they feel respected and fairly treated.
Proper design is the key ingredient to excellent customer experiences with chatbots.
Before we delve into what makes for good chatbot design, let’s look at what turns people off chatbots.
Things that annoy people about poorly designed chatbots
With the developments in conversational AI technology and the emergence of LLMs and generative AI (See: What is the Difference Between Generative AI and Conversational AI? And How LLMs and NLU Can Work Together in AI Chatbots) chatbots are no longer mere ‘Click for Yes’ or simple FAQ-answering bots. They have become virtual intelligent assistants that interact with you in a conversation to help resolve your query or process your transaction.
To start off with, chatbots should be designed based on thorough customer research to understand common queries and pain points which are fundamental to how the conversation flow is set up.
Conversation Flow Founded on Intent Recognition and Triage
Conversational AI uses Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to recognise intents. NLU uses its training to associate certain words and phrases with intents, which are what a person is really saying or trying to do. It then matches these intents with a course of action, i.e. triaging the conversation down the best route for resolution.
For example, a customer might say, “I can pay off my account now” which the NLU will label as an intent to pay and could then send the customer to a payment portal.
By getting intent recognition and route matching right, you create a friction-free process which greatly enhances customer experience.
Always Provide an Off-Ramp to Speak to an Agent
There’s nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a conversation with a bot that can’t help you. At every point in the conversation there should be an option for the customer to speak to a human agent and that hand-over should be graceful with all the conversation history visible to the agent to pick up.
Also, a chatbot should be taught to admit if they can’t answer a query and then pass the person over to an agent to complete the query before the customer gives up in annoyance.
Language and Tone
Designing a chatbot to use conversational language builds trust and a rapport with the customer and reduces their stress. Furthermore, customers feel more heard and understood if the language used is more ‘human’ and empathetic.
Chatbots should treat the customer with respect and dignity, regardless of their situation. Remember that customers who are struggling to repay their debts are often going through a difficult time, so teach chatbots to engage with courtesy and understanding.
Another important point is to communicate clearly to prevent misunderstandings. Also, avoid using jargon or technical terms that customers may not understand.
API connections into backend systems provide the chatbot with accurate and up to date customer data and history which is instantly available for the bot (or agent) to use - no more waiting while an agent looks up information. With this data on hand, chatbots/agents can shape messages to each customer's unique situation.
Once the chatbot has determined the customer’s intent and situation, it should respond according to that knowledge and not with a general cookie-cutter answer that fails to recognise what the customer is trying to accomplish.
Make it Easy for Customers
A user-friendly interface with clear directions delivers a clutter-free customer experience with fewer bumps in the road to navigate.
Offer self-service options which allow customers to control and manage their accounts themselves online without having to speak to an agent. Conversational AI chatbots can be on hand to guide customers through the self-service process (see: Webio’s Self-Service Studio). This could include options to set up payment plans, check balances or make payments.
With AI chatbots and automation, customers can perform transactions from within a digital conversation, such as making payments. This takes digital customer engagement to another level from the original simple question answering chatbots.
Make it simple for customers to contact you. If customers have questions or need assistance, hopping onto an instant conversation with a chatbot is an easy and effective option. This could be, for instance, through a webchat interface, Messenger or WhatsApp.
Design chatbots for efficiency, accuracy and speed, which are two of the main advantages of AI chatbots that customers appreciate. They can provide quick and helpful answers to queries, 24/7, without the customer having to wait on hold. This not only saves time for the customer but also boosts their overall experience.
And finally, implement regular updates and improvements based on customer feedback to help chatbots better meet the evolving needs of customers.
This video clip is taken from a Credit Shift News Update podcast with Webio’s Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Sweeney. Here Paul talks about research done by Forrester on chatbots, which emphasises:
- The importance of conversational design
- Intelligent routing using intents
- Embracing next-generation conversational AI
- Continuous evaluation for effective chatbot implementation
By following best practise when designing AI chatbots, businesses can create a digital customer experience that is convenient, informative, and supportive. In the end, this will forge good relationships with customers, which sees its fruit in the company’s results.
If you need to improve your customer engagement, talk to us and we'll show you how AI automation via digital messaging apps works.
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