It’s great that companies are building innovations and technologies around the needs of the customers. But when it comes to help and support, we are psychologically inclined to trust a person skilled in that particular field. In addition to that, customers look forward to having a conversation with someone who is emotionally adept and capable of listening and connecting with their needs, wants, or grievances. Customers understand the difference here as machines are known to execute tasks and humans are the ones that can truly provide the service.
Why Chatbots cannot replace customer support professionals?
There was a time when mobile e-commerce and self-checkout were considered futuristic and cutting-edge technologies. And now, once again we stand at the threshold of a fresh new era in customer service technology. For decades, customer service businesses and organizations have been constantly looking out for ways to cut back on costs. With the chatbot frenzy taking over, many organizations are hopping on the bandwagon in an attempt to replace human agents with chatbots.
In theory, it makes sense — customer service companies choose chatbots as they cost less than a professional agent over a period of time and some companies tend to focus on reducing cost over increasing customer experience. But practically customers aren’t thrilled with the idea of interacting with bots for all their queries — yes, for some rudimentary help. Most customers would prefer to contact a customer centre or reach out on social media than have to experience an interaction with a chatbot. Primarily, customers are skeptical about chatbots providing the level of service as a human agent would. Secondly, customers are plain reluctant to trust a chatbot to rectify or resolve their service-related issues.
According to a survey conducted by Forrester, Conversation AI-based solutions helped businesses be more functional but failed to raise the customer support (Customer Experience) bar.
Some of the survey highlights include:
- 80% of respondents said that chatbots created a more negative experience than positive or neutral ones.
- 70% of respondents said that they had poor customer experiences with speech-enabled virtual assistants.
- 75% of respondents said that virtual assistants created more friction between the customer and the company.
Limitations of Chatbots in customer support
According to the “CGS Customer Service Chatbots & Channels Survey”, where over 1000 consumers were surveyed, 86% of the respondents indicated that they would prefer to converse and interact with a human agent over a Chatbot. 71% of the consumers said that they would not interact with a brand that does not have human customer service representatives. And only 31% of the respondents said that they would consult a chatbot or virtual assistant to resolve their issues.
There are several drawbacks in chatbots that obstruct customers from having an exceptional customer service journey. Listed below are few such limitations in no particular order.
- Provides basic support and assistance
One of the biggest challenges associated with a Conversational AI is that it cannot handle complex questions, queries, and grievances nor can it hold conversations with customers or callers. These bots are not technologically mature yet and still require human assistance to control and manage them. Just like how agents will have to adapt to using chatbots, similarly, customers will have to learn to adapt to interacting with them.
- The issue of repetition
Machines are trained and programmed to provide standard responses, replies, and answers. In a scenario wherein the customer does not find the answer satisfactory and repeats or rephrases the question; the chatbot will still provide the same answer. This is a tell-all sign that the customer is interacting with a chatbot with more machine-like qualities than resembling a human level of understanding. This can result in making the customer more disgruntled and frustrated than when the call was placed.
- Absence of decision-making capabilities
The inability to identify between good or bad can have some serious consequences which directly or indirectly affect the health of the organization or business. Humans laboriously craft each rule and response and convert it into training data that can be fed and programmed into a linguistic-based conversation chatbot. But what naturally comes to human beings like creativity, advice, phrases of solace, etc can only be provided by human agents. Chatbots can only help to a minor degree and when customers call or get in touch for help, they want to be told what to do. Bots are designed based on algorithms. Chatbots, however, though built for this very reason, can neither make decisions nor help customers take decisions. Although a robust and comprehensive algorithm can help to an extent, abilities like decision-making or going that extra mile for customer success can happen only with human interaction.
- Poor conversational comprehension
Bots can respond to only the extent to which they have been trained because bots cannot probe certain information like humans. If customers are likely to quiz the bot regarding certain topics or are requesting it to address certain situations that the bot is not trained to answer or handle; the customers are going to get frustrated. This is one of the key reasons why humans are skeptical about trusting machines and why chatbots may never deliver exceptional customer support.
- Lack or Absence of emotions
Chatbots have no emotions, unlike their human counterparts. Bots are mechanical and cannot be trusted to handle customer interactions in certain situations. Machines most often fail to empathize with customers who may be feeling a range of emotions. This is why a large percentage of customers opt-out of speaking to Chatbots altogether.
How are customer support professionals indispensable in customer support?
It’s a no-brainer that most customers choose to contact customer service executives to resolve their service-related concerns and issues. The experience that connects a human agent with a customer translates into exceptional customer support. Listed below are 3 significant ways in which agents prove to be indispensable to customer support.
- Effective and Interactive Communication Skills
Articulate communication is the roadway to a successful customer support. A conversation that touches on every aspect of the customer’s concern, queries, or grievances and provides them with clarity attributes to the satisfaction of the customer. Agents are likely to use proper etiquette, eloquent language and will most likely be able to convey messages, instructions, clarifications, etc in ways that customers can grasp and understand the first time around- eliminating the need to call further or need to escalate the call. At VOIZ we believed that communication doesn’t end with speaking alone. It involves agents to be proactive and be focused listeners so that the right information can be imparted and resolution can be attained at the earliest.
- Complex and creative understanding to resolve problems
Unlike chatbots, human agents have the capacity to think and handle more complex interactions in less time. At VOIZ, agents are required to keep up with volumes of calls by providing satisfactory services while also going the extra mile for customers. Customer calls come in the form of varied problems, questions, doubts, concerns, etc, and there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Agents have the ability to think, process, and come up with solutions that fit the requirements of these customers promptly. This further boosts their confidence and problem-solving skills to take on complex problems. For customers that means higher first call resolution, reduced wait time, and personalized services.
- Optimizing customers’ holistic experiences to prevent friction
With agents, they can be trained with the least amount of time and resources when compared to their AI counterparts. When the factors impacting agent performance, efficiency, and effectiveness are checked combined with agent metrics, and improved upon, it results in agent empowerment. This further reflects in their ability to satisfy their customers while also providing them with memorable experiences. This translates into customer loyalty and consistent delivery of exceptional customer support.
Move Forward but Move Consciously
Chatbots are not meant to replace humans but rather assist them because no matter what goes technically wrong with machines, humans are more than capable of handling that and the customers.
There is so much customer service technology available in abundance to help companies and businesses organize, align, automate and improve their processes. Take advantage of these facilities and resources by all means. But don’t deprive your customers of human contact as they are people who need to interact with other people. At VOIZ, we have skilled customer service agents that can add value and benefit your organization by reducing handling time, improving customer experience, and increasing agent productivity and engagement.