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To Chatbot or Not to Chatbot?

October 18, 2017

It is impossible to ignore chatbots if you are even remotely following the customer care industry. They seem to be everywhere. Some tech publications even called 2016 ‘the year of chatbots’ and 2017 ‘the year when chatbots will actually make customers more productive.’ All praises and criticism aside, let’s see what a chatbot is, what it’s good for and where it falls short.

What are chatbots?

Largely, chatbots are the automated or pre-programmed interfaces, deployed over various messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, WeChat, etc. Some even stretch the definitions of chatbots to include Amazon Alexa skills or Google home applications. But it’s important to remember that chatbots are only as smart as the technology behind them. Chatbots can be great for some basic tasks. But when it comes to enterprise-scale customer care that operates in prime time, chatbots have a lot to learn.

What are chatbots good for?

Chatbots can automate simple, repetitive tasks — such as answering basic queries (hours of operation, looking at the product catalogs, answering FAQs). There are over 30,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone and over 80% of them answer simple rule-based queries. Chatbots are good for keeping the customer base engaged and driving traffic to more mature channels of customer care.

Where do they fall short?

Chatbots fall short in answering complex customer care queries. We all know that the modern consumer expects personalized, intelligent and efficient customer service regardless of the channel. They have little to no patience when it comes to bad self-service. A majority of the chatbots on the market today lack a solid foundation of natural language processing and fail to understand the intricacies of spoken or typed human language. Some of them also lack an advanced dialog management engine and fail to understand stacked customer queries or maintain context over conversation.

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These are just some of the considerations that you need to take into account when deciding whether chatbots are right for your business, your customers and the particular use cases. We have just scratched the surface of this topic. But we want to help you evaluate the options as you plan to revolutionize your customer care in 2018.

Join Interactions Phil Gray and DMG Consulting’s Donna Fluss in an on-demand webinar to learn more.

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