By Bob Grohs
Chatbots are becoming increasingly responsible for assisting with customer service queries. Most customers have already used chatbots, whether they are aware of it or not. In a 2021 survey of over 1,000 chatbot users, some 47 percent of respondents said it’s possible they have mistaken a chatbot for a live service agent and another 11 percent said they weren’t sure. Of these users, 69 percent said they would often or always use a chatbot if it could resolve their issue more quickly. Yet, there were still holdouts, showing that even consumers with positive chatbot experiences harbor biases.
Just because consumers have hesitations doesn’t mean businesses should. As the importance of customer support continues to rise, it’s time to dispel any reservations you have about investing in chatbot technology for your business. Here, we will address common chatbot biases, consider misguided perceptions, and discuss why the pros outweigh any cons.
Bias 1: Chatbots Try to Come Off as Real Human Agents
For this first point, we need to delve into the debate surrounding chatbot disclosure. A 2019 study produced evidence of a phenomenon known as the “negative disclosure effect.” When companies disclosed to customers that they were interacting with a chatbot rather than a human, results showed a 79.7 percent reduction in sales. This is due to customers perceiving bots as less knowledgeable and less empathetic.
However, consumers unknowingly interact with chatbots all the time. The same study found undisclosed bots to be just as effective sales agents as proficient human agents. And they were four times as effective as inexperienced agents.
So, what’s the best way forward?
Across-the-board disclosure of bots. Through mass exposure, customers will become accustomed to working with chatbots, and their bias will dissipate. They will learn that positive interactions with chatbots are the new norm. Openly disclosing chatbots will help build trust with your consumer base and ensure ethical chatbot use in sales. Companies should consider naming and depicting their bots in a way that makes it clear to the consumer that they are interacting with artificial intelligence (AI).
Bias 2: Chatbots Don’t Understand Natural Language
This is a common misconception. Leading AI chatbots have built-in intelligence and understand what people mean—what their intent is—regardless of how it’s phrased. This is known as natural language understanding (NLU). In addition, AI chatbots can continue to learn and improve their accuracy in understanding customers over time with their built-in machine learning capabilities.
Chatbots can learn from every chat or email attached to a successful ticket or case resolution. The bots can also pull information from external sources to create optimized answers. These sources are often public knowledge content, such as help centers, FAQs, and manuals.
NLU is already a powerful technology that will only become more sophisticated in the future. Chatbots can learn how to understand misspelled words, and the best ones can even understand poorly phrased questions.
As NLU develops, customers will soon overcome the bias that chatbots can’t understand varied human language.
Bias 3: Chatbots Don’t Provide Relevant Customer Insights
Many businesses use chatbots to answer quick and simple questions, leaving more complex problems to the humans in customer service. As chatbot technology advances and can process more sophisticated cases, you can tap into the data and insights gathered much more efficiently.
Chatbots are a first line of defense in your customer support stack. They can quickly pinpoint issues, gaps in your knowledge base, and product defects. Immediate customer feedback from a chatbot dashboard helps support and customer experience management (CX) leaders understand what their customers are doing in real time and react more quickly and effectively.
Today’s chatbots can identify frequently used words or recurring topics in support tickets and attach search labels or tags to them. This process makes it simpler to categorize queries and issues for easier prioritization and actioning.
Bias 4: Chatbots are Expensive to Install
Installation may seem costly, but only if you are thinking in the short term. In just a few months, the benefits will more than cover the up-front costs.
Integrating chatbots with customer relationship management (CRM) software and other forum software platforms will result in a huge reduction in ticket volume. This can eliminate the need for adding contact center staff or outsourced solutions, even as you grow.
In addition, customers want quick answers. The speedy, accurate responses generated by chatbots mean an increase in satisfied customers who are more loyal and valuable to your brand over the long run.
Fully integrating bots with other platforms and making them available 24/7 will ensure that any small problems will find efficient, easy solutions. This frees up human customer support to respond to more complex, time-consuming issues and to better address spikes in requests during traffic peaks.
It’s Time to Overcome Biases and Invest for the Future
It is understandable to have reservations about how chatbots might impact customer service. But many of the biases we hold toward chatbots are misinformed. In reality, next gen chatbots can be powerful customer service tools that hugely improve the customer experience. Chatbots can hold valuable insight that only AI has the capacity to produce. In addition, with NLU development, their role in customer service is only going to grow.
The installation and integration costs are worth it. Boost customer service with chatbots, and reduce unresolved tickets and customer turnover. Your return on investment will speak for itself.
Bob Grohs is the director of marketing at Solvvy, a next gen chatbot and automation platform. Bob has been in marketing and product management roles at top technology and SaaS companies for twenty years.