“Chatbots are dumb”. “No one uses chatbots”. “It would take a lot of time to launch a chatbot”. 

People’s perceptions around chatbots—how effective they are, or how cost-effective and easy they are to build—vary widely and wildly. 

Rather than let these assumptions continue unchecked, we thought we’d put them to the test and challenge them based on our research. 

Because the best business leaders we know don’t  take everything at face value, but instead question and probe to get to the heart of the matter.

What follows is a closer look at how the key findings from our recent market insights research dispel four central assumptions about chatbots.

Fact vs. fiction: Chatbot edition

Many organisations with contact centres struggle with the decision to extend support options to include a chatbot. 

  • Do they have adequate resources? 
  • Will the chatbot integrate with and augment the current offering, or automate people out of jobs? 
  • Finally, will the agent and customer experience suffer? 

All wise questions to ask. Which brings us to the four central findings of our report:

Most contact centres shy away from chatbots simply because they’re settled in their ways.

Our report found a medium-high level of inertia among respondents to continue with their current solution versus switching to a chatbot.

What does that current approach look like? Some mix of phone and webchat, as one might expect, alongside some form of website support. Many contact centre teams have used this approach for so long that they can’t imagine making a change.

Many contact centre leaders we speak to frame the conversation as a wholesale changeover, as if they’ll flip a switch, cut the phones and email, take all human support agents offline and send them packing, then stand up a chatbot in their stead.

In reality, the best chatbot solutions augment the current approach rather than replace it.

For example, we at Clevertar help contact centres deploy conversational AI tools in areas that are currently not well serviced by humans, such as after-hours requests, or low-touch, high-volume cases that don’t require human interaction to resolve.

Our report also found a medium-high level of perceived effort to adopt a chatbot in the contact centre. Leaders worry that they won’t have the internal resources needed to deploy the chatbot or integrate it with other systems.

The truth is that it’s possible to implement conversational AI in the contact centre without significant reliance on IT resources or development.

For instance, we’re developing new ways to automate the creation of support conversations without too much human effort, and our web widget easily integrates with other solutions.

You might file assumptions #1 and #2 under negative emotion. Indeed, our report revealed a medium-high level of negative emotion toward the adoption of a chatbot.

The main reason? Too many website and IVR customer support chatbots fail, or they only work for niche applications and audiences.

As a chatbot provider working with organisations all around Australia, we’re well aware of all the ways that traditional chatbots have fallen short.

We’re also keenly aware of the importance of outstanding customer service, both in terms of brand image and overall customer experience.

In truth, not all chatbots are created equal. Not even close.

What customers found disappointing with previous chatbot experiences may no longer be the case. For our part, we’ve developed non-traditional applications for AI chatbot technology that break this mould. An accurate and efficient handoff from AI to live agent chat, for example. 

Again, the idea is to augment existing workflows, rather than replace them outright.

This is a big one. Organisational buy-in is an important part of adopting a chatbot. Yet our report found that the level of reactance toward the adoption of a chatbot, at least by operational teams, is relatively low. This is likely due to the minor impact that a proper chatbot has on existing support workflows.

Also, most contact centre teams already use the website to help customers, so they’re regularly sending feedback to other business units.

Which is all to say that the climb to attaining organisational buy-in might not be as steep as some perceive. Our guidance is to look for chatbot vendors that prioritise collaboration between support, digital marketing, and other teams. 

Ask for financial impact/ROI statements and case studies, too—material you can use to secure buy-in from the corporate leaders that hold the purse strings.

Chatbots win (If you want it)

It’s clear from our recent research that people feel all kinds of ways about chatbots.

Contact centre leaders still wonder if chatbots are dumb or smart, cost-effective or too expensive. They worry about the friction they’ll face during development, or while securing internal buy-in.

Finally, they end up asking the age-old question: should we implement a chatbot or not?

We think it’s the wrong question.

Because it really comes down to business needs and where a chatbot might fit into the picture. Laying our assumptions aside, we often find that it’s less about “to chatbot or not,” and more about asking, “what do we need out of a chatbot in our contact centre?”

Which begs the next question: what can chatbots do for contact centres that we’ve never even considered, or assumed impossible?

The answers might surprise you.

To read about some of our leading chatbots and the way they’ve helped organisations big and small handle more conversations with customers, click here.

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