Chatbots have started to take over the world. Though that’s a bit of an exaggeration, there’s no denying the growing presence of these technological beings. In the world of business, customers today expect great service that is delivered on time. And while chatbots can be a great addition to your arsenal, the bigger question is if they can meet these expectations consistently and, in the process, provide a reliable substitute for human customer service.
The hoopla would certainly make you believe so. But let’s not forget that chatbots have limitations. Which is why for a customer-facing business, it’s important to know where to draw the line and let the human take over.
The ‘Human’ touch and emotion matters, a lot!
Customer service has always been about humans. A decade ago, when you had a problem with a product or service, you’d dial the contact center and speak to an agent. Or, you would get in touch with the dealer from whom you got the product/service. It was almost always about talking to someone on the other side, who could hopefully understand your query and provide a solution.
This aspect of customer service is still very much need-of-the-hour. According to Genesys’s Global Survey “The Cost of Poor Customer Service”, the most requested improvement from customers was “Better Human Service”. An American Express study concluded that 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration as they could not talk to a real person.
Chatbots, unfortunately, are incapable of building relationships, unlike humans. It’s also important to note that bots being programmable entities, they lack empathy and cannot differentiate between human emotions. Which pretty much means that they’ll respond to a customer who is absolutely fuming the same way they do to someone who wants to know a local store address!
Chatbots cannot provide true customer service and establish context
True customer service is not just about scouring and providing information but offering actionable solutions to every single customer issue. Since chatbots are pre-programmed, they work fine as long as the conversation with the customer follows a definitive set of instructions that have already been fed into the bot. The moment the customer wants to know something that doesn’t fall under the bot’s knowledge domain, it either ends up providing inaccurate replies or asks more questions that would only frustrate the customer.
Owing to this pre-defined way of functioning, bots cannot capture the context behind customer queries or complaints. Has this customer reported the same problem before? If so, was this issue resolved the last time around and has it relapsed? Or, has it been unattended to since then? Understanding the context is very critical in customer service, especially if you’re looking to provide solutions that work, build long-term customer relationships and ultimately increase loyalty.
Constant training of Chatbots isn’t a viable option
Since bots cannot dynamically capture and respond to what your customers are saying are their own, they need to be constantly trained and updated to prepare for various possibilities. In today’s world, these possibilities are increasing given that customer expectations and demands are evolving at an unprecedented rate. Therefore, updating these bots with more complex algorithms exhausts resources – time, technology, money and people.
Instead, the focus must be on training human resources in customer service. This is not only a lot easier but also more economical. With an effective training program in place, humans can be taught to handle different types of customers tactfully. They can be trained to adapt according to the needs of the situation, improvise in real-time, and use the right choice of words and the right tone to placate the customer.
So, unless and until chatbots come with technical superiority as well as emotional consciousness where they are able to empathize with humans, adapt to different conversations to understand core issues and behavioural trends, and constantly self-learn, human beings should be at the forefront of customer service.
Rob Siefker, Senior Director of Zappos’ customer loyalty team, puts it across precisely:
“No matter how ‘intelligent’ an auto-response system can be, there’s no way to replicate the warmth and authenticity that a live customer service rep can offer.”
No wonder Zappos is the benchmark for great customer service!
Now, if you’re looking for a cost-effective yet dynamic customer service provider, get in touch with us at the link below!