Are Chatbots a Contact Center Enhancement or an Agent Replacement?

Are Chatbots a Contact Center Enhancement or an Agent Replacement?

chatbotsWhile chatbots aren’t a new technology, they’ve only recently become a large part of the customer service landscape. Companies around the world embrace bots for their ability to handle everyday customer interactions without the need for human intervention.

 

Even if a chatbot can only give preprogrammed responses based on preset triggers, they are still impressive. Plus, they seemingly become more capable each day, especially with the growth of natural language processing technology.

 

As bots become increasingly robust, some may begin to wonder, are chatbots a contact center enhancement or an agent replacement? While some of this is spurred by fears that robots will take over certain jobs, some of it isn’t. Artificial intelligence (AI) is more capable now than it was just a few years ago, so it isn’t out of the question that bots could effectively serve as agents.

 

If you want to know what the future holds for chatbots and contact center agents, here’s what you need to know.

 

Why Chatbots Aren’t a Replacement Today

 

In many cases, a contact center customer interaction involves a typical question or issue. The majority of calls likely don’t require anything outside the standard to handle, allowing them to end quickly with a high rate of satisfaction.

 

Often, it’s those everyday contacts that are ideal for chatbots. The questions or problems are common, and the responses are well defined.

 

However, that doesn’t mean you can forgo your contact center agents and replace them with bots. First, not all customers are comfortable interacting with bots or the technologies that house them. For example, you can’t expect every customer to reach out on Facebook or head to your website when they need assistance, as some will continue to favor the phone.

 

Plus, just as many have a disdain for telephone auto-attendants, some customers will feel the same way about chatbots. This is especially true if there is a chance they could get stuck in a circular set of menus, or there isn’t a clear path to reach a person.

 

Second, some issues or requests are too complex for today’s chatbots. Some require some savvy responses, a degree of empathy, and creative thinking to resolve. Since bots aren’t that adept yet, you can’t expect them to handle these interactions. You’ll need agents available in these instances.

 

Using Chatbots as a Contact Center Enhancement

 

Since chatbots can take care of many common issues or respond to frequently asked questions, they are a great contact center enhancement. For customers that are comfortable using them, bots can be a great way to get simple answers quickly.

 

Plus, a chatbot can always gather initial information and then relay complex requests to an agent. The customer service rep can review the customer’s answers to the chatbot’s questions and then take over from there.

 

Ultimately, chatbots can free up your agents, giving them more time to handle complex issues that genuinely require their attention. Your customers also benefit, as answers to simple questions are immediately accessible, and wait times for an agent for complex problems (or those who just prefer interacting with a person) can go down.

 

As a result, bots shouldn’t be viewed as an agent replacement. Instead, chatbots are an amazing contact center enhancement, one that many companies should embrace.

Nathan Weatherford

Nathan is in charge of Marketing & Business Development at VocalPoint Consulting. Launching new marketing initiatives, planning for events, meeting with clients and providers is all part of the job.

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