Guest Column | February 5, 2020

Embracing AI-Powered BOTs: Identifying The Misconceptions And Pitfalls Of BOTs And Avoiding Them To Create An Ideal Customer Experience

By Priya Iyer, Vee24

Artificial Intelligence Versus Human Knowledge In The Supply Chain

AI-powered BOTs are transforming the online experience. BOTs are behind improved user experience in every industry from finance, to healthcare, to every area of retail imaginable. BOTs can do everything from quickly helping customers find basic information, to qualifying a customer and handing them off to a live agent to address complex needs and close a sale.

Online companies use a wide variety of BOTs to enhance the customer experience. Customer AssistBOTs can handle FAQs, help after-hours visitors, set up an appointment with an agent online or in-person, or help with minor tasks such as a PIN change. Agent AssistBOTs equip busy agents with vital customer knowledge so customers will have a seamless experience. Proactive NudgeBOTs ‘greet,’ ‘meet,’ or ‘complete’ a process. NudgeBOTs can generate qualified leads, help customers make needs-based decisions, give customers risk-reduction on high-value purchases, and prevent late-stage abandonment. In addition to Customer AssistBOTs, Agent AssistBOTs and NudgeBOTs, in the near future, customers will have personal BOTs that will follow them online and interface with other BOTs to create an even smoother, more personalized experience.

In spite of all the promise and potential value AI-powered BOT technology can bring to the online customer experience, businesses must still consider potential pitfalls and misconceptions that could mar the customer experience or derail efforts to deliver high-end service and build customer loyalty.

Pitfall: Complex Websites Can Be More Difficult To Navigate For The Casual Visitor

More and more features are being added to digital channels to meet customer demand, lower the cost of servicing consumers, and provide responsive service to visitors and potential customers. Customers do want to be able to access a full range of services online, but at their convenience and on their own terms. The added complexity to the overall customer journey is taking a toll on user experience across verticals. Car dealerships, health insurance providers, retailers, financial institutions all need to be able to better support the range of customer needs outside standard business hours while helping them navigate a complex online offering.

AI ChatBOTs are one way to address the needs of both the customer and the business, in terms of delivering efficient and timely customer service. Customer AssistBOTs, as discussed above, can help answer a question quickly (like hours of operation or the physical address of a branch) or lead customers quickly to information and thus train them on self-service for the next time. These AssistBOTs can help prevent customer frustration by taking the user immediately to the information they are seeking, without having to spend a lot of time wading through a complex site.

Misconception: Bots Are Meant To Replace Personal Service And Live Agents

When considering and building ChatBOTs, there are often misconceptions about the role of AI, ChatBOTs and machine learning. One is that ChatBOTs will cause widespread job loss for contact center agents. Nothing could be further from the truth. The gold standard for premium online customer experience will include a seamless mix of BOTs and live agents to support customer needs. AI is never going to be able to take on the role of forging the kind of personal connection needed to build brand loyalty. But it can qualify the right customer and make the agent more successful in their tasks. Successful agents fuel business growth and expansion of jobs. Gartner says by 2020, Artificial Intelligence will create more jobs than it eliminates.

The customer journey is a dynamic and complicated thing, it drastically differs for each customer and company, not to mention in different industries. The complexity and importance of the customer journey make it impossible for a BOT to stand alone and deliver an ideal user experience. A BOT that can reach out or respond at the right place and time can be effective, but without the option to seamlessly transition to a live agent when needed, the offering can be very frustrating for the customer.

Misconception:  The Best BOTs Are Those That Handle Complex Customer Questions

A popular misconception is that the key to ChatBOT success is to build a BOT that understands the intent of a complex, perhaps multi-part, communication from a customer. That approach can result in a disappointing or even frustrating user experience and less than optimal business results. The here and now of business success with BOTs is simplicity. The goal of a ChatBOT should be efficiency. BOTs should be built to handle volume, not complexity. The simpler the question, the better suited it is for automation with a BOT. The focus should be on making it simple for the customer. Businesses need to identify the most common customer questions and build the BOT to answer those. For complex or infrequent questions, BOTs should be trained to quickly transfer to a human agent without wasting the customer’s time. Focusing on simplicity will result in high customer ratings and real business ROI.

Creating The Ideal User Experience With Effective ChatBOTs

Businesses can build the ideal user experience for visitors to their website by avoiding the misconceptions and pitfalls discussed in this article and embracing AI-powered ChatBOTs. Organizations need to understand the needs of their customers and deploy effective ChatBOTs. An effective BOT will power the customer journey with data and analytics that allow it to understand the customer. BOTs need to be integrated with a company’s knowledge base and transactional systems so customers will get a seamless, personalized experience. BOTs and live agents need the capability to co-browse so customers can get a guided tour of information or products they are interested in. And, perhaps most importantly, BOTs need to be able to make a seamless transfer of a qualified customer to a live agent who can handle complex issues or close a sale when appropriate.

These essential BOT characteristics come into play because a well-designed and trained ChatBOTs would use data analytics, an understanding of the customer’s journey and access to knowledge repositories to differentiate between a customer who needs a quick answer, wants to be left alone, or is a high-value prospect. Being able to make this kind of complex assessment will enable BOTs to meet very different needs of different visitors and deliver an experience that is very satisfying, no matter the visitor’s mission/objective.

AI-Powered BOTs Can Fuel The Ideal Customer Experience

BOT technology is already widespread across the internet, and BOTs of all varieties are already having an impact on the customer experience. Savvy companies can avoid the pitfalls and misconceptions of AI, machine learning and BOTs and embrace the promise of BOT technology as it evolves to better serve their customers, build brand loyalty, and increase sales.

About The Author

With over 25 years of diverse international experience in nearly every facet of software, Priya is a proven, high-growth entrepreneurial CEO with a leadership philosophy centered on engaging clients and employees to build industry-leading SaaS software platforms and delivering exceptional stakeholder value to achieve sustainable competitive differentiation.