Ah, Chatbots. Unfortunately, Inevitable Because Who Wants to Support Customers?

December 2, 2020

Lest one think AI is here to make our lives easier, one should think again. Though the technology may bring new capabilities and insights, users must put in work and surmount frustration to get results. Bizcommunity.com discusses “The Unsuspected Stumbling Blocks of AI for Customer Experience.” Writer Mathew Conn specifically examines the use of chatbots here. He writes:

“While chatbots successfully enable one-to-one conversations with customers through automated interfaces and are a great way to deliver immediate responses, they are not right for any and all customer interactions. The first, and possibly most important failure of chatbots, is a direct result of the organization in question not identifying what customer interactions are right for enhancement with chatbots. … Because chatbots use open source libraries, most won’t be customized to the organization’s specific industry or customers. Pre-trained bots will be limited to their pre-programmed decision path and are limited by the designer or programmer’s understanding of customer behaviors and requests. While chatbots don’t reason, smarter bots can cope better with some language nuances; however, without human judgment, chatbot accuracy will always be limited. Pre-trained chatbots follow a structured conversation plan and can lose the flow fairly easily. With more access to customer history and data, smarter chatbots can ‘learn’ customer preferences. However, to keep context, chatbots need every possible response to every possible customer request.”

The more complex the interaction, the more likely customers will want to converse with a human. It can be useful to begin interactions with a chatbot then shift to a human worker, but a problem can occur when such a shift means changing platforms from a chat window to phone or email. If the company does not maintain consistency across all its channels, the customer must restart their explanation from the beginning. This does not make for a happy customer or, by extension, a good reputation for the business.

Chatbots are not the only AI function that is less of a panacea than vendors would like us to believe. Before investing in any AI solution, businesses should do their research and make certain they understand what they are getting, whether it will truly address their unique needs, and how to make the most of it.

Just cut costs and move on.

Cynthia Murrell, December 2, 2020


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