It seems like there’s a chatbot for every task out there today. Scheduling bots for scheduling meetings. Ecommerce bots for buying stuff online. Banking bots for advice with money and trade show bots for help navigating busy exhibition floors.
Indeed, some folks argue that chatbots are the entire future of customer service. They never sleep. They’re immediate and easy to use.
With the integration of AI and machine learning, they can present the right information at the right time in the right context.
It’s like talking to a live agent but better since the company can control exactly what’s said in the tone they want to set. Add it all up and traditional customer service reps may soon find themselves chatbotted straight out of a job.
I’m not buying it.
It’s not that I don’t see the utility of chatbots. To the contrary, there’s a lot of things that they do incredibly well.
But in an era so saturated with technology, let’s not forget that people are increasingly hungry for interaction with live people in times of urgent need, not with automated bots.
That’s why brands are trying so hard to personalize themselves these days. And it’s why there’s a heightened need for human beings — with a real voice, a real face and real empathy — to win over a prospect, close a sale or resolve a problem whatever the issue may be.
That’s why a blended approach makes so much more sense as we move forward, with chatbots and real reps working side-by-side — in sync and in the same app.
Imagine if every chatbot could escalate a chat to a voice or video call whenever it sensed the need. This wouldn’t be a message that a customer service agent will be calling you within the next two hours. That’s just annoying.
Nor would it be a request to download another app so that a rep can personally connect with you online. That’s never going to happen.
What I’m talking about is an instantaneous escalation through the bot to a real person standing by.
If you’re having trouble fixing something on your computer and the chatbot has failed to direct you to a solution in the FAQ, it could connect you to a live tech agent who could analyze the situation on the spot and even screenshare to fix it for you.
Or say you’re interested in buying a washer/dryer but reluctant to make a final decision online. The company could use chatbots to entertain the thousands of people who are just surfing, but when it senses that you are getting serious, it could connect you with a live sales agent who could give you more information and provide new sales arguments to help close the deal.
To date, we haven’t seen much of this. I like the example of Izvor Insurance, which created pictures and GIFs with their real insurance agents and integrated them into their chatbots to create a personalized customer experience. It’s fun and refreshing.
And if the chatbot senses a need to escalate the interaction, it can offer to email or call the prospect.
But Izvor — and every other company out there — should take this to the next level by creating an option for live voice and video calling right in the application. With WebRTC now natively supported by Safari, this is actually an easy add-on.
Interested in how you can make this happen?
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