Customer Service Insights

Chatbots or Humans? The Best Options for Customer Service

3 Min Read
Stephanie   |   April 14, 2020

We live in a world where digital technology is second nature. Options include remote car starters from your phone, doorbell cameras to alert you of your neighbourhood moves, and even virtual doctor visits. These options are easy, quick, and come with the click of a button. But when there is a question or concern, what do we do as consumers? The same digital access that grants us 2-day shipping and zero human interaction may lack the answers a customer needs when a problem arises. So the question at hand is, when it comes to customer service, is human interaction really best? 


When comparing chatbots to a human customer service agent, the levels of attentiveness will differ.  Often times, customer questions can easily be answered in the FAQs section of a website. More often than not however, those answers aren’t exactly easy to find.  Chatbots can ask a series of questions through programming, that allow them to direct the customer into the right direction with accompanying links. But what happens when the bots can’t answer your questions? Knowing when to use both types of customer management services is imperative to keeping your customers happy and satisfied.


When to Use a Chatbot

As brands continue to use chatbots, the trend to use them should be applied for the following situations:


  • Used as a Sales Channel

Unknown to many, chatbots can actually be the perfect sales channel.  They offer the ability to always be online, regardless of the time, and sell your products for you even when you and your agents aren’t available. With the popularity of e-commerce mega-leaders like Amazon, visiting a brick-and-mortar store is the least desired option for many consumers.  The ability to search, inquire and purchase via the internet, is the driving force behind many purchases we see today.  

  • When Your Agents are Offline or Overloaded

Chatbots can help you answer support questions when your agents are offline or overloaded.  You have the ability to set hours for the chatbots, which can allow you to engage them or turn them off depending on the load of customer service agents. With a chatbot, you can be rest assured that every customer who is contacting you will receive an immediate response whether your team is in or out of the office.


When to Use a Human Customer Service Agent

Chatbots are advanced, sophisticated tools that allow many businesses to flow.  But the ability to interact with a human service agent is still desired by many, not just the older generations.  That’s why you can (and should) rely on agents for the following instances:


  • For Complex, Technical Issues

Most chatbots operate based on a limited database and aren’t able to improvise in unclear situations. When someone is trying to solve a complex technical issue, your bot might simply keep responding with the same answer without actually providing any meaningful help or encourage the user to contact a customer service agent. This will certainly frustrate customers. And in most cases, whether bots are programmed to recognise human emotions or not, they are less equipped to handle them.


Customers who want to make transactions online, or who need a detailed answer to a complicated issue, will want the detailed and undivided attention that comes with a human, customer service agent interaction. That’s why it is important to offer this service to deal with customers who are upset or have complex questions or concerns.


  • Dealing with Angry Customers

Whether you like it or not, some customers will get upset, no matter the industry you’re in or how wonderful your services and products are. A negative customer experience can do an alarming amount of damage to your company’s reputation. Offering great customer service with human interaction can often turn an angry customer into a happy customer. The ability to connect to human emotion and answer questions according to those emotions encompass the imperative role of a customer service agent.


  • Right Now!

In extreme circumstances, such as a global pandemic - customers will be feeling especially sensitive and must be treated with sensitivity by the businesses they interact with throughout this time. According to a report released in April 2020 by Customer Experience platform Zendesk, customers making requests in certain sectors are waiting 40% longer on average for a reply, and those contacting airlines are waiting 20% longer in April, based on data from the first week of March. Customers now, more than ever are seeking timely and empathetic responses to tough questions about their travel plans and flight bookings so if you’re in one of the sectors affected by a surge in enquiries - scaling up with human agents who have been vetted for soft skills like Empathy and Communication is imperative. 


So which one is actually better? The short answer is that both are necessary for a strong approach to customer service. Your chatbot and human service team should work together to create a seamless customer service experience. Offering the best customer service possible should be the number one priority when debating the pros and cons of each.

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