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Chatbots only resolve 16% of customer interactions, on average.

This is the last of a three-part series examining how companies are transforming their customer experience strategies through the use of technology. The first article in the series is about the use of all types of AI in the contact center while the second article discusses the potential and current usage of generative AI.

When customer experience (CX) leaders or consumers talk about AI in customer service, chatbots are at the forefront of the discussion. But chatbots aren’t producing the success metrics they should be—at least not yet.

Chatbots and voicebots interact with customers on websites, in self-service channels, over SMS, or on phone calls. Chatbots are software automation programs that may or may not use AI, but nowadays, most companies opt for AI to interpret information, boost productivity, and even make recommendations that drive revenue. Chatbots can respond using decision trees or pre-programmed information (non-AI), or they can leverage machine learning to generate responses that adapt to the situation, content, or requests.

Semantics is an issue with this technology. As AI comes into the picture, some refer to the chatbots as “conversational AI,” where natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and other forms of AI help enable the chatbots to be more intelligent—helping customers solve a problem or complete a task. Virtual assistants are another term used in the context of chatbots. Alexa and Siri are familiar personal virtual assistants, helping with reminders and automating tasks. Virtual assistants in the contact center are sophisticated chatbots that use conversational AI, engage in human-like conversations, and assist both agents and customers.

Use of Chatbots

Companies use chatbots, or their more sophisticated versions, for several purposes. In some cases, they act independently and don’t assist live agents; in others, they do.

Internally, they can confirm agents have read the required statements and are being friendly. They also can provide context to help live agents resolve issues. They can close sales without agent involvement, or they can help the agents close sales through making next-best-action recommendations. They’re also starting to verify customer identity, saving agents time during a live interaction.

Externally, they are gathering feedback from customers after an interaction. They’re also helping customers in self-service channels by guiding them to the right spot on a website, providing product information, or completing warranty claims. They also can triage issues at hand and route to the best live agent.

Impact of Chatbots

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Robin Gareiss

Robin Gareiss is CEO and Principal Analyst at Metrigy, where she oversees research product development, conducts primary research, and advises leading enterprises, vendors, and carriers focusing on customer experience and engagement, digital transformation, and contact center.