The field of customer service is moving into the future with chatbots, but this technology still has its glitches.
Every growing business wants to improve its customer service. Every customer knows that waiting 30 minutes in line on the phone to reach a company representative can be frustrating. As technology reshapes many other elements of the client-firm relationship, so the field of customer service is moving into the future, and the buzzword is chatbots.
A chatbot is an automated computer program that is capable of chatting with a user through a conversational interface. The most advanced bots are powered by artificial intelligence, which enables them to understand human requests, personalize responses, and essentially play the role of the traditional customer service representative, saving companies both time and resources.
A popular trend among millennials
Chatbots enable a user or customer to make an enquiry or place an order directly without sending email or filling in an order form. Users converse with the bot via a text bubble or instant messaging service and type requests as if they were communicating with a human being.
The technology is still in its infancy, but many companies are already utilizing chatbots to connect with customers who may not be aware they are interacting with a computer program.
According to research by Forrester, five percent of companies worldwide were using chatbots regularly by 2016, and 20 percent were piloting them. Sixty percent of millennials already make use of them.
Yet the chatbot phenomenon still has its glitches, and they are those most commonly associated with new technology. Namely, the lack of human empathy and understanding.
Bots: A misunderstood context
Too often, bots take wording literally, misunderstand context, or ignore previous information given by the user; they don’t understand humour or exasperation, or appreciate irony. Even if they are aware that they are dealing with software, customers may find the experience frustrating, and ultimately take their business elsewhere.
According to research by HubSpot, 71 percent of people are happy to use messaging apps to get customer service, but they say they do so because they want a problem resolved more quickly, meaning that they may have little patience for error.
Like any new technology, we are still some way from fully realizing the potential and understanding the shortcomings of chatbots. Companies need to stay on top of new developments if they are to make the most of them.