Navigating the future of human-chatbot collaboration

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Chatbots are taking increasingly prominent roles in the world of customer experience (CX), supporting contact center agents in their abilities to respond to rising customer demands. As we move forwards and embrace these new tools and technologies, we’re quickly discovering that the collaboration of human and AI is the best approach for an elevated customer experience.

But at the same time, customer satisfaction is experiencing a downturn. Recently, the Institute of Customer Service revealed that customer satisfaction has fallen to its lowest level since January 2015. In some cases, the reason for this is being pinned on dysfunctional chatbots and the introduction of new technologies.

While it’s disappointing to hear about this dip in customer satisfaction, it’s not fair to blame this on the introduction of chatbots. Instead of using chatbots as a scapegoat, we need to understand that the technological evolution happening in the CX space today is a continual process. We’re on a journey to integrate these new tools and solutions smoothly into the contact center - progress will happen over time, not overnight.

Chris Angus

Vice President, Contact Centre Engagement, 8x8

Success lies in understanding the technology

Contact centers are on a journey to embrace new technologies and it’s not all that surprising to see that customer satisfaction levels have dipped as a result. However, we need to clarify that this step backwards isn’t only due to the introduction of new tools and technologies within the contact center. It’s ultimately caused by a substandard use of contact center technology.

To succeed in this digital journey, contact centers shouldn’t be racing ahead to bring in the latest AI advancements in every area of the organization. As with any new technology adoption, the introduction of AI and chatbots will only be successful if this is done at the right pace and level.

Don’t try to build a skyscraper straight out, but instead get the foundations right to give it a suitable structure. This is particularly important when working with complex technologies, as they can have negative outcomes if it’s not implemented correctly. In terms of AI-driven chatbots, contact centers should start by feeding these into the most relevant customer service use cases. From there, the AI will be able to learn and develop based on ongoing interactions, thus taking customer satisfaction to the next level.

Using chatbots to stay ahead of customer satisfaction

IT leaders across the board recognize the potential of AI-tools and chatbots, with 41% recently saying companies will fall behind if they don’t adopt conversational AI capabilities.

The power of chatbots in contact centers lies in their ability to serve more customers, without increasing contact center headcount. Chatbots can take on repetitive, day-to-day tasks, such as transactional or process driven questions, leaving human agents with more time to focus on ‘value add’ requests. In turn, human agents will become the specialists, on hand to answer complex customer questions, while chatbots can provide speedy, straightforward answers where required.

AI’s role here lies in the ability to process huge amounts of data and decipher which calls require human interaction, versus those that a chatbot can handle. It is not about replacing humans with AI and chatbots, but instead about arming contact centers with the tools they need to seamlessly interact with customers and provide answers quickly and efficiently.

Making the right chatbot choices

When looking to deploy a chatbot, it’s important to think about the desired outcome. It’s not enough to just tick a box - contact centers need to understand what the role of the chatbot in the contact center will be. What tasks will it be fulfilling? What data will it access and how will it be integrated? How many enquiries will it be handling? Asking the right questions before diving in will help to ensure successful chatbot implementation.

The next step is training the chatbot. Today, this will likely involve conversational AI and a Large Language Model (LLM). Leveraging these technologies, contact centers can begin to train the chatbot on expected questions and customer engagement. Starting simple here will be key. Rather than jumping ahead, begin by training the chatbot on a handful of common questions and build it up from there.

Strengthening the human-chatbot relationship

We need to remember that chatbots aren’t here to replace human agents. They’re here to improve the employee experience, support human interactions and drive enhanced customer experiences. Training a chatbot to quickly handle routine questions is a win-win situation - contact center agents have more time to handle in-depth queries, while customers get quicker responses.

It’s all about balance. While customers will appreciate the speed of chatbots for general questions, they still want the option to speak to a human agent when the request is more personal or complex. Chatbots shouldn’t be seen as a cost cutting measure used to take over all interactions - instead they can complement existing processes to ensure employees can deliver excellence, while customers receive the service they require.

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Chris Angus, Vice President, Contact Centre Engagement, 8x8