robot army dance from Guinness World Records
Chatbots save customers time and frustration, and they allow you to better use your human agents. However, make sure you anticipate all possible scenarios. PHOTO: Guinness World Records

The customer experience model of today looks different than it did even five years ago, yet certain pillars of customer experience remain. 

With the introduction of any new tool for customer engagement, you must strive to make experiences more personal, available and efficient.

Many organizations today struggle to implement new technology, while maintaining that human touch we all yearn for when dealing with organizations. To face this head-on, companies need to remember that innovations in technology should always augment the overall human element -- not necessarily replace it.

Case in point: Artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbots. When implemented strategically, they can help enhance their customer experience by changing business processes and making customer service functions more seamless. 

Chatbots can help streamline overall productivity across contact centers. While chatbots won’t replace humans any time soon, they can help save time for customers while allowing agents to dedicate their time to more complex interactions.

If you're considering chatbots in your contact center, take a hard look at why you're implementing these tools and how they will help your organization achieve success. These four questions are key to avoiding a complex implementation that adds more costs than value:

1. Why Do You Want to Implement a Chatbot?

Chatbots can improve contact center operations. However, the technology is still evolving and must be carefully evaluated and deployed to ensure success. Be sure that chatbots are the right tool for your business. Before taking the plunge, evaluate the cost of deployment and scale the needed skills within your organization. Chatbots can unlock new potential for contact centers, but only when done with the appropriate goals in mind. Chatbots, like other self-service channels, enable 24-7-365 support for customers with basic questions who are looking for fast responses.

2. How Can You Make Sure Your Chatbot Is Actually Intelligent?

Your chatbot is only as good as the underlying data it's built on, so evaluate if you have an effective foundation. This involves mining and collating vast amounts of data derived from many systems. This includes reviewing prior customer interactions,  understanding the types of questions asked and ensuring the correct answer is documented. With this information, your organization can better address the complexity of questions, and ensure that there is a correct answer available for the chatbot to provide customers.

3. Can Every Customer Can Benefit From the Chatbot?

For a customer, being misunderstood during an interaction is frustrating and reflects poorly on your brand’s reputation. The prevalence of social media and flattening of the consumer world means more brands are dealing with more diverse customers. To address this, your contact center must provide service to customers across all languages and geographies. By layering a customized translation solution on top of the chatbot, you can provide support across all languages, regardless of what language the chatbot was trained in.

4. When Is It Time to Shift a Customer Interaction From a Chatbot to a Live Agent?

Chatbots are not something you should set and forget.They need to be continually monitored and evaluated to make them smarter, as well as to determine the tipping point for when a customer engagement should move from bot to agent. Customer problems come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of how much a bot understands, there will always be instances when an interaction needs to be handled by a human agent. The chatbot must be able to determine sentiment to know when a customer is frustrated and needs to talk to a live agent.

Contact centers must embrace new technology, but with every deployment should come a period of intensive evaluation — all with the goal of enhancing the customer experience at the center of every decision. Our increasingly connected world offers an abundance of new customer opportunities for businesses, but this expanding and diversified customer base comes with challenges. Regardless of industry or company size, customers expect seamless, efficient responses to their questions.

The human point of contact is always important in customer engagement, but tools like chatbots will play a key role in augmenting the traditional customer experience. Organizations that take a thoughtful approach to deploying chatbots will not only alleviate challenges for inundated contact centers, but also enhance support, reduce costs and provide unprecedented customer experiences for every customer they touch.