Chatbots and customer service: Getting the right people to power the right tech

This years’ National Work Life Week gave us some food for thought around automation within service and what this looks like in the emerging tech industry.

AI chatbots are a huge part of modern customer service and also provide a great way to gate-keep your staff by eliminating easy FAQs, early. Around 40% of companies that have 1 – 10 employees use chatbots, showing how useful this tech is with SMEs who may be time-poor or needing to recruit. Even if these aren’t issues for your organisation, let’s face it, chatbots are really convenient; who doesn’t like being able to get an immediate answer to a simple problem?

Most AI chatbots contain a programme that simulates human conversations using natural language processing (NLP), allowing the user to properly navigate a website or app, tackle more advanced problems around invoicing and POs, all the way up to ordering a pizza (we all know whose smiley digital face we long for every Tuesday). There are rule-based alternatives to AI too, which aren’t as savvy and though don’t learn on the job, are able to provide an almost ‘flow-chart‘ of options to the user, still successfully navigating their enquiry through to the end.

More advanced chatbots continue to learn language based on the input they receive from the user and are able to build their knowledge outside of their original set of pre-programmed commands. This AI can also initiate changes to their vocabulary based on user patterns and become smarter with each interaction… This will either excite or terrify you, depending on whether you’ve seen The Matrix.

Despite this being super impressive, this will always be about balancing the right bots with the right people. These automations don’t function correctly without smart human operators behind them, and companies need to effectively invest in these programmers. This not only promotes the efficiency of their bots, but also maintains the effectiveness of front-line staff by enabling them to speak to customers only when strictly necessary.

There are of course areas where these bots can fall down too; if the chatbot displays information based on a set of rules set by the human operator, responses can be routed based on keyword matching. However, if certain keywords aren’t mentioned or predetermined questions not stored in the AI, the bot quite simply won’t be able to help you. There is also an argument that using bots as your first line of defence means that you’ll lose that ‘personal touch’ with your clients. However, surely those customers wanting more of a personal conversation (or those scared of tech, because we know they still exist), wouldn’t use a chatbot for assistance anyway – they’d pick up the phone.

AI is by no means a magical solution for the plethora of customer service queries your business is ever going to face, but the technology does add value and has real-world uses in a variety of enterprises. AI and its operators enable you to present simple solutions to your clients immediately, heightening your levels of satisfied customers. Allowing other staff to turn their attention to more client critical issues and work more effectively, providing further business efficiencies and value.

If Edge Tech can help you by getting the right people to power the right tech, get in touch.
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