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
Atos ranked in Top Five for Managed Security Services, Worldwide by Gartner

Atos, a global leader in digital transformation today announces that it has been ranked amongst the top 5 global players in Managed Security Services (MSS) in terms of 2017 market share revenue, according to th

 Read Full article »
Endava has been selected as an official AWS Well-Architected partner

Further strengthening its partnership with Amazon Web Services, Endava reinforces its Cloud services expertise and capabilities becoming an AWS Well-Architected Partner, the company announced.

 Read Full article »
Smartree Romania has a new operational director

Smartree Romania, providing HR services on the Romanian market names Anamaria Borza as the new operational director of the company, effective July, 1 this year. The new manager of Smartree team occupied the pos

 Read Full article »
ABSL Romania: Sibiu, a continuously evolving market, with great potential

Sibiu is a market with huge potential and constantly expanding, is one of the conclusions from "Outsourcing in 2018. Best Practices in Technology Adoption" conference, which was dedicated to the local business

 Read Full article »
Accenture assigns 200 mln. US dollars to digital age-focused education, training and skills initiatives in the next 3 years

Supporting its vision to improve the way the world works and lives, Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is committing more than 200 million US dollars over the next three years to help equip people around the world with job

 Read Full article »
Oracle: Customer connection missing as manufacturers yet to produce rewards from industry 4.0

Research of global manufacturers developed by Oracle with research company Coleman Parkes shows initial Industry 4.0 focus has been on internal changes rather than removing supplier, distributor and customer si

 Read Full article »
Nine solutions for smart cities delivered at Code4Cluj hackathon of Endava

The Code4Cluj hackathon organized by Endava at Cluj-Napoca between 18-20th of May generated 9 innovative projects meant to solve the problems faced by the community and citizens of Cluj.

 Read Full article »
Zitec's digital marketing division registered an increase of over 40 per cent last year

Zitec, a major provider of business solutions, digital services and personalized technology products in Romania, announced it registered an increase of over 40 per cent in the digital marketing segment in 2017,

 Read Full article »
Fab Lab Iasi issues the Report on Coworking in Central and Eastern Europe

This report was conducted by the PIN Maps teams (Iasi's modern office map, an impact initiative for the IT & Outsourcing industry) and Fab Lab Iasi (a 700 sqm coworking space, opened in 2017).

 Read Full article »
CBRE: the first two buildings in Timpuri Noi Square are leased over 90 per cent

CBRE announced three new tenants in TN Offices 1 and TN Offices 2 of Timpuri Noi Square, reaching over 90 percent take-up of the first two buildings in this office project.

 Read Full article »
 
 
MOST READ ARTICLES
» Committed to growth
» The Outsourcing industry announces its...
» ROMANIAN OUTSOURCING AWARDS FOR EXCELL...
» Zitec's digital marketing division reg...
» PwC: The competitive advantages of Rom...
» Luxoft expands Asia Pacific presence w...
» EXCLUSIVE: ABSL Timisoara - BPO and SS...
» How giving back pays dividends for com...
» Olga Botusan, Stefanini: There is a hu...
» How does leadership look today?
 
EDITOR CHOICE
Andrei Romanescu CEO, VEEAM, on the importance of people skills and leadership forming

Within the recently ended OT Learning & Development roundtable edition, Andrei Romanescu CEO, VEEAM stated that he trends of the current and following years underline the importance of people skills and leaders

 Read Full article »
OT Learning & Development: About capitalizing on self-willingness to reach performance

How to succeed in reaching the young and the valuable employees and wining their hearts and minds, so they will forever be committed to gain knowledge, evolve in profession and build a strong career inside the

 Read Full article »
OT Learning & Development now, about digital transformation, facilitating a culture of change and innovation

Some trends are here to stay, while some other may not. How about gamification, chatbots, microlearning, data analytics, mobile learning, augmented reality and others? Today's edition of OT Learning & Developme

 Read Full article »
The need of the industry to stay effective and relevant

In the current context of machinery and AI helping on operational processes of a company, with extended applicability in terms of capabilities, the digital context in which professionals, organizations and busi

 Read Full article »
We meet again at OT Learning & Development on June 7th

The Second Edition of OT Learning & Development roundtable will be held on June 7, 2018 at InterContinental Hotel Bucharest. The event brings together the business services professionals to discuss and discover

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