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Is it time to replace chatbots with an intelligent alternative?

Are you aware that your customers and prospects are less than enamoured with the purportedly helpful virtual agents, aka chatbots, you’ve deployed in your contact centre? If you answered in the affirmative, you’re far from alone. 

Over the past decade, organisations of all stripes and sizes have turned to this technology to control contact centre costs and expedite the intake and resolution of customer queries and complaints.

In the main, it’s worked well – providing customers stick to the script. Make a simple, carefully worded enquiry, one that the chatbot in question is programmed to answer, and you’ll likely get a straightforward response.

Feel the frustration

Alas, life’s not always like that. Human beings have an annoying habit of asking about things that aren’t in the script and when they do, the aggro begins – generic responses, links to commonly asked questions that don’t cover the issue they’re enquiring about and, at the end of it all, perhaps, the opportunity to leave a message to which a real life, sentient being may respond – eventually.

Ah, chatbots, how helpful and useful they are…said no customer ever, at the conclusion of such an experience!

The problem is, customers don’t tend to walk away feeling ticked off at the technology and its innate deficiencies. 

If you force customers to navigate frustrating conversations with a chatbot, it’s your organisation they’ll be annoyed with and your customer experience they’ll remember as less than stellar.

That’s something organisations can’t afford to have happen, and particularly not in today’s challenging economic times.

The C-X factor

Why not? Because customer experience is very often the factor that determines whether an individual or organisation will remain loyal to your business. 

Unless you’re in the fortunate position of having no direct competitors, it’s likely other suppliers are able to deliver products and services broadly similar to your own, and at equally keen prices.

It’s the customer experience you provide – how adeptly you anticipate your customers’ needs and offer personalised, appropriate products and services to meet them, how quickly you respond to enquiries, and how well you resolve issues as they arise – that’s likely to be your secret sauce: the C-X factor that results in recommendations, referrals and repeat sales.

Hence, businesses that mess customers and prospects around can expect to find themselves cut loose at bewildering speed. A whopping 60 per cent of consumers were unlikely to remain loyal to a company if an interaction with a chatbot didn’t resolve their request and they weren’t transferred to a human agent who could, according to one recent survey.

The AI advantage

The good news is, rudimentary chatbot technology that drives your customers crazy – or into the eager arms of your competition! – need no longer be the backbone of your company’s contact centre. With the rapid evolution of AI technology has come a more sophisticated and superior alternative: Conversational AI.

Unlike chatbots, Conversational AI virtual agents have the capacity to conduct dynamic conversations with customers in natural language. Natural language processing capability enables them to gauge context, understand multi-intent requests, accommodate conversational variations and provide relevant, helpful responses.

Importantly, they can finalise interactions rather than merely leading a customer a couple of steps down the path to resolution, a la the chatbot which responds to an enquiry about returning an item by pulling up the company’s return policy page.

A Conversational AI virtual assistant, by contrast, can be deployed to deliver a personalised, quick and complete interaction: verifying the customer’s identity, leveraging back-end systems to extract their purchasing history, confirming the item for return and generating a return label. 

Complementing your customer care team

Of course, not every enquiry can be resolved by AI powered technology. Your customer care team will always have a vital role to play, in resolving complex or unusual queries and engaging with individuals and organisations who expect and demand a little human touch.

A Conversational AI virtual assistant can do a far better job of detecting when it’s time to escalate an interaction to a human counterpart than the average legacy chatbot ever managed. It can also be programmed to execute the transition seamlessly; sidestepping the need for customers to re-enter or repeat information they’ve already provided.

And because Conversational AI learns from every transaction, your platform will have the capacity to resolve similar non-standard requests on its own, when next they arise.

Adding value to your brand and business

In today’s times, providing a superlative customer experience is a commercial imperative for Australian businesses – and providing it as efficiently as possible is a pressing economic one. Harnessing the power of Conversational AI technology can enable your contact centre to deliver high quality, personalised service at speed and scale. If exceeding your customers’ expectations is an objective for your organisation in FY2024, it’s an investment you can ill afford not to make.

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Brendan Maree

Brendan Maree

Brendan Maree is Senior Sales Director at Amelia, the enterprise leader in Trusted AI whose mission is to power the world with intelligent expert systems, eliminate routine work and free up brainpower for innovation and high impact activity. Brendan has more than 20 years of experience working with start-ups, privately owned and listed organisations. During this time, he has gained a strong understanding of cloud-based technologies and operational models as well as substantial experience leading organisations through cultural and operational changes.

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