How can chatbots become smarter and solve customer problems?


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  • Why I Don’t Love Chatbots

    Today, we tackle the value proposition that chatbots are more valuable to companies than customers. I reject this.  The ROI simply is not there, especially since better customer experience is not there. I have experienced both fully automated bots and “augmented” service agents interactions using the chat channel, and neither delivers on the promises of chat bots as the game-changing resource we all need.

    For our blog we use a photography subscription service. They push chat support heavily. When I used it, it was slow. The person either did not know English well enough or was multi-tasking several chats, but it felt like he was not present. On occasion, it felt like he was not answering the question I was asking, but rather providing a generic response. The base for effective communication is connection. When I felt unheard by the “support,” my frustration almost led me to drop the service (there are plenty of options for photography sources). Suddenly the chat offering threatens to cause the loss of a customer… and the organization PAID for it, for its integration, monthly support fees etc. I do not like that. It makes no sense.

    empathetic response ai photos

    AI presentation photo by Liliana Petrova, CCXP

    Let’s talk about the fully automated chatbots. Allegedly, this is where companies see the real efficiencies. Again, no real value for customers unless the automated chat function allows them to fully self-serve. The problem is, the fully automated chatbot today is stupid. It can perform only very distinct functions.

    The customer faced with a chat immediately tenses up with anxiety. He/she knows that the chances are pretty high he/she will have to channel switch pretty soon. How many bot interactions have you had that allowed you to solve your problem without switching to a human? Chatbots are supposed to deliver customer-centric experience. They are supposed to be customer directed, but the customer feels anxious that the minute the bot gets “stupid,” the customer loses control of the experience. Suddenly, the power is with the bot.

    What is the future for chatbots? Disturbing is a word that comes to mind. Soul Machines is the company to check for the preview. They have developed a digital human that has a BRAIN built on a virtual nervous system. Now that is equally exciting and terrifying. It reminds me of the AI empowered female voice that sounds like a human one (the digital human is also female…just saying). It will take some time before the digital human agent becomes the norm, but one thing is for sure, the next version of “stupid bot” will have empathy.

    According to Forrester, 60% of us prefer not to use a chat bot at all. I bet you if you ask why, you will also hear that the bots just stupid. So how can chat bots become smarter? We are back to the data conversation. Chatbots are as smart as the power and scope of the underlying data they can pull/learn from. In the case of the JetBlue customer experience team, without an integration to our reservation system, the chatbot cannot change or re-book a passenger’s ticket. Until then customers will keep reading “please speak to an agent.” That is hardly a way to feel the love.



    Get Customer Experience Basics Right and You Don’t Need to Invest in Wow Moments

    Wow Moments are a Customer Experience hot topic. Customer experience professionals ideate how to build, prioritize, finance, and measure these Wow Moments. Chip and Dan Heath wrote a whole book on the topic: The Power of Moments. No Wow Moment saves you from negative word of mouth if your brand fails to get the customer experience basics right or to deliver the expected brand experience consistently.

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    How a Personal Interaction builds Customer Loyalty

    A customer-centric methodology is key to the successful outcome of my interaction with Hello Spud. It is the reason this story appears here, and not among the CX Big Fails! The company did not send an automated response. It did not deliver a message stating “sorry we couldn’t help you, would you like something else.” Instead, the company co-founder reached out to me personally across multiple channels (a handwritten note, followed by personal emails).

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    5 THOUGHTS ON "Why I Don’t Love Chatbots"

    1. How to Prepare for AI: Dispatches from CR Summit, Charleston – DoingCXRight 03/13/2018 at 8:20 am

      […] On the eve of the #CRSummit in Charleston, customer experience leaders from various industries held the first AI Committee meeting. AI is a challenging topic to cover since it has varied customer experience applications depending on a brand’s growth cycle, customer base and business challenges. Companies like eBay place big bets on AI, while others use natural language processing (AI) only to build smart chatbots. […]

    2. CX and the Gift of Time – DoingCXRight 04/26/2018 at 11:36 am

      […] use a decision tree to guide you if you should call, others implement chat bots to give you back some time. Waiting on the phone to reach a call center professional so you can […]

    3. How Well Do You Understand AI Applications? – DoingCXRight 05/02/2018 at 12:07 pm

      […] possible to design an outfit that does not exist!  We are all learning, but one thing is certain, chat bots are not the only application in AI and if you are a competitive customer experience professional, […]

    4. When There is No Chat in Chat Support - THE PETROVA EXPERIENCE 11/14/2019 at 1:18 pm

      […] we are skeptical about the value of chatbots, we are big believers in the value of online chat support. Earlier this month we shared that 44% of […]

    5. Are You Ready to Go Exclusive with Jane, Your Digital Concierge? - THE PETROVA EXPERIENCE 02/13/2020 at 4:20 pm

      […] a digital solution, whether a chatbot or a digital concierge, context is everything. AI is only as smart and intuitive as the inputs it […]


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