Chatbots in customer service

Design of an introduction concept for chatbots in B2B customer service for SMEs in the mechanical engineering sector

Service as a business component offers companies in the mechanical engineering sector attractive margins and turnover potentials – of over 40 percent in some cases. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), however, have not yet fully tapped into these potentials.

Chatbots are one way to increase profitability through a more productive service process while also improving service quality. Chatbots are computer-based systems that can autonomously engage in a natural, text-based dialogue with the customer/user.

The chatbot’s unrestricted and immediate availability to the customer makes it a valuable service feature. The use of chatbots thus greatly increases responsiveness, which is currently considered too low by almost 90 percent of customers. Chatbots can therefore have a positive influence on customer satisfaction and loyalty. In addition, the faster and more targeted interaction with chatbots in the respective national language can greatly support the companies in offering their service internationally, which is increasingly necessary in the course of globalisation.

While chatbots are already proving successful in B2C customer service today, they are – despite their considerable potential – still underutilised in B2B customer service. This is owed to challenges with internal implementation capability on the one hand and the external customer perspective on the other.

The research project "Chatbots in customer service" addresses these hurdles by developing a web-based implementation guide. The aim is to enable companies and especially SMEs to successfully integrate chatbots in their B2B customer service. In an initial step, the research project seeks to identify beneficial application scenarios and conduct a provider and technology screening. The team will then deduce organisation- and data-based requirements of chatbots and establish a range of implementation measures. The project will also look into factors to increase the acceptance of chatbots and quantify their utilisation potentials in order to ensure efficient and effective customer service. The preceding results will be validated and transferred into a visually appealing and practicable introduction guide.

Cooperation partner: Institute for Industrial Management FIR e. V. at RWTH Aachen University

Funding body: The IGF project 21771 BG "Design of an implementation concept for chatbots in B2B customer service for SMEs in the mechanical engineering sector" of the Research Association FIR e. V. at RWTH Aachen University is funded through the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) via the programme to promote joint industrial research (IGF) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) based on a decision by the German Bundestag.

Project period: May 2021 - April 2023