Latest News  

TELUS International: Chatbots - The pros and cons of automated customer service

Learn what key factors to consider before introducing chatbots to your customer service strategy

2018-01-09 23:02:50

Key Takeaways


•The popularity of chatbots is increasing, but they often straddle a fine line between helpful tool and clunky distraction in the customer experience.
•While growing in sophistication, chatbots remain only as good as their programmers.
•Chatbots should be used as a supplement to human agents, not as a replacement.

"How may I help you today?"

Ten years ago, that message might have come from a human customer service agent on the other end of a phone line. Today, it could appear in a pop-up chat box as a consumer browses a website — and increasingly, that message might originate with a programmable chatbot.

Considered artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots are software that can be programmed to respond to people's queries. TechWorld characterizes the chatbot as "a user interface which can be plugged into a number of data sources via APIs so it can deliver information or services on demand, such as weather forecasts or breaking news."

Chatbots, however, have a distinct advantage: They let brands be — or at least appear to be — more proactive in addressing potential customer questions and concerns by acting as an integrated part of the shopping/browsing experience. The chatbot is right there, waiting to answer your questions, and then to connect you to a real person for more complex queries if necessary. There's no 1-800 number to dial, and there's no waiting on hold.

This is the promise of chatbots and the reason why companies are investing heavily in the technology. According to a recent MarketsandMarkets report, the smart advisors/chatbots market was estimated to be worth $703.3 million in 2016 and is projected to reach $3.2 billion by 2021 thanks to "the strong need to understand consumer behavior, adoption of cloud-based technology and proliferating demand of intelligent customer engagement."

Learning valuable chatbot lessons from Clippy


If chatbots feel familiar, that could be because of the pioneering paperclip known as Clippy, the pop-up users used to encounter when drafting a document in Microsoft Word. The frequency of the software interruptions, and the questionable helpfulness, turned Clippy into a symbol of derision. Still, Clippy lived 10 long years, from 1997 to 2007, before the software company decided to lay him to rest.

Even if his constant interruptions were annoying, Clippy did teach us a couple of valuable lessons — namely, that chatbots are there to serve customers, not the other way around. And, as Clippy demonstrated, the line between useful and disruptive, or supportive and stiff, can be difficult to straddle. Mastering that delicate balance, though, is vital to the success of chatbots.

The pros of chatbots as contact center assistants


For Gam Dias, a principal at bot-design firm 1080Bots.com, having chatbots answer customer questions can help ensure a satisfactory customer experience, while adding a "sizzle" that shows the brand is up on the latest consumer tech trends. As Dias notes, chatbots are a great way to clear easy-to-answer questions off the plates of customer service agents, so that they may focus on more complex queries.

For example, Dias points out that around the holiday period, upwards of 70 percent of inbound contact center customer service calls are simply order status inquiries. This is where chatbots can excel.

A chatbot could take an order number, cross-reference that order with delivery status and provide the customer with an answer within seconds — faster than any agent on the phone could act. "If an AI agent can help 25 percent of those customers, that's a huge savings for the retailer," Dias says. "For those customers who are helped, it means they haven't spent 15 minutes waiting on the phone for a status update."

Chatbots are only as good as they're programmed to be


Despite chatbots' promise, not everyone has jumped onto the bandwagon. Scott Sachs, customer service consultant and pres/ident of SJS Solutions, likens the chatbot revolution to the advent of automated voice systems back in the day. "Everyone thought [voice systems] would solve everything and they wouldn't need people," he says.

In fact, he continues, automated voice systems — and chatbots, by extension — have generated an unintended consequence: "The easier issues are cherry-picked out, creating a more challenging environment within the customer-service organization, so they're only getting the harder questions." That means a higher skill set is required for frontline agents.

Additionally, chatbots aren't all-knowing. They're only as good as the programmers make them, and they can't pivot as easily as a person can. Call a customer service desk, ask for a coat in the color lilac and an employee will likely direct you to a purple jacket. Tell a chatbot you want something lilac, and unless the company specifically programmed that bot to equate "lilac" with a light-purple product, the chatbot could come up empty — even if a light-purple coat exists. Your business has lost the sale, and the customer feels frustrated.
Some snafus in the past couple of years have also given chatbots a bad rap. In 2016, Microsoft's Tay bot was swiftly baited by Twitter users into spewing hateful commentary. "It took less than 24 hours for Twitter to corrupt an innocent AI chatbot," wrote the Vergein the future.

How chatbots are helping brands right now


Although chatbot technology has yet to be perfected, brands are still taking this moment in time to experiment with, and optimize the technology.

Airbnb has utilized Amazon's voice assistant Alexa as a tool to help welcome guests and teach them about the area. Third-party developers, meanwhile, have been working on easing communication between hosts and renters by developing chatbots that can respond to basic vacation queries on behalf of the hosts, according to VentureBeat. The bots automate answers to commonly asked questions such as, "does this listing have a dishwasher?" and "where is the closest subway station?" These are easy enough to program, and can save hosts time.

Elsewhere, makeup brand Estée Lauder has a chatbot within Facebook Messenger that used facial-recognition software to help users pick the right shade of foundation. The service has drawbacks, though: A simple query matching skin tone to available products seemed to work, but the chatbot couldn't answer any additional questions.

