8 Ways Chatbots Are Helping Businesses During COVID-19

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Contact-less service has become the go-to strategy for businesses and a coveted convenience for customers in this global pandemic. In fact, data by Forbes claims that 70% of millennials report having a ‘positive’ experience with chatbots. Plus, the MIT Tech Review claims that 90% of businesses experience faster complaint resolution with bots.

So why are chatbots entering the hall of fame? For starters, these intuitive bots can assist enterprises across industries and use cases—from assisting in remote work to adhering to social distancing norms, chatbots are redefining the way organizations operate and the way customers view customer service.

In this blog, we will deep-dive into how chatbots are aiding businesses in staying afloat and providing exceptional customer service—despite the world being in the thick of a global pandemic. Let’s jump right in.

Applications of Chatbots Across Industries and Use Cases

Chatbots For Healthcare

The other thing that people have been struggling with apart from the health scares that the virus poses is the ‘infodemic’ that seems to be spreading through false information on news channels, WhatsApp groups, social media platforms, and the like. To combat the issue of misinformation, the World Health Organization launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger:

This 24×7 chatbot aims to provide instant, real-time, and accurate information relating to COVID-19 through Facebook’s global reach of 2.6 billion users. What’s more, it offers multi-lingual support, allowing the bot to cater to a more global and universal audience:

One of the reasons why chatbots can become every healthcare provider’s lifeblood is that these intuitive and intelligent bots can provide accurate information right away, without letting the user wait – an advantage that’s indispensable, especially when queries might be related to one’s health. Some important questions that chatbots can address include:

  • Where can I get the COVID test done?
  • What do the initial symptoms of COVID look like?
  • How does the virus spread, and what preventive measures can I take? 
  • When should I get in touch with the doctor?

The chatbots can double up as a knowledge base and provide answers to these kinds of ‘Frequently Asked Questions,’ thereby making the customer experience seamless and effortless.

Furthermore, chatbots are being used for telemedicine and are being used as effective ‘self-assessment’ tools. Take, for instance – COBO, a COVID-19 Self-Assessment Chatbot – which asks readers a series of questions to gauge their risk of catching the virus:

The platform allows people to quickly and easily assess their health conditions and take the necessary precautions. To put it simply, chatbots made for telemedicine purposes can:

  • Review and track the health conditions of home patients
  • Provide a medical diagnosis to self-care patients
  • Alert the hospital/doctor for at-risk patients and provide SOS measures
  • Take off the workload of overburdened doctors by assisting them through triaging patients’ symptoms, offering medical analysis, etc.

Key takeaway: Healthcare chatbots are being used as screening tools to ease the load off of the healthcare workers. Plus, they are increasingly being used to spread awareness about precautionary measures and hygiene conditions relating to COVID-19. These 24×7 bots are extremely useful in providing real-time, updated information at the click of a button.

Chatbots For Mental, Emotional, And Physical Health 

The onset of the pandemic has got people talking about mental and emotional health and how they can tackle increased feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. In fact, as per a recent study, some of the most pressing mental health issues that have surfaced owing to COVID-19 are stress, anger, depression, insomnia, anxiety, denial, and fear. 

That said, the common sentiment is that mental health and technology don’t belong together, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. However, there are plenty of enterprises that are making use of chatbots to tackle serious issues—from workout and nutrition to meditation and mental health as well as mood tracking. Take Woebot for example:

This conversational bot uses AI to monitor the user’s mood and allows them to convey thoughts and emotions through therapeutically trained conversations. Interestingly, the bot boasts of 4.7 million message exchanges every week. Plus, it delivers an impressive 98.9% accuracy rate in detecting crisis language.

The biggest learning here is that chatbots are no longer being viewed as robotic tools incapable of ‘understanding’ human emotions. If trained well, they can personalize the experience and provide valuable information at the click of a button. Everyone wants customized, instant help, and AI-powered chatbots are coming to the user’s rescue:

Take a look at the following example where the chatbot doubles up as a virtual fitness coach, egging the user on to stay fit and complete workouts on time:

Notice how the bot asks a series of customized questions and captures user data so that it can offer relevant and tailor-made solutions and plans that are of real value for the user. Plus, these bots offer push notification and reminder functionalities that can be set at specific time intervals and sent to the user. This sense of increased personalization aids greater trust and confidence in the user and builds a positive brand image.

