Companies Cannot Afford to Not Use Chatbots

Capgemini did a survey of more than 12,000 consumers. They predict that voice assistants will replace visits to the store, bank or dealer for 70% of consumers. It’s hard to overstate the potential of chatbots to disrupt the customer experience.

It may be difficult to imagine at this point because chatbots still underperform significantly versus human agents in many ways, most notably for complex problems. Some of this underperformance is due to the fact that the technology is still emerging. Some of this underperformance is due to the fact that many chatbots are badly designed.

There are many use cases where chatbots are already a much better alternative to human agents:

Chatbots can guide users through a decision or gather information using a scripted bot. It is not efficient or economically feasible for humans to this kind of work. It may be arguable that a website is a better channel for this use case, however, the chatbot has some advantages over a website:

  1. The chatbot is a guided, step by step experience, so the user is less likely to feel uncertain about what they are doing.
  2. The chatbot can provide the services in a chat channel, such as whatsapp, which is more convenient to users because they are already there and the conversation can be truly asynchronous.
  3. The chatbot is much easier to create than a website.

It should be noted that scripted bots are not always the best choice versus a website. For example, form filling that involves more than a few fields, the graphical form is better because it is easier for the user to see what is required and go back to edit previous answers if necessary.

Chatbots are also better at answering simple, repetitive questions. Chatbots can answer these questions faster and more comprehensively than a human agent. It is again not efficient or economically feasible for a human agent to do this work.

Of course the chatbot cannot answer all the questions that the customer might pose so a human agent definitely provides a better overall experience to the customer. This is the reason that a better customer experience can be provided by combining the chatbot and the human agent. The chatbot can escalate to the human agent if necessary. In fact, the chatbot does not even need to interact with the customer if it cannot understand the user question with a high level of confidence. By combining a chatbot and a human agent, a much better customer experience is created.

There is no reason why companies should not already be using chatbots to deliver an overall better experience to customers. The fact that it is also economically cheaper to do this makes it even more obvious that this is something that they should be doing.

Of course, it is possible for companies to make the customer experience for the user worse with a bad user experience design even if the experience should, in theory, be better.

The main design mistakes that companies make are:

  1. Trying to make the bot intelligent where a scripted bot would be a better user experience.
  2. Not backing up an intelligent chatbot with scripted alternatives or, even better, a human agent.

If chatbots already can deliver a better experience to consumers, it is easy to imagine that this experience will be vastly improved in future and new possibilities will result. One thing is certain, innovation will continue to progress at a high speed and this will lead to breakthroughs in customer experience.

This is another reason why companies should be using this technology and developing their expertise right now. They will need know-how and data in their domain to prepare for subsequent innovations.

Chatbots are moving towards an ultra-convenient future where a consumer only needs to speak and it is done. While even in the future there will still be many cases that only humans can deal with, the chatbots will cover a huge amount of uses cases.

In fact, the irony is that customer service will become much better, not just because of the convenient conversational interface, but because the friction involved in reaching the right human for a more complex problem will be massively reduced. Using chatbots will actually make it economically viable to provide human support for a much wider range of problems.