Are chatbots ruining the customer service experience?

Customer experience is quickly becoming one of the most important things for businesses to consider. But there are many different levels to this and addressing them all can get expensive. 

Focusing on delivering quality customer service is one of the most effective and efficient ways of improving the overall customer experience. It’s your chance to treat people like royalty, and an opportunity to make a favorable impression that will last.

Chatbots have become a popular way of managing and improving customer service. They help answer common questions quickly, and they offer some nice data to help you understand your audience. But is bringing automation into something so personal really the right move? Let’s take a look at the effect chatbots are having on the customer service experience.

The argument for chatbots

Immediacy

When we look at things from a customer perspective, chatbots offer something really valuable: they’re fast. If I have a quick or common question, I don’t want to sit on hold if I can simply type in my question and have the answer in seconds.

An effective chatbot is essentially a more responsive FAQ page. FAQ pages encourage people to look up the answer to their question on their own instead of taking up customer service reps’ time. But the problem with an FAQ page is that it’s finite. A chatbot can respond to a lot more enquiries.

From a company perspective, this time savings is huge because it means customer service reps won’t have to waste time dealing with simple questions. Instead, they can focus on helping customers with more comprehensive problems, making these people happier.

Data

One thing we often don’t think about with chatbots is the immense amount of information they collect. Just by registering someone’s IP address you can collect lots of data about your audience’s demographics.

But the value of the data chatbots collect goes beyond this. For example, these bots will automatically record common problems. This will make it much easier for you as a company to identify concern areas. You can then dedicate more time to these issues, potentially eliminating them all together, which will help to improve your overall customer experience.

Of course, this data could be collected using humans, but it’s far less streamlined and efficient than doing it with a bot.

The argument against chatbots

Loss of personal touch

People like knowing they are talking with other people. We all know how frustrating it is when we call a customer service line and then have to wind our way through automated menus. Sometimes you get to a point where you scream, “I just want to talk to a person!”

In some ways, chatbots are just an extension of this oft-hated technology. But you have to question if this is really ruining the customer service experience. For one, the initial response to chatbots has been rather positive, with more people reporting a positive experience than a negative one. And since you don’t need to rely on expensive voice recognition software, it’s far easier for chatbots to accurately interpret your question and deliver a response than an automated phone operator.

If you use a chatbot, you’ll want to make sure you also have ways for people to easily contact real people in your customer service department. If you do this, it’s difficult to see how chatbots are really hurting the experience.

They’re annoying

It seems every time you enter a website, your computer beeps and a chat window pops up at the bottom of the screen. Then by the time you fight down the requests to give your email address and turn off your ad blocker, you’re mad and don’t want to spend more time on the site.

This is definitely a concern. If you’re interested in delivering a quality experience, then you need to keep this stuff in mind. Perhaps make the chatbot something someone needs to click on to open or make your other popups less intrusive so that people don’t need to deal with this information overload.

In the end, if your chatbot is causing people to feel this way, the problem is more likely to be with the way you’ve integrated it into your site than with the chatbot itself.

The verdict

When you look at the different arguments for and against chatbots, saying they are ruining the customer service experience inaccurately portrays the effect this technology can have on your business. Sure, there are some pitfalls to keep in mind, but overall, the benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks. If you’re considering using a chatbot, make sure it integrates well into your site, but besides that, you should find it to be a nice addition to your customer service capabilities.


Caroline is a freelance marketing consultant and writer. Currently, she’s working with JavaPresse and is passionate about their message. Caroline spent years in marketing and communications departments for large companies before going out on her own.

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