Is a ChatBot the fast track to great customer experience?

Aug 14

Is a ChatBot the fast track to great customer experience?

ChatBots. They’re those magical creatures that can take care of your customers 24 hours a day, don’t require a salary and can talk to thousands of people at once. What’s not to love?

But when customers are serviced by a program, not a human can they expect a faster, more satisfying experience? Or does the lack of human understanding leave a sour note?

We take a look at the three most commonly used customer service systems available – ChatBots, Live Chat and Call Centres – to see which one is looking after your customers best, and whether there’s a case for all three.


ChatBots are essentially conversation robots. Most bots that are on the market will answer basic questions or word-for-word requests.


If you have simple questions you get asked again and again by customers then a ChatBot may be for you. Rather than making your customers wait in a call queue they can head online and chat to the bot to get a response.

They’re also available 24 hours a day.

ChatBots can be programmed with brand-friendly language, creating a seamless brand experience. Take Taco Bell’s Tacobot as an example:




Currently bots are only able to answer set, predictable questions. If a customer comes asking a question that isn’t in their database they will tell the customer they can’t help. A frustrating experience and a waste of the customer’s time.

When it comes to language, ChatBots don’t have he ability to pick up tone and subtext in a way that humans can. Picture an unhappy customer typing with sarcasm or anger, and a bot responding by taking them at their word. It doesn’t end well.

Much of the buzz around ChatBots is in machine learning, or AI. While we might not yet be in Terminator territory, the machines are certainly smart and getting smarter all the time. Facebook recently shut down an experimental AI ChatBots when it was discovered that they had developed their own language and were communicating in a way that humans couldn’t understand.


What are ChatBots good for?

ChatBots are great for dealing with basic FAQs, simple online ordering, appointment setting or account enquiries. MasterCard uses Facebook Messenger bot for customers to access account details such as, “How much did I spend on groceries in July.”

By taking care of repetitive, simple questions or orders, ChatBots can leave your other customer service lines, such as your call centre, free to answer urgent or more sensitive customer service issues.


Live Chat

Like ChatBots, Live Chat is great for those situations where customers want a response and they want it now! Customers love immediate access, but that love will quickly disappear if they don’t receive a satisfactory result straight away.


Live Chat provides a more human touch than ChatBots. Agents are better positioned to ‘read between the lines’ of queries that come in. However, as anyone who has sent a sarcastic text message knows, nuances can still be lost.

Agents are also able to service multiple customers at once which can create considerable cost savings.


How often will your Live Chat be manned? When customers go online they expect a 24/7 service. If you aren’t able to provide that you may leave your customers feeling frustrated.

Are your staff equipped to handle chat?

 Some businesses use Live Chat as a means to save on staffing costs. They’re happy to put a member of their office on the chat in addition to their ‘other job’. Issues can arise when the staff member is too busy to attend to the chat, leaving customers waiting. If staff prioritise chat over their other tasks, productivity in other areas may drop.

There is also the issue of training. Many companies make the mistake of putting ‘anyone’ to man Live Chat. This means staff often won’t have the knowledge to answer customer queries then and there.

Unfortunately, no matter which channel you’re on, some conversations with customers can and will go badly. With Live Chat there is nothing to stop disgruntled customers taking a screen shot of the conversation, or even part of a conversation out of context and sharing it online.

Take this example from Amazon. The customer, concerned about an email address that was almost exactly like his reached out to Amazon chat. The agent got off to a bad start by calling the customer by the wrong name and it went downhill from there as the agent took between 5-15 minutes to respond to each message, clearly distracted by other tasks or other customers.



And finally, the customer can never be sure who they are talking to. Imagine a customer who is unhappy with the service the agent is providing. They ask to be transferred to their supervisor. How sure can the customer be that they have been transferred and aren’t still speaking to the same agent? Whether the issue is likely or not, imagined or real, great customer service requires a high-level of trust.


What is Live Chat good for?

Like ChatBots, Live Chat is good for simple questions, FAQs and online ordering. It can also be used for basic account queries. Because of the


Call centres

And then there is the ‘old school’ way. Putting a human at the end of a phone.


Call centres humanise customer service. Customers have the opportunity to talk to a real person, someone who can hear and understand their tone, offer empathy and their full attention.

Agents are usually fully dedicated to servicing customers, not fitting it in with their other tasks. For complex queries they are usually able to get to the crux of the matter and resolve it faster than on chat.


Queue times. The thing that frustrates customers the most – having to wait. When it comes to call centre technology there are several things you can implement to help reduce queue time and have faster, more responsive customer service, such as blended diallers.


What are call centres are good for?

Call centres are ideal for servicing customers with complex requests or satisfying an angry customer. They’re also good for dealing with sensitive personal details which many customers are uncomfortable giving online – such as passwords or account numbers.


Fast track to customer satisfaction?

While ChatBots and Live Chat can appear as a cost-effective way to service customers, it’s important to understand their weaknesses. In an ideal world chat, in either form, would be used as a support mechanism for call centres; answering simple, common questions or taking basic orders to reduce the traffic in call centre queues. With wait times reduced, call centre agents are able to respond to more serious or complex customer concerns on the phone, faster.