The short answer: yes and no. Chatbots are often touted by chatbot developers and tech bloggers as a replacement for customer service agents. They’re not. There’s still a lot they can’t do, at least for now. On the other hand, there are also many who claim chatbots are just a hot trend that will eventually go away and not worth investing in. The truth is somewhere in between these two extremes. Chatbots can benefit your business and are certainly worth looking into but you need to have an understanding of what they can and can’t do because they can only benefit your brand if you’re using them in the right ways.

Think complementary and not replacement

Chatbots can’t replace your customer service team or your secretaries because they can’t do everything that humans can do. On the other hand, there are some tasks that chatbots are better equipped to handle. Chatbots are ideal for automating the more simple and mundane tasks that customer support staff and secretaries are usually asked to handle. Find ways to help chatbots reduce the workload of your employees rather than trying to reduce payroll by eliminating positions.

Things your chatbot can do

The best chatbots are ones that are programmed to handle a predetermined set of very specific tasks. This allows you to better focus on programming a chatbot that can effectively handle those tasks. First time chatbot developers that try to do too much with their chatbots end up with a chatbot that is easily confused and very unhelpful. Leave the advanced AI bot development to tech giants and let your chatbot stick to handling simple tasks. Examples include:

  • answering simple questions. Reach out to your customer support team to find out which questions they’re always being asked then use some simple natural language processing to program a chatbot to recognize when these questions are being asked and program them to respond with the appropriate answers to these questions.
  • Routing customers to the right people. If your customer support team consists of different specialties a chatbot can reduce the number of transfers that customers have to go to to get to the person who can best help them. By asking questions to understand the nature of a customer’s problem, chatbots can more accurately connect customers to the right people in your company.
  • Admit failure. This last one is important, a good chatbot should be able to recognize when it’s usefulness has come to an end. There will be customer interactions with your bot that aren’t successfully resolved. Your chatbot needs to be able to recognize that point in the conversation and have a way out otherwise it will get stuck in an endless loop of unhelpfulness that will only frustrate the customer.