Not all customer support trends are clearly defined. It was only a decade ago that the notion of a "customer experience" was just a way to summarize interacting with customers and was dismissed by some industry professionals. Now the phrase encapsulates what leading support companies strive to refine and master. With this said, the term "chat bots" is emerging as a potential game changer in the customer support industry. Imagine virtual agents that can solve all the problems your customers have and actually hold a conversation with them - pretty incredible! But we're not there yet, and honestly it could be decades until a sophisticated version of this technology reaches mainstream customer support.
So what does this mean for chat bots in the current era of customer support? Is the concept of a chat bot for customer support overrated as a communication method or is there value in the solution? Here are a few things to think about...
Chat bots don't integrate well with customer support - Simply put, the current iterations of chat bots often sit completely independent of customer support software. This means the data isn't shared between the chat and support software, and if it is, agents have to sift through canned chat responses to find customer questions. While the technology is innovative and can be helpful, it may increase your overhead costs and agent stress as they have to toggle multiple systems for information in order to meet the needs of the customer. Enabling your support team with a sophisticated ticket deflection solution where tickets are sent to the right agents to be dealt with swiftly instead of a bot is usually a better alternative.
Most customer support solutions already have a chat option - This transition between live chat with a real person and a chat bot can still be confusing to customers, especially in the B2B (business-to-business) industry which can lag behind in adopting new technology. Some customers may look to speak to a real person and be frustrated when they find out that they have started a session with a chat bot. These multiple chat options could be unified to give customers a choice for a live person or a bot directly within the chat window, but currently this is not a common solution.
Chat bots simply aren't accurate enough - Even the most sophisticated machine learning boasts only an 85% accuracy rate for chat bot responses and it's safe to say that many enterprise chat bot solutions are well below that percentage. Imagine if a live agent gave an incorrect response in 15% of their interactions with B2B customers - they probably wouldn't last very long and you would risk losing a large portion of revenue from unhappy customers. While this percentage may be tolerable in the B2C world where losing a customer or two won't be a major issue, the same cannot be said in B2B. One customer could be the difference between a company staying afloat or going under, and there's a reason why many large consumer-focused companies in the telecom and utilities industries still assign specific reps for B2B accounts. Companies add the human element of personalization to these accounts because they are extremely valuable and being wrong even a fraction of the time with automated responses for these customers is unacceptable.
In conclusion, the current state of chat bots in the customer support industry can generally be a hindrance or a redundancy. Some of the data collected by chat bots currently can be collected and organized better by the right customer support software solution. This isn't to say that chat bot technology is useless - far from it - but as it stands today the more robust chat bot technology isn't ready for mass usage. So yes, the chat bots that exist today are overrated and B2B companies in particular should exercise caution before investing in the technology. Most of the functionality that exists today within chat bots in the B2B world can be achieved at a more personalized level with the right customer support software.