Your Friday Inspiration

Bots: Do they really have place in customer service.

Until the rise of social media companies could very easily get away with offering poor customer service. CEO's could devise ways of ensuring when customers complained that they got as little as possible. For a long time this poor approach to customer service worked.

But then social media platform's like Facebook and Twitter gave everyone a soapbox from which they could tell the world whenever they experienced an issue with a company. Within a matter of minutes of minutes they can have shared their story with hundreds if not thousands of potential customers. However, if a company is not using these platforms, their concerns and issues often go unheard. Worse still when companies do use these channels but refuse to listen to customer's issues and discuss them on that channel, it can often call us to question why they are even using the platform at all.

Imagine this query could have been solved in the same thread and future customers with the same question would also have a solution. Yet, now the customer faces the dreaded contact form from which he may not receive a response.  But nothing is worse than the dreaded call centre even Amy Schumer agrees.

Another tool that has also gained in popularity has been chat windows. Often this can be a better medium than the phone because answers to problems can often be communicated with minutes even seconds. However, this channel is not without its problems either. As it relies on communication via text, meanings can easily be misunderstood which can leave the customer fustrated. It also assumes that a rep will always be online at the same time as the customer and that they both speak the same language with the same level of fluency.

Yet in spite of these challenges, this truly is one of the most exciting times to be involved with customer service. One of the most new and exciting advancements has been chatbots. In a recent article, The Guardian described chatbots as:

“Chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence. They can transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.”
In recent months we’ve seen Facebook, Kik, and  Apple all discuss bot platforms  that will sit on top of their messengers, since then everyone and anyone has been declaring our bot filled future.

Gigi Peccolo of Customer Thinks has compiled 5 Reasons Why Your Customer Service Should Include Chatbots. In his article he sets out 5 reasons why company's should include bot's as part of their customer service and how bot's can benefit both the company and their customers. He concludes by saying while we all may be open to the idea of bots in our B2C communications. That it is still early days in the chatbot wave the future does look promising.

 of Venture Beat also complied a similar list of benefits of how bots could benefits customers. They list is based around information Lisa gather after speaking with a dozen executives to learn what bot implementations hold the most promise. The executives are at the front lines of bot adoption and, across the board, they pointed to customer service as the starting point. The article discusses 10 ways bots can surprise and delight your customers. Concluding Lisa states that these chatbot's are only the beginning and that in  future bots may soon address a wider range of consumer needs — by anticipating them through service integration and personalization. For example a retailer bot may suggest birthday gifts for your loved ones weeks in advance.

However, it would seem that not everyone is as enthused about bots. Paul Adams VP of Product @Intercom states that while everyone may be talking about the rise of chatbots; we should not forget that humans are pretty good too.  His article BOTS VERSUS HUMANS he takes a serious look at what bots are, their limitations where and when they should be used. He concludes by saying;

When you walk into a store you can have your pick of people to talk to for help. When you open your favorite apps there isn’t a human to be found anywhere. Pretending that bots are humans is impersonal. If customers are in conversation with an entity who they think is a person, but then realise through inevitable technical limitations that it is in fact a bot, how do you imagine they will feel? And how could that feeling ever be good for business?
Bots will augment conversations between humans. They will help answer simple questions in win-win scenarios. But thankfully for everyone, they won’t replace humans any time soon.
Whatever your view on chatbots. Only time will tell how they can truly benefit customer service.  I for one look forward to seeing how we at Cogneto, may be able to use such bots to benefit our customers.

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