Key takeaway: The pandemic has served as an eye-opener for people to take mental and physical health seriously. More and more people are embracing healthcare apps and virtual chatbot health coaches to achieve their health goals, that too, from the comfort of their homes. 

Chatbots For eCommerce And Retailers

Even prior to the pandemic, the eCommerce industry was sold on the benefits of using a chatbot for online shopping to streamline the user’s experience and make it seamless. With the onset of the pandemic, Shopify CTO, Jean-Michel Lemieux claims that the company witnesses Black Friday level traffic….every single day. With so many users actively embracing online shopping, using chatbots is the next logical step. 

Research by Forrester claims that website visitors who end up using proactive chat are 2.8x more likely to convert than those that don’t.

In the eCommerce sector, chatbots are becoming essential to delivering convenient, effortless, and quick service. Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1: Say an eCommerce has had to make drastic changes to their operational philosophy, return policies, shipping costs, etc., and they need to communicate this information and keep their customers updated. Here’s where a chatbot can help:

With so many changes happening in real-time, you need a handy AI tool that captures and reflects updated information and ensures that your customer’s experience doesn’t get hampered. 

Scenario 2: Your customers are more global in nature and are browsing the site at “off-hours.” A chatbot can be used as a lead generation tool and capture valuable customer information such as name, email ID, contact number, among others. This information can be stored in the CRM and be made available to the live agent the next time they’re online so that they can follow up with the customer and address their queries:

Interestingly, the brand has also inserted an in-depth ‘FAQs’ section so that the customer can self-serve and find the answer themselves instead of waiting for an agent to come to their aid:

Scenario 3: Your customer has just logged onto the website and is wanting to repeat the previous order. The bot can search its in-built database and place the order on behalf of the customer at the click of a button:

Scenario 4: Sometimes, customers just want relevant product suggestions. This is where the bot can ask all the right questions and offer a hyper-personalized service to the users.

Key takeaway: eCommerce bots are helping out the customer service teams by taking on routine tasks and answering repetitive customer queries. Plus, these bots are providing personalized recommendations to customers and delivering a superior virtual experience – a win-win for all!

Chatbots For Food And Beverages Industry

While the food and beverages industry has been majorly hit, restaurants are adapting to the ‘new normal’ by converting their services to takeout only or changing their operative hours due to lesser staff. So how can a chatbot help in this regard?

Restaurants can use chatbots as virtual guides and feed it with all the ‘basic’ information such as changes in operational hours, preventive measures to avoid COVID, changes in the menu, and so on. 

Plus, they can also take over the basic services such as taking orders and assisting customers in experiencing a truly contact-less, seamless experience as Domino’s chatbot does:

Moreover, the automated bot can answer all the general queries so that your team’s workload doesn’t shoot up, and the team can focus on delivering superior customer service. In instances where a bot cannot assist customers, they can redirect the query to the restaurant staff as needed. Finally, chatbots can be used to gather real-time customer feedback about how their experience was so that you can make changes accordingly based on the invaluable insights the bot gathers and analyzes:

Key takeaway: One brilliant way in which restaurants have adapted to the COVID-19 changes is by rolling out ‘take-out’ deliveries instead of shutting up shop altogether. Chatbots such as the one shown above can help already under-staffed restaurants to tackle routine queries and tasks such as taking online orders, tracking deliveries, and enhancing the overall experience by making it quick and seamless. 

Chatbots For Hospitality

Another one of the worst-hit sectors, the Hospitality domain, too, is making use of chatbots to keep up its level of service with less staff on-ground. Some of the ways in which chatbots are helping include:

  • Automating and answering repetitive customer queries
  • Reassuring customers of the hotel’s hygiene protocols
  • Offering important information on the kind of services that are open (such as banquet, gym, swimming pool, etc.)
  • Allowing customers to self-serve and book online themselves
  • Capturing important guest information such as name, contact, and email ID so that no website visitor goes home without being ‘heard.’

Key takeaway: The Hospitality industry is also getting in on the chatbot trend to enhance their customer experience and keep the visitors informed of critical information such as facilities available, hygiene protocols in place, etc. The chatbots can work round-the-clock and cater to a more global audience – a must-have advantage for the Hotel industry.

Chatbots For Health Insurance And Virtual Appraisals

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is taking a toll on Insurance companies. Factors such as on-field appraisals and physical inspections for claims processing seem like a distant reality. 

This is where a chatbot can be used for driving virtual appraisals. How does it work? These bots can enable photo-based estimations seamless and quick claims processing without waiting for in-person visits.

