Chatbots, although cost-efficient, have their limitations. They often can’t deviate from programmed answers or think on their feet like a service rep, and are sometimes perceived as a measure by businesses to prevent people from calling their phones. Jay Reeder, CEO of VoiceNation, believes that a mix of automation and customer service representatives (CSR) is the way forward.
Reeder tells Digital Journal that different users prefer to engage with companies in different ways, providing alternate avenues to communicate with the customer is essential. The option to speak to a human reduces the risk of disengaging customers while providing reliable, quality information whenever needed.
Digital Journal: How are chatbots changing customer service?
Jay Reeder: A study shows that while 59 percent of total chats involve a chatbot, only 27 percent of those conversations can resolve an issue from start to finish. Meaning that either the chat is abandoned or the customer has to seek help from a live agent. Businesses are relying on chatbots to enhance customer service/experience at low cost, but relying too heavily on software for human interaction can negatively impact the business. If there aren’t live agents that can address issues that are more complicated, customers are going to become extremely frustrated and potentially move on to the next business.
DJ: How reliable are chatbots?
Reeder: 86 percent of customers believe that there should be an escalation option within the chat to allow for a person to talk to a live agent. So while chatbots are a useful CX tool, live agents are still preferred for more complicated issues.
Bots can handle simple requests but still have a high error rate because it’s simply software, not another human being who can understand nuances in conversation.
DJ: How is AI advancing chatbots?
Reeder: AI can make chatbots smarter and more intuitive, but businesses wanting to use chatbots need to toe a certain line. 75 percent of people want to know when they are talking to a chatbot, with nearly half of those surveyed say they find it “disturbing” when a chatbot pretends to be human. Those surveyed said they feel would feel as though they are being fooled by an attempt to mask a chatbot as a live agent.
DJ: How do customers react to chatbots?
Reeder: For the most part, people react positively to chatbots. 70 percent, in fact. But if the experience is perceived as negative, 73 percent of people surveyed said they wouldn’t use that chatbot again. It’s a great idea to have chatbots as a customer service tool. A lot of times, people are willing to work out their problems on their own without having to pick up the phone, and chatbots are great for very simple, basic troubleshooting or FAQs. But abandoning live agents entirely for automation will create trouble down the line.
DJ: Do some customers still prefer interacting with another person?
Absolutely. New reseearch shows that 75 percent of customers still favor live agent support. The negatives against chatbots is that people are wary their concerns or issues won’t be resolved, which leads to a loss of time and effort for them. 45 percent of those surveyed said they prefer the personal touch of speaking to a live agent. And the majority of people surveyed have distrust when providing a chatbot with personal or financial information.
DJ: Is it a good idea to have a mix between automation and customer service reps?
Reeder: Definitely. Chatbots as a customer service tool can free up your customer service phone lines by having more minor issues resolved or simple questions answered. But when it comes to more complicated issues, you want to have live agents standing on the line. Fortunately, you can provide live customer support without killing your budget by hiring full-time employees. Instead, you can use a live answering service.