looming silos

Chatbots are the new apps — and no, that's not hyperbole. 

According to a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey, Salesforce, Drift and myclever, consumers believe Chatbots to be 35 percent better than apps at answering both complex questions, and better than apps in 5 of the 10 specific use cases they looked at. 

The same survey revealed that 15 percent of participating consumers had engaged with a chatbot in the past 12 months, and they consider chatbots to be best suited for the following purposes.

  • 24 hour service (64 percent)
  • Getting an instant response (55 percent)
  • Answers to simple questions (55 percent)
  • Easy communication (51 percent)
  • Helping find human service assistance (34 percent)

However, only 9 percent of consumers find that chatbots come in handy when purchasing expensive items. The study attributes the fact that 30 percent of consumers surveyed worry about the chatbot making a mistake. And yet, a separate study, carried out by eGain and Chatbots.org, revealed that it’s not necessarily chatbot errors that are causing issues — but chatbot silos. This report's responses were compiled from 3000 consumers who had used a chatbot in the previous 12 months.

According to the results of this survey, 59 percent of respondents (62 percent in the US and 55 percent in the UK) found that having to repeat information and context to a human agent in the event of escalation from chatbots was the biggest hassle by far in using virtual assistants.

Related Article: Top 14 Chatbot Building Platforms of 2017

Chatbot Silos: An Example

An organizational silo is something most professionals can grasp. It’s a communication and collaboration barrier between departments that hinder progress on multiple levels. Chatbot silos on the other hand, is a relatively new concept. Here’s an example of how a chatbot silo might frustrate a customer.

A customer opens a conversation with her internet service provider’s chatbot, which asks for her full name and account number. The chabot then asks a security question, which the consumer gets right. The customer wants to know if the company can send out an engineer to fix the router located at her business address, which is the second address on her account. The chatbot asks the customer if she has tried troubleshooting her problem using the router’s manual. She says that she has, but none of the steps solved her problem. The chatbot then reassures the customer that an engineer can be sent out, and that a human customer support operator will now take over to arrange the call out.

Once the human operator arrives, the customer is asked again for her name, her account number and is posed the same security question. Then, she is asked if she has cycled through the steps in the router manual to troubleshoot the problem. After she re-explains herself, the operator then asks her what time she would like the engineer to arrive at her home address.

Frustrating, and maybe even a little familiar, right? Similar to the disconnect between departments in the case of organizational silos, the disconnect between the chatbot and the human operator leads to a poor customer experience. So, what’s the solution?

Related Article: Dismantling Data Silos Isn't Just a Tech Challenge, It's About Meeting Customer Needs

Breaking Down Chatbot Silos

First things first, you’ll want to ensure is that your chatbot software allows human operators to monitor conversations and jump in at the click of a button — which is a feature of the vast majority of options on our list of top chatbot solutions.

With this feature, brands will be able to better follow the advice of Pradeep Kumar Vice President of Technology Innovation at India-based Robosoft Technologies. “Make sure that you track and monitor the [user’s conversation with your chatbot] so that you can continue the conversation from where they left off — rather than asking for all the details again.”

According to Brian Sathianathan, Chief Digital Officer at Mountain View, Calif.-based Iterate.ai, brands need to, ”understand the importance of integrating chatbots into your existing back end systems — chatbots [shouldn’t] exist in a vacuum.”

With those insights in mind, brands should focus on deploying the right technologies that their human operators direct — and ideally live — access to the chatbot’s chatlogs in order to avoid the formation of chatbot silos. Human operators can still divide their team between chats and other tasks, without sacrificing the customer experience.