Latest News  

To chatbot or not? Can automation boost response time and consumer trust?

Imagine this common scenario: A dissatisfied customer takes to social media to complain about receiving terrible customer service from a brand

2017-01-31 20:52:42 - by Grégoire Vigroux, Marketing Director for Europe at TELUS International

A simple and unapologetic "Thanks" is all they receive in response
The customer asks: "This is a bot, right?" but the conversation with the brand ends then and there, until another social media user notices the faux pas and circulates to her friends or followers on the platform.

The emergence of this style of response programming — often referred to as chatbots, or simply "bots" — has become an attractive solution for brands looking to expedite their customer service efforts on social media, and on their websites.

Before bots become universally accepted, however, brands need to work out a few kinks. On one hand, bots represent an opportunity to compete with industry rivals by being faster on social media. On the other, an over-reliance on this technology can damage brand perception and credibility.

In a digital and mobile world, where consumers demand situation-aware, empathetic customer service, one misstep like the one mentioned above can quickly get out of hand. Consumers just don't have the patience for tone-deaf replies; for them, switching brands is incredibly easy. And when they switch, they have incredible power to bring their friends along with them.

The real-time challenge


Chatbots aren't solely used to automate social media responses. They're popping up more and more in the corner of e-commerce sites, asking if there's anything they can help you with.

For example, travel-booking site Booking.com uses chatbots for a variety of functions, including an in-destination travel-planning assistant that it released in July 2016.

David Peller, director of strategic partnerships for Booking.com, believes developing mobile messaging platforms is the key to addressing the rapid-satisfaction needs of customers. "The need for instant gratification extends to all of our customer touchpoints, and if we aren't thinking about how to handle customers in real-time through the technology and platform of their choice, we're missing out on a key opportunity for engagement, guest satisfaction and importantly, loyalty," he says.

Chatbots help to meet those expectations by allowing a brands' social channels to have the appearance of being staffed by someone — or at least something — that can handle a customer's question, comment or issue at any time of day.

But Peller cautions that brands must ensure the continued quality of service. In the end, it's all about the customer. "So often lost in this digital conversation, when we're thinking about the web or mobile technology, is who we're here to serve and how we provide a unique experience that reflects our brand and our business through the technology that we deliver," he says.

The human-machine balance


Nicholas Key, CEO of travel-software company 15Below, says technology can help address an organization's staffing limitations, while maintaining a strong customer service standard. "I'm a firm believer that ‘anything is possible' with technology and that the business should drive technology, not vice versa," Key says. Automated systems are typically available 24/7, can cut response times down to a few seconds, allowing customers to avoid waiting in queues and providing access to extensive data to better the customer experience, he says.

However, Key emphasizes that balancing automated systems with other customer support is crucial and that bots and staff need to be trained to offer the same service and advice.

Inadvertently giving customers conflicting information on different channels, for example, creates confusion and can make exchanges less efficient. "The implementation of automated systems must be done taking a holistic approach. Otherwise, you risk reducing the customer experience by the very processes which were designed to improve it," Key says. If customers get confused by bot responses, they'll reach out via other channels, quickly wiping out any efficiencies gained, says Key. "I believe a combined approach to automation and human contact should always be considered."

Empathy is difficult to teach a bot


Bots may help boost the response time and stretch the hours of availability, but many consumers are skeptical. What's often missing from the bot-customer exchange is something that is hard for a machine to emulate: empathy.

There may come a time when bots are empathetic enough to serve customers independent of humans. That time, however, is not here yet. To counter a lack of empathy, some chatbots that appear ‘fully automated' may still benefit from some human assistance behind the scenes.

For example, some bots are programmed to defer to a human in the background if they can't provide a sufficient answer, says Mira Perry, an analyst for market-research firm IDC Canada who tracks the evolution of automation response. "So at times, there is a human involved in the bot experience, without the customer knowing," she says.

This stopgap measure exists for several reasons. One is to make sure replies are both accurate and empathetic. Another is because of consumer distrust for the technology, particularly among certain demographics. "Gen-Z customers are, studies show, looking for secure methods of communication," Key says.

Waiting for an advancement in technology


While technology promises more empathetic and secure bots in the future, humans continue to help customers with more complex questions and issues, at least for the time being. Perry says it may be another decade before better bot technology is fully developed and adopted.

Though the term artificial intelligence (AI) is often used today to refer to bots, contemporary bots are not AI. Rather, they are a small part of the evolution of cognitive technologies. "Sentiment analysis, natural language processing, question-and-answer processing and dialogue management, just to name a few," Perry points out. "As each technology improves, the bot experience will improve."

