Businesses across all industries are adopting artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots in a big way. Using machine learning and AI algorithms, these bots interact with customers via a live chat window or messaging platform on the business’ website. They’re able to perform many customer service functions, such as answering basic questions or helping customers find the information they seek, and they are trained to provide responses that mimic the customer experience of chatting with a live representative.

Analysts forecast the global chatbot market to grow by nearly 25% over the next four years, and a survey of more than 800 business leaders conducted by Oracle showed that 80% are already using or plan to start using chatbots for sales, marketing or customer service by 2020. It’s no wonder why: chatbots can help businesses save money while still providing an excellent customer experience. With their advanced machine learning, natural language processing skills and AI, chatbots can help customers with common and recurring tasks, while reducing operational costs in call and contact centers. According to Juniper Research, businesses using chatbots could save $8 billion per year by 2022 in the banking and healthcare industries alone. The cost savings are dramatic and the chatbot channel is fast becoming one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to interact with customers at scale.

Yet, despite this rapid adoption, most organizations are still not using chatbots to their full potential by enabling purchases and payments through the channel. Chatbots are capable of being much more than simply a cost saver – businesses should look to use them as a driver of new revenue and way to increase sales. With the right tools and technologies, businesses can enable secure payments through the chat channel while at the same time easing compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and providing a superior customer experience.

The Rise of Chatbots

Consumer desire to conduct payments and purchases through digital channels like online chat, instant messaging platforms and social media is growing. In today’s on-demand, digitally connected culture, customers expect the ability to quickly and easily conduct any transaction through any channel they choose. Moreover, they expect a seamless and frictionless experience across all channels.

Yet, concerns around security and compliance are holding many organizations back from meeting these expectations. For example, some businesses limit customers’ ability to perform certain transactions through the chat channel – particularly transactions like purchases and payments, which involve sharing sensitive data and personally identifiable information (PII). But in today’s day and age those organizations that do not provide a seamless experience across all channels risk losing their customers’ loyalty. More importantly, they miss out on potential sales and revenue opportunities. While chatbots have become a surging source of customer interaction and have been widely embraced for the customer engagement opportunities they enable, the opportunity to accept payments through chatbots has, to date, remained limited.

> Download Now: Guide to Embracing an Omnichannel Payment Strategy

Securing Payments Through the Chatbot Channel

Security concerns and regulatory compliance requirements can be two of the biggest challenges holding organizations back from accepting payments through chatbots, but new technologies make it possible to securely enable payments through the channel in a way that makes compliance easy.

Semafone’s Cardprotect Relay+ enables businesses to leverage the fast-growing chatbot channel for increased revenue by enabling customers to make purchases and payments directly in the channel. As a cloud-based solution, Cardprotect Relay+ is easy to deploy, highly configurable and infrastructure-agnostic, making it easy to integrate with third-party applications and chatbot platforms of any kind. Leveraging Cardprotect Relay+, the chatbot is able to generate a secure digital payment hyperlink on demand, which it can send to the customer through the chat window whenever a payment or purchasing opportunity presents itself. The customer simply clicks or taps the link when they receive it  and enters their payment details. The customer’s payment details and other sensitive PII is encrypted and securely routed directly to the payment service provider (PSP). None of their sensitive data ever touches the chatbot software or the organization’s network infrastructure, creating a completely secure payment process.

In addition to being secure, Cardprotect Relay+ provides the added benefit of real-time progress updates, keeping the business informed on where the customer is at in their purchasing journey. While the customer is inputting their payment data, Cardprotect Relay+ relays real-time updates to the business, indicating when the customer has opened the link, when they have begun filling in their card numbers, and when payment has been approved by the payment processor. If the customer has trouble at any point in the process, the chatbot can see this and offer help, leading to increased conversion rates and an improved customer experience.

Easing PCI DSS Compliance

Not only does Cardprotect Relay+ ensure secure payments through the chatbot channel, it can also help significantly ease the cost and complexity of complying with industry standards like PCI DSS and data security regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Because customers’ sensitive payment card data and other PII is kept out of the network infrastructure and never touches the chatbot platform, businesses are able to keep the chat channel out of the scope of compliance for these regulations, thus dramatically reducing the cost and complexity of meeting and maintaining compliance.

Download Now: Guide to Embracing an Omnichannel Payments Strategy

Providing a Superior Customer Experience

In today’s increasingly competitive business landscape, delivering an exceptional customer experience is essential. In a recent survey of more than 8,000 consumers, an overwhelming majority (81%) reported having a disconnected experience when contacting an organization for sales or customer service needs. Specifically pertaining to chatbots, many respondents reported that the chatbot was unable to resolve their query and they were instructed to call a customer service representative or were directed to a web form instead. When customers are sent out of channel to complete a transaction, they are more likely to drop out of the process completely and businesses lose out on sales revenue. However, by deploying Cardprotect Relay+ for digital channels along with our flagship Cardprotect Voice+ solution for the telephone channel, businesses can deliver a unified payments solution across all channels, providing a positive and seamless user experience no matter which channel or device the customer chooses to use.

By leveraging the right technologies and tools, businesses can use the fast-growing chatbot channel to its full potential, creating a frictionless and secure, omnichannel customer experience that increases sales conversion rates and revenue, all while simplifying PCI DSS compliance.

How the Rise of Chatbots  is Transforming Customer Experience & Payments

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