The first-ever chatbot was created in the 1960s. It was called ELIZA. One of the first really complex and sound chatbots was created in 2009 in China by WeChat. Since that time, the technology behind the chatbots was growing and improving, allowing creating more intelligent bots, which would cover the needs of customers broader and wiser, leading to the improvement of customer experience (CX).
All the best chatbots on the market today include complex machine learning technologies and natural language processing, which makes them self-educate to cover increasingly more client requests by nature, type, and complexity. The current stage of their development, however, is far from coverage of 100% of questions, especially complex ones. We’re investigating, are robots in customer service actually improve the CX or worsen it.
A chatbot: robot you can talk to
A chatbot is intelligent software, which is designed to assist clients in resolving their questions. Today, they are broadly used by various industries. According to the latest studies, over 40% of companies in the world, comprising of 500 employees and more, use chatbots already or are at the stage of implementing them. Here are some interesting facts about chatbots:
- Operational costs can be cut by 30% by using a chatbot
- By the end of 2021, around 85% of all customer interaction online will be handled by chatbots
- Facebook uses over 0.3 million chatbots
- The service of chatbots is delivered to over 1.4 billion people on the planet
- Chatbots can cover 80% of standard questions
- 24/7 availability of chatbots to deliver support is found interesting by 64% of Internet users.
Along with that statistic, there is another (covering the minuses of chatbot usage):
- Only 37% of customers use chatbots to receive a quick answer
- Only about 50% of customers tell they would specifically turn to a chatbot (if they knew they are going to interact with software, not human) to resolve fast or urgent issues. Another half prefers interaction only with a human for all questions, independently of their nature, urgency, or level of complexity
- A group of clients aged 65+ would unlikely turn to a bot, preferring a human interaction (although people aged below 30 have a different opinion about that)
- Only 9% of consumers willing to buy an expensive item or product found their interaction with a chatbot helpful.
Who and when is using chatbots
So, based on the data above, are chatbots helpful or eroding for CX? That depends.
Are you looking for a way of how do you turn off chatbots in your online conversation? Then you might belong to one of the categories of clients who dislike interacting with them. For instance, you might be of 65+ years or willing to receive a concise and clear answer to a complex question, which a bot simply wouldn’t give because of a lack of deep understanding of your question.
Chatbots are an appealing mechanism of customer retention when it comes to simple questions, which can be solved by receiving the correct link to the FAQ section, where a question is resolved, or a short answer for it right in the body of a chat. Other questions – like the ones that would require dealing with complex issues, irritated or angry customers, as well as empathy – are better to be left to people.
Let’s summarize when chatbots are great:
- To provide quick and/or simple sales and answers
- As a way to gather customer data to form a lead, which is then passed to humans to make a more qualified sale
- In the off hours. While and if people can’t be online 24/7, a chatbot can. And it provides support fast, weeding through even a terabyte of available information promptly, finding the correct answer based on keywords and information entered by a customer
- When a company has a broad stream of repeated questions and issues, which can be programmed to answer, a bot, always following the same lines of script, is a perfect solution, as it never gets tired, dissatisfied, irritated, burnt-out, or angry
- To filter off clients, which do not suit your client profile
- For faster training of employees during onboarding. You could use formalized scripts used by a chatbot to make onboarding documentation for new personnel.
And now let’s see when they aren’t great:
- To solve technical or complex issues, which require the level of understanding that’s not currently available to programs
- To document returns or product damages, which are often described too freely to let a bot understand or formalize them
- When dealing with angry or frustrated clients. Bots cannot be sympathetic. So, applying them in this scenario will lead to a situation when an angry client leaves a company instead of being soothed down, turning into a happy customer through empathy, personalized offers, and solution on the matter of their anger.
Conclusion on talking to a robot online
Robots in chats work well only in conjunction with humans – ideally, the latter should pick up from the exact point where a client was left off by a bot. A bot could identify complex issues to direct a client to a human or clients could choose initially whether they would like to talk to a bot or straight to a human (such options might be provided to them).
A wise level of computerization of conversations (without making them all 100% automated) is the real and only way for customer retention and satisfaction.