The Role of Customer Service Agents in a Chatbot Dominated World
The emergence of AI and other new technologies is making the world more automated, and customer service is no exception. Gartner, a prominent IT research company, predicts that by the year 2020, chatbots will manage 85% of customer service relationships. With chatbots seemingly taking over customer service, will customer service agents still be needed, and if so, how will they fit into this chatbot-dominated world?
Companies are still investing in human resources
Although the trend seems to indicate chatbots taking over the customer service agent role, it won’t happen any time soon. The main reason for this goes back to the customers. They WANT to engage in human interaction. They prefer being able to speak to someone else who can answer any questions they have. Automation will never be able to fully replace the experience of speaking with a customer service agent. This makes human interaction a vital part in high-quality customer experiences. Customer service agents ultimately provide benefits that chatbots cannot, such as empathy and problem solving for complex issues.
Customer service agents will need to have a more complex, diverse skill set
The days of customer services agents reading and answering questions from a script is disappearing as chatbots become more prevalent. The reason being that chatbots will be handling the interactions that can be resolved via scripted answers. Agents will be responsible for handling the deeper issues and be required to think creatively while problem-solving. Customer service agents will also need to adopt sales skills. With the advancement in customer service technology, agents will have the data and tools they need to step in during optimal upselling or cross-selling opportunities. It’s very difficult for chatbots to do this, as every customer situation is different, and it’s seldom evident through text interaction. Chatting through a chatbot can help resolve simple issues but cannot assess a customer’s mood, temperament or willingness to hear more about new opportunities. Trying to upsell or cross-sell through a chatbot may hinder the customer relationship if it’s done at an inopportune time.
Agents give the intimate, personalized experience customers are looking for
Although chatbots have come a long way in regards to personalized customer messaging, nothing can compare to speaking with a polite and knowledgeable human being when receiving answers to questions or issues. Personalized digital experiences occur every day and take place throughout numerous means of communication, including social media channels, ads, emails, and even push notifications via mobile devices. Because of this, personal experience is expected by customers and necessary for a positive customer journey. Chatbots today are intuitive and can provide this to a certain extent, but they can have issues in certain situations. For instance, if a customer changes the focus or intent of their interaction midway through the conversation with a chatbot, the chatbot may have difficulty switching gears from the initial interaction. Customer service agents are able to deal with change much easier and faster and can go with the flow of the conversation. The decreases possible customer frustrations and increases the efficiency at which the call is handled. Another part of a conversation in which chatbots can’t compare to human interaction is intimacy. Obviously, chatbots cannot read a customer’s emotional state like a customer service agent would be able to. A simple conversation, question or even the overall tone of a call could potentially improve how the caller is feeling at that moment. Customers remember these types of interactions and the brands that provided them, making them more likely to be loyal in the future.
Chatbots will act more like assistants to customer service agents
Chatbots are helpful in making customer service interactions more efficient by taking care of the repetitive and mundane tasks service agents would have to do otherwise. Chatbots are able to give customer service agents basic information about initial interactions, allowing the agents themselves to handle more complex issues. Chatbots help reduces the time spent on each interaction and ensures customers go to the right agents for their needs. The ability to give agents important data can help them focus on the interactions that need custom solutions rather than spending time on simple issues that can be resolved without human interaction. Using chatbots alongside customer service agents is the most efficient way to speed up processes, improve scalability and provide high-quality customer experiences.
Benefits of using chatbots alongside customer service agents
There are numerous benefits to utilizing chatbots with traditional customer server agents. As mentioned above, doing so makes customer service interactions and the overall customer experience more efficient. Customer service reps can concentrate on more complex issues that require human interaction and problem solving, allowing contact centers to scale and grow.
Chatbots have the ability to direct customer interactions to find out why they are contacting, then send those customers to the agents or departments best suited for their needs or, if the answer doesn’t require human intervention, give correct answers to the customers. Chatbots can also give agents meaningful analytical data about customers and their behaviors so they can handle interactions quickly and accurately.
Agents can help build the customer relationship
Having a pleasant experience with a customer service rep helps build the customer-to-business relationship, increasing brand loyalty and brand perception. This is something that chatbots or automated responses simply can’t match. This can be done through short, personalized conversations from agent to customer. Customers will remember having a frustration-free interaction with a polite and knowledgeable customer service agent and will continue to do business with that company, possibly even referring others, due to this experience. Nobody will remember the conversation they typed to a chatbot. Companies that embrace excellent customer service through skilled reps will have a much better time retaining current customers and turning those customers into brand loyalists.
Although chatbots and other AI technology are becoming more prominent, they just can’t replace the experience of human interaction. By using this technology with experienced customer service agents, companies will be able to streamline their customer service efforts, making for improved customer experience and customer journey.