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Nov 20, 2019 9:02:00 AM

Customer service chatbots: dos & don’ts for eCommerce companies


Chatbots are the solution to a lot of the problems present in many customer service organisations. In particular, ecommerce companies have eagerly jumped on the chatbot bandwagon. 

It’s no surprise why; 80% of customer service requests can be automated and shoppers have a lot of questions. Chatbots can lend a helping hand around the clock. 


On top of that, customer service chatbots can significantly reduce the menial, repetitive questions that land in your ticket queues -  liberating time for your service team to do their best work with individual customers who cannot be helped by a bot. 


But what kind of problems can a chatbot truly solve? 


Here are our definitions of which questions your chatbot should take care of:


1. The repetitive questions


If the question is asked multiple times every day - it should go into your chatbot. For eCommerce companies, a classic example would be “How much is shipping?”. 

Crucially, your chatbot should also include the repetitive questions that your service team cannot give a satisfying answer for. For example, if customers are calling you to cancel their order after it has been shipped, they will be told they cannot do so. Even if the request is impossible, it is still something you are being asked often - therefore, the bot should be able to recognise and respond to customers with this request, perhaps by explaining your return policy. 


2. Simple questions:


If the question has a standard answer (e.g., which countries do you ship to) or can be answered by a quick search in your database (e.g., when will my order be delivered), then it belongs in your chatbot! Searches, manual inputs, and other information fetching tasks are all perfectly suited for a chatbot.


These tasks are often tedious for the service team - so instead of having your service agents manually check the order status, your chatbot can fetch this information - usually with just a name, email and the order number (or similar).


General rule of thumb: if it’s a couple of clicks away, the bot should do it ;) 


3. Questions which don't require empathy or judgement:


Bots and people bring out the best in each others - when working hand in hand. Bots are clear winners when it comes to answering repetitive questions in large volumes, but they obviously don’t feel empathy and can’t make judgement calls.  Your service team should always handle the sensitive or unusual cases. 


For example, if a customer didn’t receive their order in time for their son’s birthday. You definitely want to have someone from your service team solving that case - absolutely not a bot. 


4. Troubleshooting questions:


If you can narrow down to the root cause of a problem by asking a couple of questions - this is also a clear use case for a chatbot. 

The hardware industry has a lot of these kinds of issues, where the correct solution is identified with a series of questions: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”, “Can you see a flashing red light?”, “Is the battery empty?”, and so forth. Again, no humans needed here.


5. Questions which need specific information in order to be answered by a support agent:


Some customer service cases would generally require lengthy, multi-email exchanges with the service agents to gather the customer’s information. 


For example, say that an item was delivered damaged. A bot can ask basic questions before handing the ticket over to the service agent: collecting the order number, a picture of the damaged goods, the delivery address, and other important information from the customer. Bot-human collaboration at its best!


So you have the use cases, maybe you already have a bot - now what?


How to make the most of your customer service chatbots: dos & don’ts


Your customers come first, so how they experience the bot is the single most important factor to keep in mind. In the best case scenario, their service experience with your chatbot will either increase the likelihood of a sale, or strengthen the customer relationship you already have. In the worst case scenario, their experience with your chatbot will be unhelpful or impersonal, damaging the customer relationship. Here are some dos and don’ts to avoid the second scenario.



A classic mistake we’ve seen way too often, is to think of your chatbot like a FAQ or a help center. In practise, this means chatbots that present the user with extremely long blocks of texts. Big mistake! A chatbot is not an FAQ and should only provide short, precise, and straight-to-the-point answers. If the answer to the question needs to be lengthy (e.g., it requires checking a certain tutorial), it’s good practice to link to the FAQ solution from the chatbot. The rule of thumb: a chatbot should give a specific answer to a specific question.



Visualise! It’s definitely good practice to add gifs, pictures or other visual aids into your chatbot solutions. The old cliché of “a picture being worth a thousand words” also holds true here, and a gif or a screenshot can be extremely useful to your customers, for example to show a succession of steps that need to be completed.



Decide on a tone of voice and a personality for your chatbot.  Whether your chatbot speaks casually or formally, consistency is key. If you feel your chatbot lacks charisma (a.k.a. “good vibes”), use emojis to give a specific touch to the conversation between the user and the bot. Your bot is your first line of direct communication with your customers - make its voice match your brand!



Don’t try to “fool” your users by pretending they are talking to a real person. Call a bot a bot! You can of course give your bot a custom name and create an avatar for it, but your customers will figure out very quickly if you are trying to pass off your bot as a human. Make it clear that the interaction is with a bot and that you will hand them over to a human if needed. 



Don’t think that a chatbot is a “set it & forget it” solution. That’s not true for your FAQ and your website, so why would it be true for your chatbot? Just like everywhere else, the content in your chatbot needs to be accurate and updated regularly. Which leads us to the last point...



Make it a priority! Assign resources within your service team to look after your chatbot. In most cases, bot maintenance is low effort, so even busy service teams can plan for it. After all, a chatbot will keep cutting costs and ticket volumes, but only if it’s used by your customers. Considering the value a chatbot can bring to your service organisation, it’s undoubtedly worth the few hours of tweaking content and training new solutions. 


Read more on how Solvemate works with eCommerce businesses to improve Service experience & automate Customer Service




Lucille is a former Solvemate. Her mission is to make our customers happy and successful with their chatbots. A true Parisian, she loves wine, cheese and croissants, as well as extravagant hairstyles. Her jokes, told in a charming French accent, can light up a gloomy day. Lucille enjoys looking after the team by organising social events, as well as traveling around the world as part of her role.