How Chatbots Are Transforming the Customer Experience

Chatbots aren’t merely a replacement for your help desk. They’re fundamentally altering the way companies deliver the best customer experience.

There’s a common misconception that the only way brands utilize chatbots is for customer service. Perhaps this is because, historically, customer service has been its most ubiquitous use case. Brands have been utilizing chatbots to answer common customer queries, provide around-the-clock support, complete orders, and replace other customer-support tasks for some time.

But customer service is only one facet of chatbots and the larger Chat Marketing strategies they support. Chatbots are more than just virtual customer-service agents: they’re comprehensive customer experience tools that radically shift the way brands interact with customers. They automate and enhance marketing, sales, customer retention, user experience, and much more.

Considering 75% of companies said, in a 2016 study, that their top objective was to improve customer experience, it’s evident that CX is crucial to business success. And when it comes to customer experience, chatbots have the edge over every other channel.

Take the customer’s e-commerce sales journey. Typically, a potential customer would navigate through an ad to a brand’s landing page or enter through their website. That landing page or website would need to immediately resonate with the customer, so they’d be motivated to continue along their buying journey. But since the brand has no way of knowing what the customer wants, or where they are in their decision process, bounce rates from websites and landing pages are critically high.

But say the customer does indeed click through to the product page and becomes a genuine lead. Perhaps the brand offered them a compelling discount, or was able to reach them through generic messaging. The brand would then need to answer any questions the customer has quickly and efficiently, convince them that purchasing with their particular brand is the right choice over any other competitor, and retarget the 95%+ of people who leave their website without making a purchase.

And if the brand somehow, amid all this chaos, convinces a customer to make a purchase, they would then face the issue of continually re-engaging the customer after the sale to upsell and cross-sell them, or risk losing the customer’s repeat business and loyalty. But email and cookie-retargeting ads have perilously low conversion rates and are most often ignored by customers. In other words, in order for a lead to become a buyer and for a buyer to become a repeated and loyal customer, the stars would need to align in a semi-miraculous way.

In other words, in order for a lead to become a buyer and for a buyer to become a repeated and loyal customer, the stars would need to align in a semi-miraculous way.

Chatbots turn this entire arduous and convoluted process on its head. Instead of trying to guess what messaging might impact someone at a given time, a chatbot speaks to the person directly, so they can ask the person what they want and how they can help. Instead of throwing up generic messaging and hoping it sticks, chatbots are highly personalized, so they provide each customer with an experience that feels intimate and bespoke. They can suggest products that actually suit customers’ needs, offer promotions and other incentives at the optimal times, and respond to customer queries without disrupting the purchasing journey.

Furthermore, chatbots can predict and personalize the needs of customers after that first sale is complete. Since chatbots gather first-party data, they’re privy to personal information that can guide them to reach out to customers with the right follow-up at the right time. They can suggest new winter coats or gloves right before winter, or send restaurant recommendations once someone’s reserved a hotel. This hyper-customization helps people feel understood and valued, which inspires long-term loyalty and future sales.

Chatbots organize the haphazard, complex customer journey into a seamless, transparent cycle in which brands can engage with customers in a deeper, more impactful way than ever. What this means is that brands can offer the absolute optimal customer experience. And it pays off: according to recent research from PointSearch, 49% of consumers said they would shop at an e-commerce store that was supported by underlying AI, most often in the form of a chatbot, and 34% of consumers would spend more money in an AI-supported e-commerce environment.

Moreover, according to McKinsey, agile digital companies significantly outperform their competitors. That means chatbots can potentially have a major impact on a company’s bottom line.

Chatbots enable brands to create, curate, and manage their most captivated audience. They increase the value of every customer interaction by procuring first-party data and building lasting customer loyalty. That’s why it’s evident that chatbots are the best way to engage people and keep them engaged over the long term.

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