Chat bots and AI: The Next Customer Service Rep

Written By: Rebecca Marie Crowe
15 September 2016

The first thing that springs to mind when anyone says artificial intelligence, or AI, is a bizarrely human-looking robot with bad intentions. Similarly, chat bots brings to mind those little ‘can we help you?’ pop up boxes on every website. But can these two technologies really be used to help improve the future of customer service? Let's have a look:

Are chat bots and AI efficient?
By the nature of technology, these innovations are designed to be efficient. However, anyone who has used Siri knows how much technology can misunderstand human commands. Although, as a first line of customer service (CS) defence, these automated bots are adept at dealing with generic, day-to-day queries. They’re also fairly easy to maintain and update and aren’t going on extended coffee breaks anytime soon.

Phone
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The benefits?
The benefit for a business is that, in the long term, it may be cheaper than having human staff, especially in a call-centre-oriented business. It all depends on the requirements of the business - as chat bots may suit some business sectors more than others - and the function of the bot. If you’re an organisation that could have thousands of possible call outcomes, then a bot may not be able to handle that many requests. Yet, if you’re looking for a replacement for a frequently asked questions page, a chat bot or AI will work seamlessly. But, they're not all they're cracked up to be...

What’s the downside?
The main downside is the specificity needed for CS. Each customer has a different way of phrasing their problems which could be difficult for bots with limited commands. Through this, many customers may get frustrated with the lack of understanding that comes from non-human CS. It's bad enough when you ring a helpline with human advisors and feel like you're talking to a robot, never mind an actual robot. Customers just want to feel heard and understood; this is something bots are not known for.

Customer Service
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The future?
Predicting the future is tricky, especially where CS is involved. Nobody wants to be replaced by a machine. But with the growth of tech in the CS area, this may be on the rise. In 2014 there was a 60% increase in the amount of CS queries dealt with through webchats. And, despite webchats being controlled by operators, the consumer may not realise they're dealing with an actual human. With the use of heavily scripted conversations within CS centres, it's sometimes hard to distinguish between operators and bots. This being said, it does provide more job opportunities for engineers and software developers to maintain these bots.

From a business point of view, it allows for upgrades to policy without hours of training; just a simple software update. Yet the loss of the personal aspect when dealing with specific queries is a crucial problem. A lot of CS is understanding the client and empathising; robots simply cannot do this at present.

Social Media
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The solution?
For now, at least, a balance between bots and human service is needed. This could come from bots being the initial port of call; answering generic questions and directing queries accordingly. Then the use of human CS could be more efficiently used answering detailed problems and not having to redirect issues.

Having the humans wholly running the social media side is of crucial importance. The more informal style of social media is something bots may not be able to handle. Especially with the increase in social media based CS, the importance of the human aspect of this cannot be overstated. Between January 2014 and May 2015 the amount of customer complaints made through social media increased eight-fold.

As in most areas of life, balance is the key. With the technological leaps and bounds being made where CS is concerned, businesses simply cannot ignore either bots or human CS. Both are vital to the running of any successful CS department and in the end an effective CS department makes for a successful business.

Gnatta allows businesses of all sizes to listen and engage with their customers on an individual basis via one single interface. The number of ways customers can contact you is expanding quicker than ever before, not only can you respond to everything from within Gnatta, but Gnatta actively helps the operator follow the customer through their experience, giving you a better picture of what the customer wants. Gnatta helps you give them faster, better and more informed responses across communication channels, reacting to tweets, Facebook messages, SMS messages, email, marketplace and review sites. Gnatta also provides a comprehensive suite of analytics giving users a greater understanding of what their customers are saying about them. If you would like more information about Gnatta, please contact Jack Barmby, CEO jack@gnatta.com or by telephone (07775967300). Or for any press enquires, contact elena@gnatta.com or by telephone (07928671011) Sign up and get to know us!