Today's bots are expedient. But it remains well-trained, empathetic human beings who listen, care and preserve brand reputations. While chatbots may eventually pass the Turing test — a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human, Perry cautions against an over-reliance on the technology. "Any company, large or small, should continue to ensure an available and competent human point of contact," she says.

www.telusinternational-europe.com /
www.telusinternational.com


0 COMMENTS ^ Go back to Top
WRITE A COMMENT ^ Go back to Top
 
Your email address will not be published.
Nickname
Email
Comment
Validation Code
   
 
 
NEWS
CrowdStrike opens a new center of innovation in Bucharest

CrowdStrike Inc., the leader in cloud-delivered endpoint protection, announced the official opening of its new Center of Innovation in the Pipera Technology District, Bucharest, Romania.

 Read Full article »
Romania leads in top of countries with highest number of cybersecurity incidents

Romania is leader in the top of jurisdictions recording the highest number of cybersecurity incidents with 14 attacks, followed by the Czech republic (11) and Hungary (8), according to the study "The Cybersecur

 Read Full article »
Oracle and KPMG study shows data security as priority for business leaders

In August 2018, Oracle applied a questionnaire with a number of questions about transformation technologies to a total of 4,000 respondents in 21 markets. Respondents were top managers in the following markets:

 Read Full article »
Colt Technology Services expands fibre network in four CEE cities

UK-headquartered Colt Technology Services said that it is expanding its IQ fibre network in Bucharest, Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia as part of its plan for expansion in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

 Read Full article »
SAP Romania brings the cloud procurement solution SAP Ariba on local market

SAP Romania, the local subsidiary of the world's largest business software maker, has launched the SAP Ariba Snap program for the domestic market to support the digitization of specific procurement activities.

 Read Full article »
The software industry's input in Romanian economy was 5.4 billion Euro in 2018

According to the latest analysis of KeysFin, 17,000 companies operating in the Romanian software industry generate EUR 5.4 billion in turnover and employ 106,000 people generates 5.4 billion Euro in 2018 in Rom

 Read Full article »
Atos launches construction of global R&D Lab to drive innovation in Quantum Computing

Atos, global leader in digital transformation, officially launches the start of the construction of its new global Research & Development Lab dedicated to research in quantum computing.

 Read Full article »
Softelligence launches its own Academy to form specialists in insurance and banking

Specialized in business software development, Romanian company Softelligence announced it plans to increase its team by 50 per cent in the next two years, by hiring 100 to 150 new colleagues, the company announ

 Read Full article »
Romanian IT group Bittnet issued new bonds were traded on BSE

A new series of corporate bonds issued by Romanian IT group Bittnet Systems was admitted to trading on the main market of the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB).

 Read Full article »
Deloitte report: Two billion youth risk of being left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution workforce

Almost two billion youth worldwide risk of being left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) workforce, which is changing at an increasingly rapid pace as a result of the emerging technologie

 Read Full article »
 
 
MOST READ ARTICLES
» Endava expands its IT team in Republic...
» The most appreciated companies from th...
» Workplaces, keeping up with the times
» CrowdStrike opens a new center of inno...
» Softelligence launches its own Academy...
» Oracle and KPMG study shows data secur...
» ROMANIAN OUTSOURCING AWARDS FOR EXCELL...
» Oracle goes to Oregon Park, the buildi...
» Atos and Transilvania University launc...
» Romania leads in top of countries with...
 
EDITOR CHOICE
How Tech-ready are companies?

Technology has made it easier and faster than ever to prepare, anticipate, implement, and get the job done for everyone, from the simple technology home user to all levels and departments of a corporation. Howe

 Read Full article »
Workplaces, keeping up with the times

For a company, being people-centric is a way of doing business and engaging employees in the company's operations and strategies in a way that provides a positive employment experience before and after the sell

 Read Full article »
Creating a valuable customer experience driven by core values of a company

As HR becomes more and more integrated within the company's long-term strategic business strategies, the digitalization and high-technologies impacting the processes also have to be mirrored at the level of HR

 Read Full article »
Ergonomics in practice - 5 tips for better health at work

Ergonomics is so much more than standing up during the day and sitting correctly. There are so many factors in our environment which also have an effect on our health, and influence our wellbeing at work. The

 Read Full article »
Technology, Mobility and Wellness make for the perfect workplace

The technology binge is pushing ahead the communities, businesses and all aspects related to work and workplaces in such a fast manner that we haven't noticed since the very booming of the office market. And as

 Read Full article »
Latest News  
 
about us | newsletter | contact | members area | GDPR policy
Copyright © 2015 by Diplomat Media Events Design by Diplomat Media Events