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Chatbots: Recognizing Their Limits for Customer Service

Today’s customer expects 24/7 service and wants quick responses from brands. While many brands use an omnichannel strategy to meet customers on their preferred channels, many also integrate AI-powered chatbots into their strategy. Chatbots can help brands enable self-service, better manage contact center resources by increasing agent availability, save customers time, and drive customer satisfaction when used correctly. The challenge lies in implementing chatbots efficiently and striking a balance with human support—an emotional connection that customers continue to seek.

The Benefits of Chatbots

Chatbots can offer multiple benefits for customer service, including:

Assisting customers with simple requests

According to Gartner, having relevant and quick self-service increases customer satisfaction by 12%. For this reason, many companies consider chatbots an essential tool for enabling self-service. Customers are happy to save time by finding answers or completing tasks on their own such as checking an account balance or delivery status.

 

Driving sales

Chatbots can offer the assistance needed when making purchases. Customers may want to check item availability, browse for a specific product, or complete a purchase or reservation. Chatbots can use AI intelligence to make personalized recommendations based on the customer’s preferences and make it easy for customers to complete the purchase process. A 2020 Userlike survey found that 68% of customers like chatbots because they provide quick answers. Time is of the essence for customer service, and having chatbots ready to help undecided customers is critical to driving sales and winning loyalty.

Saving agents time

Agents are under constant pressure to manage multiple channels while offering quality service. Chatbots allow them to devote more time to other channels and to complex customer interactions that require a human touch or in-depth product knowledge. For example, frustrated customers may need more information about products they have purchased and may need the compassion and understanding that only human agents can offer. Chatbots, on the other hand, can handle simple requests that ultimately save customers time with faster service.

Creating a modern, customer-centric brand image

Customers want brands to move with them into the future, not stick to old ways that no longer serve them. Chatbots embrace modern technology that is designed to help make customers’ lives easier. When brands use chatbots, they project the image that they are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and better serve their customers. They are acknowledging the fact that customers want to save time and use self-service.

Chatbot Limitations

Despite chatbots’ many benefits, brands must take note of their limitations as well:

They don’t understand human emotions

Chatbots are unable to recognize and show emotions. While AI can help them identify emotional language a customer may use, they cannot offer empathy as a human would. They can only offer the solution that their programming allows them to. An emotional connection is more important than ever for customers, especially in light of the current pandemic. A 2020 CGS Survey found that more than a third of customers considered being able to speak to an agent a critical factor for a successful customer service interaction.

They cannot help with customer retention

When customers are especially upset or angry, chatbots’ inability to respond properly can tremendously impact customer retention. Customers who have already lost patience with a brand need to be heard and understood. If the customer is transferred, it may be too late—more time has been wasted explaining a problem that a chatbot simply cannot understand.

They cannot make decisions

Human agents are able to weigh many options when a customer needs to resolve a problem. The situation may be complex and require checking in with other agents or consulting customer history to find a solution. In the process, an agent can ask the customer how he feels about the solution proposed and consider those feelings when making an offer. Chatbots, on the other hand, cannot make decisions. They can only offer a limited number of responses without taking into account a customer’s feelings, meaning that they may offer an inadequate resolution.

Simple chatbots offer repetitive, automated responses

Simple chatbots, as opposed to AI-powered chatbots that learn as they go, are designed to offer pre-determined answers to a specific list of questions. These chatbots may therefore not understand what a customer is requesting and offer repetitive answers. They may provide the wrong information or simply not enough information. Ultimately, simple chatbots may be unable to resolve a customer’s problem. The lack of personalized service and wasted time can lead to customer frustration and churn. A 2021 Go Moxie survey found that 60% of customers don’t trust chatbots to communicate effectively, with only 22% claiming to have a positive impression of chatbots.

Chatbots have many benefits for customer service, but brands should be careful to integrate them into a larger omnichannel strategy that offers a mix of automation and human support. By using chatbots wisely, brands may ensure that customers receive efficient answers to simple requests while still relying on human agents for more emotional and complex situations.

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