AI Chatbots for Customer Support: The Pros and Cons

March 29, 2021 - 8 minutes read

artificial intelligence app developmentCustomer support is becoming smarter without requiring more human support specialists. With artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots are reshaping how we interact with companies, how we get help, and who is on the other end of the conversation. Chatbots aren’t new; they’ve been found in research and literature from the 1960s, but they’ve experienced a major boost in popularity and accuracy thanks to the help of advanced cloud computing and machine learning development in recent years.

Chatbots are a natural fit for enhancing customer service, especially in an online or mobile setting, and we run into them on websites, in hospitals, on social media, and in mobile apps. There is room for this AI-enabled application in almost every business vertical, but there are pros and cons to be aware of when developing your first chatbot.

Chatbots in Customer Support

Customer support can be grueling. It requires businesses to provide friendly, responsive, and quick help at almost any time of the day. Because of the large investment involved in hiring people and building resources, it is difficult to build an excellent customer support team overnight.

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It takes a lot of constant training and ongoing optimization to finetune your support representatives to meet all key performance indicators, like time-to-first-response, time-to-close-ticket, and customer satisfaction or feedback. Instead of skimping on one of your most important customer-facing departments, consider what a chatbot can unlock for you and your customers. Whether your company is a Fortune 500 company, doctor’s office, or a corner grocery store, your business can create and deploy a chatbot quickly and easily without a massive investment.

Benefits of Chatbots in Business

Increase Customer Happiness

Every company is in the business of making their customers happy. It’s what keeps profits steady and brand recognition strong. Thankfully, chatbots fit right into that notion as they are 100% customer-centric.

Chatbots work to answer user questions as fast as possible to reach a resolution on the question at hand. They help customers with the same efficiency and response rate, unlike humans which respond to various queries with different response times. This reliability can give customers more consistent expectations of interacting with your company.

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If done right, chatbots can improve customer satisfaction. For example, an customer service representative based in Los Angeles may not be able to speak Japanese to help a customer, but a chatbot can easily switch to a different language on the fly. This unlocks the added benefit of reaching many more customers without having to hire interpreters or native speakers.

Leave an Impression on Customers

Besides serving up a consistent experience that customers can count on, chatbots offer customers the opportunity to “ooh” and “aah” over your company’s use of the most cutting-edge AI and machine learning technology. Many customers enjoy interacting with a chatbot, and engagement rates have been increasing steadily.

In 2019, nearly 40% of retail customers engaged with a chatbot in their search for an answer. When chatbots work well, they can bolster your brand image. They can also help customers see your company as an industry leader.

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Available Around-the-Clock

Unlike people, chatbots can be “on” 24/7 without feeling exhausted or needing a break. They can help a customer whenever they need it and from wherever they’re located. Chatbots can stay on indefinitely and use customer feedback to continuously improve their success rates.

Generate Better Leads

Besides helping people with their questions and issues, chatbots can also generate leads. Add in a spam filter, and you can even generate better leads than your contact forms. In on-demand delivery apps, chatbots are often used to take orders and process payments from new customers. This can reduce the amount of time it takes to get a new lead to purchase a product from your company.

More Cost-Effective

Because chatbots don’t require healthcare or sick days, chatbots are much cheaper in the long run compared to a traditional customer support team. They use fewer resources like office space, money, and equipment. Chatbots cost a one-time investment fee, and they need minimal maintenance to continue performing.

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Downsides of Chatbots

Talking to a Computer

At the end of the day, most chatbots can’t help customers shake the feeling that they’re talking to an automated AI application. For many customers, their problems can only be solved by a human, and this often includes problems with a purchase, shipping, or credit card charge. For these customers, interacting with a chatbot can feel futile and frustrating.

Although natural language processing technology has come a long way in the past few years, we still haven’t reached a point where chatbots feel human. Fluid language isn’t possible yet. Even the best chatbots can’t make customers feel like they’re talking to a human.

Difficult to Develop

Chatbots can be difficult to design and develop, especially if your company’s use case is complex. When adding machine learning technology into the mix, chatbot development can get downright arduous. As it stands, companies need to spend a lot of time, effort, and server space in creating their chatbot.

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Most businesses need chatbots for simpler needs, however, like customer support which can run on pattern-based algorithms. There are already no-code or low-code platforms that offer brands the ability to create a custom chatbot. As technology keeps advancing, it’ll get easier and easier to create and deploy chatbots.

Ongoing Maintenance Schedules

Chatbots require updating and maintenance. Someone should look into the chatbot’s failed customer support tickets to make adjustments where necessary to avoid failing to resolve a ticket about the same topic again. As user questions and issues grow, take some time to add these new topics and their associated solutions into the chatbot’s knowledge bank. The time and effort will be worth it: this work can keep your brand image strong.

Developing Your Chatbot

Creating and deploying a chatbot is getting easier, and more companies are taking advantage of this technology by combining it with AI and machine learning. Don’t get left behind — a well-maintained chatbot with a high success rate in answering questions can strengthen your brand image and leave a great impression on your customers.

Have you interacted with an excellent chatbot? What company’s chatbot was it, and what did you take away from the experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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