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Customer Engagement

Chatbots: Customer Service Savior or Time for a Reality Check?

Businesses are hot on AI-powered chatbots, but less than a third of consumers feel as stoked

Sometimes chatbots just get the job done. They can provide quick answers to straightforward questions. But other times chatbots have a hard time capturing the nuances of a situation that’s the slightest unusual. Like automated response systems that grew popular in the ‘90s, chatbots will always have a place in engaging with the customer, whether for sales or support. How big or small a place that will be for chatbots is still to be determined. Some businesses will likely lean too hard on automated bots, especially in the early years.

For his Information Age article about chatbots, Nick Ismail interviewed Peter Watson, co-founder of U.K.-based marketing agency Distract. Watson made the points that chatbots can answer questions quickly and also give businesses the chance to test and measure the effectiveness of messaging.

But enterprises should be wary of relying on bots too heavily as the majority of customers may not be thrilled with the interactions. According to the “2018 AI Customer Experience Report,” reflecting a survey of of more than 5,000 business leaders and consumers and released last summer by connectivity software provider LogMeIn, only 32 percent of consumers believe they experience the best results when interacting with AI-powered chatbots, either as a self-service agent or to assist a human. Still, a solid majority of consumers–74 percent–said they see the potential benefits of chatbots for customer service.

Regardless of where anyone stands on the utility of chatbots, businesses need to take action to improve their customer interactions. In the survey, 83 percent of consumers cited at least one subpar interaction with a business. However, 80 percent of businesses said they believed their customers would favorably review their customer service despite less than half of customer inquiries being resolved within the first interaction.

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