Chatbots suck, it’s time for digital experts

Many of our readers will have seen our disdain for poorly implemented chatbots in recent months. We’ve lamented about Aramex and Eskom’s implementation of automated customer service solutions and all but begged for better.

As it turns out, there is something better, but it’s going to take some commitment to develop and that means time and expenses. That solution is something chief executive officer at CLEVVA Solutions, Ryan Falkenberg, calls digital experts.

“Businesses will move from using info-bots to digital experts capable of resolving complex service queries without the need for human intervention. So for example if you need advice on what to do with some extra funds, you will no longer have to endure a chatbot offering links to product brochures on available investment funds. Instead you will be connected to a digital expert capable of not only offering you compliant advice but also actioning resulting decisions,” writes Falkenberg.

Unlike most chatbots, digital experts are able to leverage the data made available more effectively. For example, while chatbot will ask you several questions before you can get to your query, a digital expert would be able to skip this and address the query a customer needs addressed.

This sounds like a small factor but in reality, customers are begging for quick interactions while at the same time preferring tailored assistance.

“Companies can’t afford to keep offering generic digital experiences. They have to shape each experience to the customer,” explains Falkenberg.

“If a business wants to have a digital relationship with me, I need to feel they know me, and will adjust their engagement to suit my specific needs and context,” he adds.

Where we foresee things becoming complicated is what Falkenberg says about the solution being a one stop shop.

“They must also be able to shape the service journey to my needs, and ensure that once a solution is agreed, they are able to process it immediately without relying on a human agent to ‘get in the loop’,” the CEO says.

We foresee this becoming complicated for a number of reasons. The first and perhaps most important is that folks do prefer talking to a human. While this might be due to the fact that chatbots are awful at this stage, in the early days of a digital expert’s implementation are likely to be marred by that opinion. There’s also the matter of what happens to the humans who did that job once digital experts become proficient enough.

It’s all good and well to propose those workers be reassigned or trained, but the reality is that not everybody wants to or has the skills to become a developer.

Make no mistake, we are looking forward to a day where our problems can be resolved through a simple chat interface but we also have to be aware of how these developments impact the jobs of the people they replace.

To that end, Falkenberg foresees a shift in how human agents ply their trade.

“Agents will need to rely more on their authenticity and cultural agility than their product and procedural knowledge. This is because customers will only reach out to human-staffed channels when they want to feel heard and treasured. For the rest, they will use self-service channels,” the CEO says.

Of course, this means contact centres will need to shift their metrics and likely their renumeration policies as well although that’s a terse conversation for another day.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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