The beauty of bots, though, is their ability to merge automated AI help with real, live humans. For instance, a customer service agent could take over from a bot if questions get too complex, or if the client has a high-value shopping cart in the works. This can happen seamlessly without further action from the customer. It's in moments like these where bots show their true potential — not as replacements for humans, but as great assistants.


Keep up-to-date with the latest thinking about BPO, ITO and Contact Center solutions. Each week, TELUS International, a global provider of contact center outsourcing and BPO solutions, shares insights on the latest customer service trends.
Related articles: https://www.telusinternational.com/


0 COMMENTS ^ Go back to Top
WRITE A COMMENT ^ Go back to Top
 
Your email address will not be published.
Nickname
Email
Comment
Validation Code
   
 
 
NEWS
Veeam marks record growth in 2018 to almost 1 billion Euro worth turnover

VeeamSoftware, the leader in intelligent data management for Hyper-Available Enterprise , marks the 39th consecutive quarter of growth , 21 per cent more than last year. Overall, the financial performance for 2

 Read Full article »
Atos ranked in Top Five for Managed Security Services, Worldwide by Gartner

Atos, a global leader in digital transformation today announces that it has been ranked amongst the top 5 global players in Managed Security Services (MSS) in terms of 2017 market share revenue, according to th

 Read Full article »
Endava has been selected as an official AWS Well-Architected partner

Further strengthening its partnership with Amazon Web Services, Endava reinforces its Cloud services expertise and capabilities becoming an AWS Well-Architected Partner, the company announced.

 Read Full article »
Smartree Romania has a new operational director

Smartree Romania, providing HR services on the Romanian market names Anamaria Borza as the new operational director of the company, effective July, 1 this year. The new manager of Smartree team occupied the pos

 Read Full article »
ABSL Romania: Sibiu, a continuously evolving market, with great potential

Sibiu is a market with huge potential and constantly expanding, is one of the conclusions from "Outsourcing in 2018. Best Practices in Technology Adoption" conference, which was dedicated to the local business

 Read Full article »
Accenture assigns 200 mln. US dollars to digital age-focused education, training and skills initiatives in the next 3 years

Supporting its vision to improve the way the world works and lives, Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is committing more than 200 million US dollars over the next three years to help equip people around the world with job

 Read Full article »
Oracle: Customer connection missing as manufacturers yet to produce rewards from industry 4.0

Research of global manufacturers developed by Oracle with research company Coleman Parkes shows initial Industry 4.0 focus has been on internal changes rather than removing supplier, distributor and customer si

 Read Full article »
Nine solutions for smart cities delivered at Code4Cluj hackathon of Endava

The Code4Cluj hackathon organized by Endava at Cluj-Napoca between 18-20th of May generated 9 innovative projects meant to solve the problems faced by the community and citizens of Cluj.

 Read Full article »
Zitec's digital marketing division registered an increase of over 40 per cent last year

Zitec, a major provider of business solutions, digital services and personalized technology products in Romania, announced it registered an increase of over 40 per cent in the digital marketing segment in 2017,

 Read Full article »
Fab Lab Iasi issues the Report on Coworking in Central and Eastern Europe

This report was conducted by the PIN Maps teams (Iasi's modern office map, an impact initiative for the IT & Outsourcing industry) and Fab Lab Iasi (a 700 sqm coworking space, opened in 2017).

 Read Full article »
 
 
MOST READ ARTICLES
» Committed to growth
» The Outsourcing industry announces its...
» ROMANIAN OUTSOURCING AWARDS FOR EXCELL...
» Zitec's digital marketing division reg...
» PwC: The competitive advantages of Rom...
» Luxoft expands Asia Pacific presence w...
» EXCLUSIVE: ABSL Timisoara - BPO and SS...
» Genpact's COO: Staying ahead of the cu...
» How giving back pays dividends for com...
» Olga Botusan, Stefanini: There is a hu...
 
EDITOR CHOICE
Andrei Romanescu CEO, VEEAM, on the importance of people skills and leadership forming

Within the recently ended OT Learning & Development roundtable edition, Andrei Romanescu CEO, VEEAM stated that he trends of the current and following years underline the importance of people skills and leaders

 Read Full article »
OT Learning & Development: About capitalizing on self-willingness to reach performance

How to succeed in reaching the young and the valuable employees and wining their hearts and minds, so they will forever be committed to gain knowledge, evolve in profession and build a strong career inside the

 Read Full article »
OT Learning & Development now, about digital transformation, facilitating a culture of change and innovation

Some trends are here to stay, while some other may not. How about gamification, chatbots, microlearning, data analytics, mobile learning, augmented reality and others? Today's edition of OT Learning & Developme

 Read Full article »
The need of the industry to stay effective and relevant

In the current context of machinery and AI helping on operational processes of a company, with extended applicability in terms of capabilities, the digital context in which professionals, organizations and busi

 Read Full article »
We meet again at OT Learning & Development on June 7th

The Second Edition of OT Learning & Development roundtable will be held on June 7, 2018 at InterContinental Hotel Bucharest. The event brings together the business services professionals to discuss and discover

 Read Full article »
Latest News  
 
about us | newsletter | contact | members area | GDPR policy
Copyright © 2015 by Diplomat Media Events Design by Diplomat Media Events