2016 has so far been an exciting year in technology. Virtual and augmented reality has finally entered the mainstream, driverless cars are trending, and the world of chatbots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning has exploded.
Amidst all the buzz is concern that we, as a society, are losing our human touch. These thoughts were expressed recently in a VentureBeat article by Gadi Shamia, COO of Talkdesk.
Shamia goes into great detail about the limitations of chatbots in the customer service experience, and how humans will never be replaced by bots. For businesses exploring how they can best use automated customer services like chatbots, the article is an insightful, highly-recommended read. Because while chatbots can significantly reduce costs and add real value to the customer experience, they still fall short of a standalone, comprehensive solution.
“Although a good chatbot will give you the illusion that you are interacting with another human, it will never be able to fully understand the subtle nuances of human emotion.”
The role of empathy in customer interactions
One of the biggest factors impacting successful customer service is empathy. The great brands – think Zappos – deliver exceptional service thanks to a team of human beings who can relate, connect and empathize with customers. Chatbots will never be able to match this level of service.
Before implementing any chatbot technology, businesses need to consider the impact on the customer. It goes without saying that the new customer experience, with a chatbot in use, must be an improvement on what was already in place. The whole idea of chatbots is to make it easier for customers to get service and interact with businesses.
But this is something that even the most technological advanced companies are still coming to terms with. In his article, Shamia uses Microsoft’s chatbot Tay as a perfect example of when things can go wrong.
“If a customer service chatbot were to learn inappropriate commands like Tay, it could have a serious negative impact on the company’s brand. More insidious, if a bot became patently unhelpful without being openly offensive, it could cause frustration for an extended period of time without being flagged as doing so.”
Chatbots and humans working together
Effective chabot and automation strategies are customer-centric. They focus first on what customer problems can be resolved easily and efficiently, then they explore how the business can benefit. With a customer-centric strategy, businesses can quickly see how chatbots are best used in conjunction with human agents.
The combination of chatbots and humans is important in establishing trust with customers, and eliminates the shortcomings of the chatbot. The optimal outcome is for customers to be able to get the information they need when they need it, and be able to engage a human agent when required.
“Chatbots must be taught the same core principle that is taught to all customer service representatives: Know when to escalate. Bots should recognize situations in which customers require human intervention and be equipped with tools that allow them to do so seamlessly.”
You can read Gadi Shamia’s article in its entirety on VentureBeat.