With constant pressure to provide fast, friendly, personable service, will chat bots ever replace chatting live with a human being?
With the rise of the mobile, always-on consumer, it is easier than ever for customers to demand immediate responsiveness from brands. Companies are expected to deliver fast, reliable customer service across channels and are under pressure to incorporate new tools and processes to engage with customers wherever they are. Chat bots may be getting better, but they still can’t provide what humans can.
Fielding messages into traditional help desks has historically resulted in longer wait times and a disorganized messaging experience for support representatives. Enter chat bots. Chat bots assist in solving simple, quick-response needs, leaving more time for customer service representatives to focus on complex customer demands and high-touch interactions.
In recent years, bot-enhanced customer support use has increased. This is due in part to new technology that allows businesses to easily identify and resolve customer problems through messaging services. As bots continue to grow in popularity, experts speculate whether the automated technology has arrived or if it still has a long journey ahead. That debate will likely continue for years. However, here are a few things companies should keep in mind as they invest in bot-enhanced support.
Bots Are Improving
Chat bot development has changed a lot since the mid-2000s when virtual assistants in Live Chat were all the rage. Back then, customer questions were answered by pulling from a predetermined directory of responses. Naturally, these responses were oftentimes unhelpful and out of context. Studying those first bot interactions has led to advancements in intelligent technology, making way for developments in natural language understanding (NLU). NLU seeks to understand the intent behind questions.
Paired with advancements in artificial intelligence (A.I.), today’s technology is helping bots “think” rather than regurgitating pre-assigned answers. Furthermore, A.I. power tools such as “deep learning,” analyzes public customer information and helps customize bots providing a better customer service experience.
Twitter was one of the first platforms to embrace social messaging for business-to-consumer (B2C) communication. Now we’ve seen companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft open their platforms to chat bots and app developers. With the public showing signs of “app fatigue,” the hope is that chatbots will provide a gateway for brands seeking to engage customers on a more personal level. While the technology is far from perfect, these are exciting advancements in customer services.
Can Bots and Humans Work Together?
Currently, the ideal customer service offering combines the power of bots and humans. When a customer reaches a point of frustration, an automated response from a chat bot just won’t do. There are some situations that bots simply can’t fix. Businesses will have to choose the right use cases for automation and build in options for human operators to chime in when it’s sensible to do so.
Chat bots can “learn” from these experiences too. Human responses are essential in training bots to answer the “tougher” questions. Interactions between representatives and customers provide a loop of responses for bots to learn from. Over time, this knowledge will organically help to expand the bot’s capabilities.
Keep in mind that bots are still bots. Those with human-like personalities (e.g. Siri), while entertaining, can be downright frustrating if they deliver limited functionality. Leveraging bots as a means to enhance the customer experience could be the best way to manage customer expectations. But the key is designing a bot flow that gives customers the option to reach a real person when it becomes necessary.
All Bots Are Not Created Equal
When it comes to deploying the right chatbot for your business, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Companies have to ensure that the bots they integrate have the scale, technology, and intelligence to handle their specific tasks. Messaging is viewed as the customer communication channel of the future because it’s more immediate than email. For most consumers, it can be more convenient than calling a company. It’s still not preferred, however, over the human element enjoyed through live chat.
Today, customers require increasing levels of personalization. For some companies, this first stage of bot enhanced support has allowed them to reach customers where they are. Amex bot for Facebook Messenger lets consumers see real-time purchase alerts. This brings personalized and proactive support right to their devices, without the need of human “interference.” This phase of bot technology is certainly a step in the right direction. But there is still so much more to learn.
Business owners need to gain a better understanding of this rapidly changing technology. Then take advantage of it without forgetting about the benefits of providing the human element of live chat when needed.
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