When are Chatbots Helpful? 4 Customer Support Scenarios
At one time, almost 100% of customer service was delivered via live agents in contact centers. Now, with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we have increasingly sophisticated technology at our disposal, and one invention that can bring greater speed, efficiency, and accuracy to your customer experience (CX) – AI Chatbots. But when is it best to employ a Bot, and in what situations are chatbots helpful to customers?
Let’s go over four common customer support scenarios to see where Bots can boost your CX…
Simple Product Questions
For quick Q&A’s, Chatbots are helpful.
Say, a customer has a simple inquiry about a product. No matter the time or day, they can jump on a company website and a chatbot can instantly direct them to a product or FAQ page. With the use of natural language processing (NLP), customers can even enter search terms to find relevant answers. Plus, chatbots are available 365 days a year, 24/7, and don’t need to rest or sleep.
Bots are also less prone to error and offer consistent customer experiences every time someone makes an inquiry. Where chatbots aren’t as helpful is if the inquiry is complex or detailed (we cover that further below).
Return of Damaged Goods
Skilled agents are best equipped to handle this one.
Chatbots can streamline the returns process by automating some functions. Bots can deliver automated prompts for return policies, step-by-step instructions for returning merchandise, or guide customers to a printable return form. But there are things that chatbots cannot do.
In the case of product damage, it’s difficult for a chatbot to accurately assess the level of damage or defect, document it, then decide whether a refund is warranted. This complex process is best left to skilled agents who can sort through product damage tickets, review information, and assess whether the defect falls within return policies. The return process can also be an emotionally charged experience if the customer is upset or disappointed. Human agents are better equipped to assess emotional cues and can offer the necessary empathy to retain a customer relationship.
Processing Insurance Claims
Chatbots are helpful at streamlining the claims process!
With the use of machine learning (ML), AI chatbots can be trained to collect, classify, and analyze data sets. They can even detect anomalies and give recommendations for solutions. This can be applied to things like claims processing, as AI chatbots can be “taught” to quickly identify and process simple claims, while more complex cases can always be relayed to an agent.
A good example of this is when UK-based auto insurer, Ageas, started using AI to streamline its claim process. By inputting hundreds of thousands of photographs of damaged vehicles, its algorithms were trained to assess damage and give detailed repair estimates. When reporting an accident, policyholders can submit images through their smartphones, then within minutes, can be given a decision on their next steps. In fact, Lemonade, a U.S. company that offers homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, has a claims chatbot named Jim that can settle simple claims in only 3 seconds!
Complex Issues – Technical or Otherwise
Nothing beats a live agent in this scenario.
When it comes to supplying automated messages of widespread technical issues or outages, chatbots are helpful. They can reduce the number of calls that need to be routed to tech support agents, so your team won’t be inundated.
Where they often fail is when the technical issue is complex. A chatbot’s knowledge is usually confined to limited databases. They’re not particularly good at improvising on-the-fly, if the issue falls outside of their knowledge base. Unable to understand, chatbots can become stuck in a loop, giving the same unhelpful answer over and over, which only frustrates customers further.
In situations such as these, 57% of customers would prefer to wait 10 minutes for a live agent, rather than talk to a chatbot. That should tell you that when someone has a technical issue or extraordinarily complex problem, they still need person-to-person interactions to feel it has been fully addressed and resolved.
How Customers Feel About Chatbots
As you can see, there are certain benefits to chatbots. They can bring greater cost savings, efficiency, and accuracy to your CX. They also provide the convenience of having “always on” support, even when customer service lines are closed. But the real question is, do customers like using chatbots?
When surveyed, almost half of customers report that they don’t care how their issues are resolved. They just want a fast, easy, and personalized experience.
The acceptance of chatbots is also growing. According to recent surveys, 70% of millennials enjoy interacting with chatbots and report positive experiences. Almost the same amount say they are willing to buy from companies that offer chatbot support. Even among multigenerational consumers, 62% would rather talk to a chatbot to get the answers to their questions instead of waiting for an agent.
Yet, there will always be a segment of the population that prefers speaking to a human being, whether that’s through live chat or voice.
The question should be, how can we use the best of both worlds to deliver the most exceptional experiences to our customers?
Final Thoughts on The Use of Bots
Most people may not care how their issues are resolved, but what consumers do care about is choice. It’s important for your brand to be easily accessible, whether that means offering a few options for contact and support, or a whole ecosystem of digital and human touch points.
“AI and chatbots can help drive efficiency, strategic planning, and consistency in support,” explains Veidwattie (Veda) Samai, itel’s Executive Vice President of Experience. “While human agents can provide empathy, connection, and tailored solutions to complex issues, which leads to better first-call resolution. Often, with a hybrid model, where technology is used to enhance interactions, you can deliver a more comprehensive and memorable experience, which ultimately builds brand loyalty.”
It should never be an all-or-nothing approach. Chatbots shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your CX, otherwise you risk alienating customers who don’t have access to technology or who prefer person-to-person interactions. But they do have a place in modern customer service and some real benefits.
So do people. Live agents are much better at handling complex issues, offer superior first-call resolution, and can represent your brand, and your brand’s personality, in a way that robots cannot. It’s that indefinable human warmth that is so difficult to replicate, even with the best AI.
The important thing is to strike a balance and to find that ideal middle ground where technology enhances human interactions and the overall customer journey.
itel can help you find the right balance between technology and human touch.
Learn more about our flexible customer experience management services and how we can design the perfect fit.