For example, you can automate routine requests so that your human team’s time can be focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience. For example, a Policy Advisor chatbot can dish out details on the ‘right’ kind of insurance policy for the customers based on their choice and preferences.

Additionally, an Insurance Claims chatbot can accelerate and enhance the claims submission process.

Insurance chatbots can act as on-demand advisors, counseling customers on the best plans available and guiding them through the entire insurance buying process while making it seamless, intuitive, and painless.

Key takeaway: With rising hospital admissions due to COVID-19, the insurance claim requests are also stacking up. This is where AI-led chatbots can take off the team’s workload and address basic queries while routing the more complex requests to the live agents.

Chatbots For Remote Working

The pandemic has accelerated the shift to remote working by light-years. Once, an actively looked down upon concept, ‘remote work’ came to the rescue for big corporations and small startups alike.

However, this fundamental shift in the way we work brought with itself a host of challenges-starting with inadequate communication infrastructure, the absence of productivity tools, the lack of appropriate knowledge on the next steps, and so on. There are two teams in particular that have borne the brunt and worked round-the-clock to offer seamless support to employees – the IT and the HR teams. 

Both these teams can greatly benefit by deploying a centralized chatbot tool in the organization’s primary communication channels such as Slack, etc. The end-goal is to deliver instant answers to employee questions and carry out simple yet significant functions such as password resets, notifications, etc., which are specialties of using an intuitive bot.

For the HR team as well, chatbots can literally take over a host of important functionalities, such as :

  • Answering time-sensitive questions on important issues such as leave requests, work-from-home guidelines, employee policies, salaries, etc.
  • Outlining guidelines on topics such as workplace hygiene and safety, rules, employee pulse surveys, and regulations for when offices resume, among others.
  • Recruiting talent as well as driving virtual employee orientation and onboarding, to name a few.

Key takeaway: Most organizations are making use of chatbots to keep their teams updated on critical issues such as sick leaves, office reopening schedule, workplace safety, etc. Chatbots serve as an effective knowledge base by keeping the employees updated and in the loop without giving rise to chaos or confusion.

Finance And Banking

As mentioned earlier, the demand for self-service options are rising, thanks to COVID-19 and the Banking sector is no different. According to data, most financial institutions are reporting a 50% boost in overall chatbot usage!

The same report claims that SilverCloud’s banking chatbot has reportedly fulfilled more than 260,000 consumer requests in Q2 of 2020! 

Chatbots designed specifically for Banking purpose can drive guided customer conversations and offer answers to frequently asked questions (such as inquiring about account balance, bank statements, how to transfer funds, etc.):

If trained well, these bots can also assist in more complex requests, such as applying for a loan or opening a new bank account. Moreover, these bots can proactively roll out alerts, provide savings tips, and even make customized product recommendations, delivering a 360-degree financial service. 

Key takeaway: In times of social distancing, banking chatbots are leading the way for a more personalized form of banking and improving the way customers engage with financial institutions. The transactions and query resolution are becoming instant, seamless, and effortless, thanks to AI-powered chatbots.

Closing Thoughts: Chatbots Are Ideal For High-Efficiency, Intuitive Interactions

There is absolutely no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated and intensified the use of chatbot technology across industries and domains, as we saw above. In fact, reports by IBM claims that it witnessed a “40% spike in traffic to its conversational AI platform Watson Assistant, between February and April.”

Even companies like Google have set up a ‘rapid response virtual agent’ tool to allow customers to respond to questions relating to COVID-19 through chat, voice, and social channels. Clearly, this increased chatbot adoption points towards its brighter, better future. And with so many benefits that this technology poses, this (up)trend is hardly surprising. What do you think?

Author’s Bio:
Srushti Shah is an ambitious, passionate and out of the box thinking woman having vast exposure in Digital Marketing. She is working as a Digital Marketer and Content writer at Acquire.  Other than work, she loves traveling, exploring new things and spending quality time with family. Reach out to Srushti Shah on Twitter or LinkedIn.

1 thought on “8 Ways Chatbots Are Helping Businesses During COVID-19”

  1. Hello! Thank you for such an informative and really helpful article considering what time we live in now. I totally agree that the future is behind the chatbots. Considering the speed with which artificial intelligence is developing, it is likely that chatbots will replace many things that are familiar to us. After all, before, in order to find out any information, we went to the library, but now everything that needs to be found in five minutes on google, and now we cannot even imagine life without the Internet.

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