Are Chatbots, Virtual Agents, and Artificial Intelligence Threats to Your Contact Centre?
Founder & CEO, Creative Virtual
2016 saw the start of a renewed interest and flurry of
excitement around automated, AI bots. However, publicized failures like that of
Microsoft’s experimental chatbot
turned some of the chatbot excitement into mistrust. With some industry and
academic experts warning us about the dangers of AI, including predictions of a
huge loss in jobs due to smart robots and automation, there is a lot of confusion
and uncertainty about this technology. In order to get a
realistic view of AI in the customer experience space, we need to take a step
back from the warnings, predictions, promises and hype to see where we are
AI-powered chatbots provide reliable customer service?
While pure AI is making a positive impact in analyzing
data and making sense of large amounts of information, it’s not the right
solution for providing customer service and support – as evidenced by
Microsoft’s Tay. Unrealistic expectations created by media hype and
overpromising from some industry vendors has led to disappointments with AI
chatbots, but this doesn’t mean organizations should abandon them as a
self-service solution completely. Instead, they need to educate themselves
about the current capabilities of this technology and the extent to which they
can (and should!) be self-learning. When it comes to customer engagement,
service and support, chatbots need a combination of self-learning and human
curation of content. AI-powered chatbots have been proven to provide reliable
customer service, but they need to be backed by the right technology.
chatbots a real threat to the contact center?
AI chatbots certainly are a threat to the traditional
model for the contact center, but they aren’t signaling the end of the contact
center completely – just an end to the traditional approach. Research shows
that customers are increasingly turning to self-service and digital channels
for service and support because they want effortless interactions with
companies. The change to self-service within organizations needs to happen in
conjunction with an evolution of the contact center. For this to work, contact
centers must approach chatbots and virtual agents as complementary to live
agents and not as a threat.
The truth is, contact centers can see huge
benefits from chatbots. By empowering customers to self-serve
for transactional queries, sales and troubleshooting common problems, live
agents can be freed up to develop expertise in dealing with more complex issues
that require human assistance. When used within the contact center to support
agents, chatbots help reduce average handing times and increase first contact
resolution. Because agents know they have a quick and easy way to find
information, the focus moves from trying to retain knowledge to building better
relationships with customers.
should chatbots use a combination of self-learning and human control?
The foundations of successful chatbots lie in the control
of the response given, especially when they are being used as automated
self-help systems. A hybrid approach of self-learning and human curation of
content allows the chatbot to continually improve based on the way it is being
used while also enabling companies to maintain control over the reliability of
Human curation of content allows organizations to be
absolutely sure that their chatbot is responding to users in a predictable,
consistent and legal way. Combining human input with self-learning creates
dependable self-service solutions for brands and their customers. It gives
organizations the control to comply with industry standards and regulations,
and it removes the possibility of a failure like Microsoft’s Tay. This hybrid
approach has proven success within the customer service space with companies
from a variety of industries currently using them to improve their customer
experience, whilst at the same time saving costs.
humans and machines work in harmony to provide perfect customer service?
For years, the customer service industry has been locked
in a debate about which is better: automated self-service or human-assisted
support. The widespread adoption of technology, such as smartphones, along with
generational changes in how we communicate are impacting how customers want to
engage with brands, and changing the either-or debate into a discussion of how
to bring the two together. Current capabilities of AI-powered chatbots and
virtual agents put these solutions in the perfect position to be complementary
with humans and, when implemented correctly, help create happy and loyal
customers. In fact, a blend
of humans and machines working together for customer support
also benefits contact centers through lower costs, reduced staff turnover and
more engaged, skilled and happier agents.
does the future hold for chatbots and the contact center?
When it comes to AI and chatbots, companies need to make
decisions based on realistic expectations but shouldn’t shy away from
incorporating this technology into their current customer support strategy or
planning for more integration in the future. And while they shouldn’t panic
about this technology bringing the end of the contact center, they should worry
about being left behind if they fail to embrace humans and machines working in
harmony as part of their approach to customer engagement.
The future of customer service and the contact center
lies in a blend
of AI and human thought.