Are chatbots ousting human support consultants? You’d be forgiven for thinking so with all the chatter online about generative AI. However, a recent study by Capterra showed that only 3% of consumers prefer to speak to a chatbot. However, 42% still like being able to phone in, and 39% prefer instant chat with a human.
To research this further, we spoke to Daria Leshchenko, the CEO and partner at supportyourapp.com — Support-as-a-Service company that provides secure technical and customer support to tech companies and startups. We asked Daria for her opinion on the recent Capterra study based on her extensive experience in the industry, and she had some interesting insights.
Daria referred to the COVID pandemic as a trial by fire for many companies. The lockdowns and other safety measures meant companies onboarded technology like chatbots at a rapid rate. Daria states that, unlike many other businesses, SupportYourApp saw a distinct rise in new customers.
While many firms saw chatbots as a way to save money and improve efficiency, implementing the technology effectively was challenging. Modern chatbots are not up to the task of replacing human consultants.
Chatbots today are far more advanced than their predecessors. By incorporating natural language programming, developers have made them more lifelike. However, consumers can still easily distinguish between a real person and a bot. There are also some significant disadvantages to having bots handle customer service interactions.
Chatbot support is not the perfect solution for every business or customer. Some customers may prefer to speak with a human representative because:
- They feel more comfortable communicating with a person.
- The issue they are facing is too complex for a chatbot to handle.
- Some clients need a sympathetic ear.
In these cases, businesses should allow the client to speak to a live person.
Another potential issue with chatbot support is that it can sometimes produce inaccurate or incomplete answers. While bots are becoming more sophisticated, they still need to be improved through data and programming. If a client asks a question that the chatbot does not understand, it cannot provide a helpful response.
The danger here is that the bot wastes the client’s time and risks frustrating them. Many clients will allow a company some leeway if they resolve the issue promptly. However, having to scroll through an inane conversation with a bot only to repeat the query to a consultant is annoying.
Companies using chatbots successfully have a blend of human and AI support. For example, they may use AI to direct calls and answer simple queries, but the client always has the option to speak to a consultant.
By offering this mix, companies allow clients to become accustomed to using this technology. As consumers become comfortable with it, AI will play a more significant role in the customer service experience.
However, for that to happen, AI must replicate the human experience more precisely. It must also provide detailed answers to complex problems, something which is currently outside of its reach.
Chatbots have several advantages because they allow firms to provide customer service 24/7, handle a high volume of customer inquiries, and save money on customer service. Companies can also use this technology to answer frequently asked questions and guide users through processes.
However, there are better solutions for some businesses or customers. Firms should refrain from forcing their clients to use technology they are unwilling to use. Companies must allow customers to speak with a human representative if they choose.
Additionally, chatbot support can sometimes produce inaccurate or incomplete answers, so businesses should be prepared to handle those situations as well.