Chatbots: Are They Worth the Hype?
Recently, chatbots have been getting a lot of hype in the tech and business worlds as the next big innovation for customer service, but are they worth the hype? There’s no denying that chatbots can help improve service, but how much are they better than human customer service representatives?
Do chatbots really deliver on their promises to reduce costs and improve results? As your business continues to grow and manage customers across multiple channels, chatbots can be a useful tool to assist your customer service team. Here’s what you need to know about them before deciding to integrate them into your company.
As customers are getting more and more tech-savvy, companies have little choice but to embrace new technology in customer services. Chatbots present an opportunity for businesses to deliver a customised customer experience far beyond what human agents can achieve now. These automated assistants can respond quickly to queries with the aid of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques. They are also available 24/7, from the comfort of customers’ homes. This is much more difficult to achieve using human customer service as it would require rotating teams that would be more complicated to manage as well.
2. Help optimise resources
Chatbots are designed to interact with customers, answer questions and resolve problems. They also send automatic responses when customers don’t respond. This is great for companies because it allows them to focus on other areas of their business instead of scheduling human teams to work throughout the day. A chatbot can assist you if you receive hundreds or thousands of consumer inquiries that are generally simple to react to. A chatbot has no limit on the number of customers it can serve, allowing your customer care team to focus on more complex inquiries.
3. Data collection
Chatbots enable companies to gather loads of valuable customer data which can help them improve their products and services. Chatbots are a huge help for businesses! The more data they have, the more companies can make better decisions about future products and services that will significantly benefit customers.
Chatbots are an exciting new development in the world of customer service, but with their rise has also come several potential issues that should be considered before adopting them. As with any business tool, chatbots are better suited to some situations than others. Here are 5 aspects of chatbots you may want to review before adopting them — or not.
Chatbots are not human and so they can’t interact as a human with customers. They sound too mechanical and can only give answers to problems that have been programmed into them. They can’t answer customers according to context or show any emotions if needed. When a customer reaches a dead end and their frustration has grown, empathy is all they need to reset the dials. Even so, as years go by AI may surpass the human brain but never the psychological aspect of people.
2. Don’t understand natural language
Most bots don't understand conversational language and so when customers speak in an informal tone, it confuses them. This is both disturbing and annoying, because although customers might be trying to make their experience smoother, instead they are greeted with an automated response. A simple solution would be for bots to use NLP, or natural language processing, which would enable them to understand plain English queries. However, this solution might not work for countries with multiple native languages and slang. The current chatbot technology isn’t able to process these complicated communications.
3. Can handle easy tasks
Chatbots are programmed to respond to general questions with answers that can be found in their database, so if a customer asks a question that isn't on that list, the bot will most likely be confused and will either go around in circles trying to understand the question (often to no avail) or will be left without an answer. This isn't a pleasant customer experience in any instance, and it can harm your company's reputation.
4. Constant maintenance
Another potential pitfall of chatbots is they require frequent optimisation and updates to keep up with changes in products or services as well as new industry trends. When a company relies on AI, they’re relinquishing control over customer experience to a computer program and hoping it’s always operating at peak performance. But what happens when things go wrong? It's one thing if you make a typo in an email response to a customer; but if your bot misinforms customers because of outdated information, you can expect negative reviews to start rolling in. What would be the solution? To overcome this, human input from people who are constantly monitoring every interaction between customers and bots—and then making necessary tweaks—companies can guarantee their bot will respond accurately no matter how complex their product or service is.
5. High installation cost
The chatbot needs to be programmed differently for each business, increasing the initial cost of setup. When deciding whether a chatbot would benefit your company and improve customer experience, look at it from both a logistical and monetary perspective. If you have products or services that are easily explained by a bot, then going with one might be worth considering. But if your business is complicated and requires significant human input to make sure customers get what they need, then maybe a chatbot isn’t such a good idea after all. While a clever chatbot may save you
money on payroll, it will cost you a fortune. The technology necessary to build a robust,
customer-friendly bot is expensive and time-consuming to develop.
Chatbot technology represents a major step forward in achieving true multi-channel marketing. Chatbots can save time and money for companies but human involvement in customer service is still a necessity. While you’re able to use chatbot technologies to optimise resources, increase productivity and increase data collection, it’s undeniable that customer service is often best served by live agents. With that, human interaction plays an important role in fostering relationships with customers—relationships that can translate into long-term loyalty and brand advocacy.