Is Chat Failing Customers? | USA
Is Chat Failing Customers?

Chatbots are becoming an important tool for brands wanting to offer 24/7 support without the need to dramatically ramp up their cost to service customers. Bots can answer customers at anytime of the day or night and offer immediate assistance. But is the use of chat failing customers and if so, then why?

According to research by Forrester, 54 percent of U.S. online consumers believe that interacting with a chatbot will have a negative impact on their quality of life. “Consumers anticipate the worst when engaging with a chatbot today and haven’t yet seen a chatbot that can meet or even exceed those expectations,” reports Forrester analyst Ian Jacobs.

Research from PwC found that 71 percent of U.S. consumers would rather interact with a human than a chatbot or some other automated process. Obviously, that’s not great news for the 80 percent of businesses that already use chatbots, or plan to do so by 2020, according to research from Invoca and Adobe, which is featured in the report, Emotions Win: What Customers Expect in the Age of AI.

So here is the business dilemma. Chatbots do offer a great way to scale up your service level. You can be more responsive and offer support at any hour, but in general customers don’t like using them. At what point do you resist the urge to roll out more chatbots in favor of deploying more human agents in your contact center?

To my mind there is a need to think more strategically about how and why you are serving your customer. The question of how much each customer engagement costs is important, but it should not be your primary driver when making a decision such as when should I be using chatbots? Think first about why the customer is contacting your company.

The driver of the customer contact is in fact what will help you to determine how best to engage. For example, a customer needing their password reset after a failed attempt has no great need for emotion or empathy. They just have a problem and they need it fixed as quickly as possible. In this situation a chatbot would work better than a human because the problem is simple, it requires no emotional connection, and it is best served immediately.

A customer calling their life insurance company to report a loss in the family and their need to make a claim would certainly not want to be handled by a bot. They need the ability of a human to represent that brand, to empathize with their situation and to reassure them that the insurance company can help in their time of loss. I have heard of some American insurance companies (no names to be mentioned here) that have tested out “robot sympathy” in cases like this and then abandoned the idea because nobody wants to be comforted by a robot representing an insurance company.

So I don’t think that chat is failing customers. Customers are being turned off because chatbots are not being used appropriately. Brands need to think about how best to blend digital and human service if they really want to create a memorable experience in all situations.

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