Chatbots have become all the rage with companies looking for ways to streamline operations and answer customer questions without bogging down their service teams. However, chatbots take away from the personal touch that’s important to building brand trust, and often lack the sophistication and empathy of speaking with a real life human. While many companies are adopting chatbots, customers still prefer talking to a real life person when they need customer assistance
A Statista survey asked consumers in what scenarios they would be comfortable talking with a chatbot rather than a human. Only 34% of respondents stated they would be comfortable using chatbots in an online retail situation. Most customers don’t want chatbots.
What is a Chatbot?
There are typically two types of chatbots that companies adopt:
- AI-based bot that uses dynamic learning and self-updates based on customer interaction
- Fixed bots that offer a limited list of capabilities and require manual updates to change their language and assistance aptitudes.
If you’ve ever called out “Hey Siri, what’s the weather?” only to receive a prompt to call your friend Heather, you understand the frustration that AI virtual assistants can have, regardless of how much money is poured in to making them “useful”.
As you consider automating your customer service experience, here’s a list of the pros and cons of chatbots that you should take into account.
Pros of Chatbots
There’s no question that chatbots are able to save your team valuable time. Since chatbots can be programmed to answer simple questions, your staff can focus on the more complex issues that your customers may have.
Bots, unlike humans, can respond to customer inquiries around the clock without costing you extra. With 24/7 chat capabilities, your bot can answer customer questions instantly, without requiring them to call your service team between working hours.
Promotes Conversational Marketing
Most consumers prefer to receive an answer to their question immediately. Rather than having to scroll through your website and find the answer themselves, or fill out a contact form to receive a call or email at a later date, a chatbot allows customers to engage with your site without requiring an actual human to monitor the conversations. While nothing beats human-to-human interaction, a bot can substitute until a support or sales person needs to step in, and can do so using intuitive language that matches your company’s tone. A good example of this are the chatbots provided by Manychat and Intercom. Manychat is very useful for marketing using Facebook Messenger while Intercom performs well for Live Chat on your website.
Helps Manage Customer Requests
If you typically have hundreds of thousands of customer inquiries that you find are generally simple to respond to, a chatbot can help. There’s no ceiling to how many customers a chatbot can handle, which allows your service team to focus on the more complex requests that may come their way.
Cons of Chatbots
Don’t Understand Natural Language
As far as bots have come, there’s still no replacing the natural flow of human conversation. Most chatbots are unable to adapt their language to match that of humans, which means slang, misspellings, and sarcasm are often not understood by a bot. This means chatbots typically can’t be used for channels that are public and highly personal like Facebook and Instagram. This creates a hiccup for the bot and impedes the quick service your customer was looking for.
Not Personalized or Emotive
Bots aren’t going to respond to your customers with personalization or emotion, which is a big detractor for a lot of customers. Especially when experiencing an issue with a product or company, customers want their frustrations to be met with empathy. If a conversation doesn’t follow a specific path, the bot doesn’t have the ability to improvise the way a human could, thus resulting in a negative customer experience.
Higher Capacity for Misunderstanding
When a customer’s question isn’t clear or is too specific, a bot may have a hard time helping. Chatbots are programmed to answer general questions with answers that can be found in its database, so if a customer asks something outside of this narrow list of answerable questions, they will likely confuse the bot and will either be taken around in circles as the bot tries to understand the question being asked (often to no avail), or simply be left without an answer. In either case, this isn’t a great customer experience and can negatively impact your company’s image.
Need to be Maintained
Chatbots need frequent optimization to make sure they are giving the right information to your customers and representing your brand appropriately. As your user demand and business priorities shift, you’ll need to update your bot accordingly, which requires analysis of previous bot conversations to identify common questions your bot receives. If you leave your bot to its own devices, your customers will notice and your customer service rating will suffer.
Additionally, chatbots are programmed to handle a specific amount of data, and as you update and edit the data, there can be disruptions to the chatbot model as a whole. This requires ongoing and careful maintenance to make sure you don’t create holes in the chatbot interface.
Expensive to Install
While you may save on payroll, an effective chatbot will cost you a pretty penny. Installation is different for each type of business, and low-cost options may seem appealing, but low-cost often equates to limited features. As a result, you’ll find your costs quickly increasing as you evolve your chatbot to meet the standard of service your customers are seeking.
Chatbots were created to respond to simple questions that can be answered with facts. There’s not a large capacity for a chatbot to respond to multi part questions or questions that require decisions. This often means your customers are left without a solution, and have to go through more steps to contact your support team.
Losing customer insights
When you use a chatbot, you lose touch with what your customers are saying. This means you might miss feedback on growing issues as well as valuable insights on new opportunities for your business.
Bots Don’t Fit Every Business Model
It’s important to be realistic with your decisions around implementing a chatbot. Certain business models are far too complex to utilize a chatbot, and certain customer bases may not respond positively to a chatbot. Consider your audience and trade before deciding to utilize a bot to save you from unnecessary expenses.
What’s the Solution?
While chatbots might seem like an appealing alternative to customer service team members, there’s a lot that you’re risking, and your company’s image is at the top of the list.
If you’re looking for a better alternative to a chatbot, Chatdesk Teams offers a hybrid option that combines AI and automation with personal support from a real life human agent. Chatdesk helps you scale up your customer support on-demand by leveraging real life Superfans of your brand to answer your customer questions 24/7. Their technology ensures that responses perfectly match your brand voice from day one.
Rather than paying to install and maintain a bot to only deliver in a limited capacity, Chatdesk Teams gives your customers the personal support they deserve, at a fraction of the cost for you.
If you’re interested in scaling your customer care, reducing your response time, and increasing conversions, you can learn more about Chatdesk Teams and create a free account below.