Let’s Chat About Chatbots

Stephen Pappas is the Senior Vice President & Head of U.S. Business for Panviva.

Those chatbots that pop up on websites, apps or social media platforms may mimic human interaction, but they aren’t there to replace humans. When used correctly, they provide a helping hand so human agents can focus on what they do best, i.e., solve complex issues.

Chatbots or bots are best used to offload tedious, routine or mundane tasks from humans. This creates synergy between chatbots and human agents.

Chatbots use artificial intelligence (AI) to interact with customers in a human-like manner. They can quickly answer routine questions, freeing human workers to address more complex interactions or support the sale process.

Bots can qualify problems or leads for humans, and let the human workers do what they do best: understand the nuances of customer priorities and build empathy with customers. It’s no wonder that analysts predict rapid growth for chatbots, as well as significant existing uptake. Survey results show that 52% of telcos already deploy chatbots, according to Gartner.

Of course, some chatbot deployments are more effective than others. Some bots truly leverage AI, whereas others just do simple screening that may or may not integrate well with further human-led interaction. The best deployments use chatbots selectively, leverage AI and seamlessly hand off any collected information. No customer wants to have to repeat all the information he or she just gave to a bot.

Any organization using bots should have in place a single source of truth for customer-facing information to support the interactions of both human agents and bots. All content should flow from a single repository.

Here are the three things you can do to make bots effective:

1. Provide a single source of truth.

Make sure all your bots are deriving their content from the same foundation for data, content workflows and rules as your human agents and all digital channels.

2. Develop content that is a fit for each channel.

Think of it as “micro-content” that is based on a channel’s specific requirements and delivered in a way that doesn’t confuse the customer—from website to text messages.

3. Use bots in places your customers will not object to.

Don’t try to use bots everywhere for everything. Their best uses are for low-interaction, low-decision-making processes that do not inherently drive customer experience but can be erosion points if not handled with speed and accuracy.

I believe bots and human agents must complement each other and be allowed to do what each does best. Humans are empowered to make complex decisions and enhance CX. They are empathetic. Bots are good at maintaining the status quo, using AI to answer routine and mundane questions.

Given the labor crunch and talent shortage across many organizations in what remains a strong economy, it’s a sure bet that chatbots will continue to see increasing use. But they can be overused or deployed in an unsynchronized way with an organization’s human talent. That can lead to customer backlash—which is the opposite of what you really want to do with bots: Make the customer experience faster, easier and engaging.

– Reprinted with permission from Contact Center Pipeline,

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