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See the little chat box on the bottom right-hand corner of our website? You probably see these on most websites. 

And on most websites, that box is commandeered by a chatbot. Although a lot of the time that chatbot has the guise of a human. 

For this article’s fictional running example, we will choose a property management company called Land Barons. 

To add an entertainment factor to this article, we will make Land Barons a company that starts out almost comically incompetent and unethical (who among us has not had an unpleasant experience with a landlord at least once in their lifetime?), yet through the use of chatbots improves its practices because of the connection it affords with customers. 

Implementing the Chatbots

Before Land Barons implemented a chatbot across its email, social media, and website platforms, its office lobby was a revolving door of aggrieved tenants. 

Each person would enter, questioning why the vents haven’t received treatment for the mold, why they are facing exorbitant fees for renovations aimed at enhancing regular wear and tear, why Land Barons violate state housing laws and the lease terms they drafted at least once a month, and so on.

It got to the point where employee turnover in the office became so high, and the job so stressful that you would need to either love conflict or be so immune to the soul corrosion that comes with spouting lies and excuses in the attempt to justify unjust practices, to be able to come in day after day. 

So, upper management decides to implement chatbots that will field customer complaints. 

Chatbots Can Handle Customer Outreach

The chatbot exists for the sake of answering customer questions and handling complaints.

Part of this involves resolving whether someone violated the lease or not.

Here is just one example: Section 56 of Land Barons’ tenant agreements concerns the procedure for what to do in case the air conditioning unit shuts down. 

According to this section, the Land Barons maintenance team is supposed to come up, evaluate the air conditioning within a day of the shutdown.

But a tenant slides into Land Barons’ DMs on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

This tenant’s AC went kaput three weeks ago, with no visit to his apartment. He submitted several requests to fix it on the Land Barons app, where he is supposed to send such requests.

In this X message, he cites section 56, psychologically bracing for the impact of a truly bizarre counter-interpretation of section 56 on behalf of the landlord in an attempt to wriggle out of the responsibility.

Instead, the chatbot quickly responds, emphasizing the clear statement in section 56. It states, “barring any work-inhibiting emergency or similar circumstances, our maintenance team will evaluate the air conditioner within 24 hours of the request being made,” highlighting the lack of ambiguity.

Improving Customer Outreach

It turns out, this kind of thing starts happening all the time with customers messaging the chatbots. 

But when the tenants end up going into the office to further resolve issues such as unfair charges, unfixed AC’s and refrigerators, and the like, the human reps simply make excuses. 

So enough customers on X rally together, publicly sharing screenshots of their interactions with the chatbot, public pressure accumulates on the Land Barons. 

As a result, current residents do not renew their leases, barely any new residents come in, and all the while former residents are trading horror stories about the Land Barons on very public online platforms.

Profits begin to decline, compelling the Land Barons to take the right course of action, finally and consistently. And they all lived happily ever after. 

Participating In the Larger Discourse with Your Customer Base

Hopefully your business practices are more ethical than the Land Barons’. But the lesson here about the importance of customer outreach is a big one. 

Why should your business have an interest in taking on a larger role in customer outreach?

Because it is becoming less and less optional. 

When businesses are online, this makes them more open to customer engagement. 

This is not always a pleasant thing, of course. This opens your business up to a myriad of critiques and public disavowals of your products and services by unhappy customers. Whether they are right or wrong is besides the point—it can still stain your brand’s reputation if you do not open avenues for customer feedback. 

Implementing a chatbot can help you resolve issues quickly, as well as just handle general questions. 

The instant availability and adaptability of chatbots can help business owners give their customers the answers and solutions they need, helping brands succeed in the long run by developing a reputation for quick and comprehensive customer service.

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Guardian Owl Digital is dedicated to helping businesses everywhere learn about and implement A.I. 

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