Can you remember a time before social media and smartphones? It’s strange to think about it now, but there are a couple of generations who’re credulous about how we survived without smart technology. Many today feel palpitations if they can’t lay their hands on their phones.
It’s clear that we live in a technologically driven society.
The upside is that we’ve never been more interconnected. The downside is that customer expectations have evolved to new levels. Thirty or forty years ago, people would’ve happily waited until normal business hours to get answers to their questions. Today’s consumers expect instant answers.
In a bid to meet this demand, companies are increasingly augmenting their customer support services with AI-based chatbots. Should you do the same? In this post, we look at the pros and cons of doing so to help you make an informed decision.
Did the pandemic play a role in catapulting us into the chatbot age? It may have, especially considering that many companies started relying on them because of employee shortages. However, the technology was already in place before COVID-19 hit; it just wasn’t as widely adopted.
In a post-pandemic world, advances in machine learning have made chatbots a lot more capable. Today, they can carry on conversations and almost pass for humans. They’re also much better at giving the right answers, making them a valuable tool in the age of instant gratification.
Let’s examine why you might want to start training your own little bot.
One of the primary benefits of AI-based chatbots is their ability to provide round-the-clock support. Unlike human agents who have limited working hours, bots work 24/7. They don’t have off days, get sick, or require annual leave.
This 24/7 availability enhances customer satisfaction and helps businesses maintain a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced market environment.
Consistent Service Delivery
One complaint about bots is that they’re often monotone. However, this is also a strength because they deliver consistent service. Unlike humans, who may vary in their response times and levels of expertise, chatbots follow predefined algorithms to provide standardized answers to common queries.
Their tone never varies, meaning they always deliver the information in a professional manner. Human consultants may have off days or become irritated with difficult clients. Bots don’t have feelings to get in the way.
A Vast Capacity for Work
A chatbot can deal with inquiries simultaneously, thereby reducing wait times and improving overall efficiency. The machine can scan through vast amounts of data and deliver the right answers in seconds. Human agents can multi-task, but not to the same level.
This capability makes bots valuable during peak periods when customer service teams may be overwhelmed by the volume of inquiries.
Another key advantage of chatbots is their ability to collect and analyze data from customer interactions. By tracking user behavior and preferences, chatbots can provide valuable insights that businesses can use to optimize their products and services.
Additionally, chatbots can help identify recurring issues or pain points, allowing companies to proactively address customer concerns and improve service.
The bot can also scan through previous interactions, the client’s purchase history, and several other data points. This enables it to offer personalized and highly relevant recommendations.
While there’s still a way to go, bots can translate customer queries into different languages and respond appropriately.
Challenges and Considerations
While the potential benefits of AI-based chatbots are undeniable, they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s look at some of the potential issues.
Loss of the Human Touch
A bot can’t understand a client’s frustration and can’t demonstrate empathy. Most customers want to interact with a fellow human being rather than a chatbot. Some find bots very annoying, especially when it comes to complex queries.
Human agents may also have some leeway in the way they handle queries. For example, they may be able to waive fees, offer discounts, or send out a free gift as a way to make up for a mistake. Bots don’t have the capacity to understand which option to apply and when to apply it.
Bots Can’t Do It All
Chatbots can answer simple queries. However, they struggle with the more complex ones. They can frustrate clients if they try to answer these questions instead of transferring the client to an internal support agent.
Companies today must clearly define when the bot should stop handling the query. They should also consider allowing the client to opt for human support at any stage during the interaction. Doing so will help to defuse the customer’s frustration.
Chatbots Can Misunderstand
The bot is only as good as its training. Therefore, companies should invest in machine learning that centers on natural language and its nuances. This will prevent misunderstandings that may frustrate the customer and damage the company’s reputation.
You should test your bot carefully before unleashing it.
Additionally, there are concerns regarding data privacy and security when using AI-based chatbots. Since these virtual assistants have access to sensitive customer information, there is a risk of data breaches or misuse without the right safeguards.
A chatbot might not be able to pick up on the subtle signs of deception that a human agent would.
Businesses must implement stringent security measures and comply with relevant regulations to protect customer data and maintain trust.
There are no easy answers when it comes to incorporating AI-based chatbots into your customer support services. You must carefully weigh the benefits against the potential risks. While chatbots are getting better at emulating human conversation, they’re a long way from being mistaken for a live agent. They’re also not advanced enough to deal with complex queries.
Companies who want to incorporate this technology would do well to offer a live team as a backup. They should also consider giving their clients the choice of dealing with the team or the bot.
Chatbots can provide quick answers instantaneously, while human officials can offer empathetic support and solve more complex queries. If you can integrate the two seamlessly, you’ll be onto a winning solution.