How Can Chatbots Positively Impact a Business’s Supply Chain?


If there’s one aspect of customer service that has seen significant changes over the last few years it’s how customers and businesses interact with each other. On the technological front, chatbots have made a significant impact on how companies communicate, but also how it’s affected the supply chain.

Businesses that are considering incorporating chatbots for the sake of streamlining their operations can also see a positive effect on the overall operations, including efficiency in the supply chain. But how can chatbots have a positive effect on this aspect?

Proactive Issue Resolutions

Adding chatbot software can instantly automate a number of aspects of your business. Chatbots form a much larger part of the bigger picture of businesses these days, especially with regard to the supply chain. A chatbot has the ability to identify potential issues within the supply chain through customer complaints and can therefore alert relevant teams to these issues prior to escalation.

When problems escalate, they inevitably cause issues for the business, and this is why a chatbot can be an invaluable assistant. A chatbot is a tool that, with the power of AI, can detect discrepancies in inventory levels and alert warehouse managers to potential problems.

Streamlined Communication Approaches

Communication is critical in every aspect of a business, whether it’s via customers, stakeholders, and suppliers. A chatbot is able to deal with routine inquiries and this means that there is a greater distribution of duties between human and digital resources.

The human component of your team should be free to identify solutions to more complex tasks. One of the most common misconceptions about chatbots and any form of artificial intelligence is that you can train it to deal with a very complex degree of tasks. 

The best way to utilize chatbots is for the purposes of dealing with basic communication. In terms of the supply chain, status checks, order updates, and other routine inquiries allow the human counterpart to focus more on the day-to-day tasks that will make a bigger difference in the business.

It’s about making sure that we utilize a chatbot as an effective tool rather than something that is actually going to replace humans. There has been a great level of concern in relation to how AI and other machine learning tools will overtake human ability, but in the current climate, it is impossible for it to replicate human skill.

Quicker Response Times  

If there’s one great benefit of having a chatbot, it is the fact that you appear available 24/7. It’s vital in the modern world that we are showcasing how our business can resolve queries instantly at any time of day or night. In relation to the supply chain, any supplier query or indeed customer issue that comes via a chatbot can improve the overall supply chain responsiveness, increasing efficiency and reducing delays. 

When we are quicker in our response times to queries, we are not just speeding up the processes, but we are improving the overall business perception. Customer service can be a thankless task, and when businesses do not give their customer service teams the tools they need, this can slow down the entire process. It’s critical to remember that like building relationships with supply chains, we must also build relationships with customers. Therefore, if we can reduce response times, this will invariably create a better business perception.

The Order Tracking and Processing  

A chatbot is a great assistive tool for customers, and when we are looking for support in placing orders, tracking shipments, or finding out delivery times, there is a reduced need for manual intervention. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the development of supply chain management software.

Supply chain management can help with inventory levels and alert teams when stocks are running low, which can guarantee a smoother supply chain operation. The whole process of order tracking can be automated with the assistance of chatbots. 

We need to remember that a chatbot should make our role easier, and this helps human workers to do their jobs better because they will have fewer things to focus on. Any customer service assistant or business owner has to be proactive when it comes to monitoring stocks and orders, and therefore a chatbot in the context of assistive technology will make things far more effective in the long run.

The Personalized Experience

A chatbot can learn from its data. Not every chatbot is able to do this, but advanced chatbots have the power to utilize customer information to provide personalized recommendations and tailored solutions. When we are looking at this approach through the prism of the supply chain, we have to remember that communicating with customers or clients in a transparent way is critical, and this means we’ve got to go one step further to add that personal touch to the relationships we foster

As beneficial as chatbots can be to streamline the communication between supplier and business, offering that personalized approach goes one step further, and this will enhance customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and it will also make for a far better relationship in the long run. Stimulating long-term relationships is not just about giving them what they want in the here and now, but it’s about that ongoing consistent communication.

Therefore, if you incorporate personalized touches and generally use your communication methods as a way to become far more personable, these little things go a long way. This is where tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software can help to go that extra step. When we use chatbots and other project management software to use customer data, we are saying to ourselves that we can go one step further for the sake of the customer, and this will always pay dividends.

Greater Accuracy

A chatbot is a great guide for everybody. When we use a chatbot to assist ourselves and customers in a number of ways, this will increase efficiency across the board. A chatbot can minimize errors in orders by holding a customer’s hand through the ordering process, ensuring that everything is accurate.

Additionally, a chatbot can assist with the vendor management side of the equation, resulting in a far more efficient strategy. In terms of supplier selection or performance evaluation, as well as other vendor criteria, having that greater accuracy the first time around means that you become a far more efficient organization because you are greatly reducing the likelihood of human error. 

It’s not impossible to remove human error from the equation, but you can certainly make everything far more streamlined by having the right tools on your side. So many organizations are using chatbots and other associated chatbot-type tools to give them a greater sense of accuracy.

Of the many AI tools that have been unveiled over the last few months, ChatGPT has shone head and shoulders above the rest; it is one of those tools that everybody is talking about, and for good reason. If you are looking to not just do things quicker but also get inspiration, you can use chatbots and AI tools to provide you with different ways of doing things. 

We can become easily ingrained in one approach to working, and this means that if we stick to one process, we will never know what our capabilities could be, especially when we’re talking about efficiency and accuracy. Chatbots are great personalized assistants for this very reason.

Their Impact on the Bottom Line

Chatbots are fantastic tools because they have the ability to streamline a number of functions. Chatbots can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, which means that businesses can manage demand during peak times without having to increase their staff numbers.

Because a chatbot is built to automate a number of routine tasks, this allows companies to reduce overall labor costs, improve efficiency within supply chains and other areas, and save money while also being armed with an option to scale the business. 

Scaling business operations can be a challenge for companies that don’t necessarily understand where they can boost their capabilities beyond hiring extra workers. A chatbot is that AI tool that so many organizations are trying out for the sake of saving money but also increasing their ambitions.  

Final Thoughts

A chatbot can do a lot for a company and its supply chain. Chatbots can be a great tool, but it’s vital to remember that a chatbot is not going to completely take over the operation, although it is a tool that we can certainly use to our advantage. If you are looking for a way to improve your operations through customer service, supply chain efficiency, and improve your bottom line at the same time, there is no underestimating the positive effects of human intervention. 

As businesses expand their scope, they invariably need to diversify their approaches to either customer retention or improving relationships. The supply chain relationship is ultimately a human one, and we can’t ever forget this, but a chatbot and any other AI systems can over time allow us to do our jobs better as well as work far more effectively.

Article and permission to publish here provided by FATJOE Marketing. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on July 20, 2023.

Cover image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

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