Benefits and Challenges of Chatbots in Customer Service

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“Chatbots and other intuitive software programs are becoming more popular as organizations continue to automate their sales and customer service functions. Customer service bots interact with the customer on behalf of a business, enabling customers to self-serve online by drawing on specific business rules and a knowledge bank to answer common questions and requests,” –

Technology and its myriad applications have undergone constant evolution since the dawn of time. The invention of the wheel and the discovery of fire were seminal landmarks in human history. Subsequently, humankind’s quest for knowledge and resources have spurred many inventions, techniques, systems, and processes. In modern times, advanced software algorithms, known as chatbots, have entered the realm of customer service. This manifestation of software-driven technology has the potential to engineer deep changes in commercial interactions and business conversations. We will explore the benefits and the potential challenges of using chatbots in customer service in the passages below.

Seamless communications represent one of the primary benefits conferred by the use of chatbots. This stems from the fact chatbots are primarily designed to facilitate conversations with consumers through text and voice. This benefit is critical for businesses because it enables commerce to engage with a large number of customers irrespective of time and place. Consequently, customer service becomes a smooth experience for the individual consumer. For instance, a coffee and hot beverages merchant that operates across multiple locations can deploy chatbots to take customer orders. Customers can engage with the business using connected consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets. This instance of using chatbots in customer service removes the customary bottlenecks and constraints such as customer queues inside stores. In addition, this technology helps create a relaxed operating environment for in-store staff. We note the application of digital technology to smoothen the customer experience is priceless in modern service industries.

The march of technology is making modern digital services contextually aware in different operating environments. Chatbots are no exception to this rule. These digital machines are being engineered to field a constant flow of customer concerns, queries, and questions. The primary aim of operating chatbots is to boost customer convenience. For instance, a provider of commercial telecom services can add chatbots in customer service in a bid to help customers calibrate the correct settings for home wireless routers. The chatbot’s internal design enables it to extend assistance to customers of competing service providers. This element of seamless customer service challenges traditional paradigms, while positioning the first service provider to spark customer migrations and gain more customers. We note this instance of agnostic technological assistance is unique to chatbots; this instance also illuminates the true possibilities that can expand the scope of customer service in the digital age.

Chatbots designed for customer service functions can help the modern enterprise in many ways. Modern chatbots can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions, recommend new products, smoothen the sales and customer engagement process, perform simple transactions, and conduct customer surveys. In addition, businesses that deploy chatbots in customer service can automate significantly and reduce the number of employees completing manual tasks. These human employees can focus their energies on complex tasks such as operating as a point of escalation. This increases the return on investment for business enterprises.

Digital media services that cater to the modern consumer can easily deploy chatbots in customer service with a view to deepen customer engagement. Online music services can leverage custom chatbots designed to help music lovers explore product and service inventories. These chatbots offer customers recommendations based on the tastes and preferences of individual customers. They also allow customers to compile separate playlists based on mood, activity, genre of music, etc. This instance clearly demonstrates the efficacy of modern software algorithms in boosting customer interaction and enabling the full play of the possibilities embedded in modern digital services. In light of the above, we may state that chatbots are enabling businesses to interact closely with their customers and create custom experiences for the individual consumer.

Modern chatbots use natural language processing technologies to identify customer problems and recommend solutions. This promises exciting possibilities for customers and consumers when they face issues with product usage or limitations imposed by a service. The use of natural language processing technologies enables customers to interact with a chatbot through voice (as in a conversation). For instance, a chatbot integrated into a digital map service can interact with travelers and guide them to their destination. This is a critical feature in modern travelling because more and more consumers are moving to explore countries, regions, and continents. This instance of using chatbots in customer service demonstrates the clear benefits of using software to aid real life situations.

Brands and businesses may face certain challenges when they use chatbots in customer service. This is natural because chatbot technology is still evolving and far from mature in applications pertaining to the real world. For instance, customers that interact with chatbots through text may type very short sentences, very long sentences, may place incorrect punctuation marks, etc. This creates confusion for the algorithm and it may respond incorrectly. This scenario may inconvenience customers and they may choose to pick up the phone to speak to human customer service representatives. We note advances in technology should refine software algorithms to the point where chatbots gain a better understanding of customer questions and queries. This instance clearly underlines one of the basic challenges in using chatbots in customer service.

Human moods and emotions largely govern social interactions in modern society. This premise holds true in most situations, but may pose problems when human beings interact with a software-driven customer service paradigm. For instance, an irate customer may not use the best choice in vocabulary when interacting with a voice-driven chatbot in a stressful situation. Similarly, a customer that just missed a flight may not text smoothly in his or her interactions with a chatbot deployed by a commercial airline transport operator. In both cases, the chatbot may not respond optimally. This may entail a waste of time for the consumer and may irritate him or her further. In light of the above, we note chatbots cannot relate to human beings and business operators must acknowledge this problem when they deploy chatbots in customer service.

Businesses and their marketing organizations must avoid the temptation to use chatbots as a full-fledged marketing channel. Marketers must resist using chatbots as a tool to transmit push notifications, promotional offers, spam, advertisements, and re-purposed content to consumers and customers. Brands and businesses that choose to use chatbots in customer service must preserve the integrity of this technology. Therefore, chatbots must be deployed exclusively as digital tools that boost customer engagement. This will help consumers to repose their trust in chatbots and help expand the possibilities of meaningful customer engagement.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined in depth some of the benefits and challenges of using chatbots in customer service. The purveyors of modern commerce must understand the nuances of new technology and apply these with a degree of moderation. They must enable the technology to mature sufficiently before rolling out new iterations of algorithms and chatbots. Interesting insights harvested from such technologies can help create better versions, safeguard customer rights, and boost a brand image in competitive markets.

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