Chatbots
August 28, 2020

Why support agents should stop fearing chatbots

Pim de Vos
Pim de Vos

Let’s start this article off by sending an elephant out of the room: chatbots are not coming for your job.

I promise.

There’s no escaping chatbots

In the famous words of Phil Collins: you can run, but you can’t hide. According to Business Insider, the chatbot market will grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024. Especially with the rise of messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, bots are needed more than ever.

While some welcome them, many support agents fear that chatbots will make the work they do obsolete. This is mainly caused because by the idea that chatbots actually have the ability to do all of the work support agents do. They don’t.

Bots are nothing more than humble servants that enable support agents to do their most valuable work: making customers happy. Whenever there is turbulence, they act as co-pilots that take on manual and repetitive tasks that soak up time.

In short, they don’t take over your work, but they help you to do it better.

The high expecations of the modern customer experience

The modern consumer has high expectations of what the average customer experience should look like. Especially when it comes to customer support. This leaves you and your team with a heavy burden to carry. You need to:

  • Find high-quality solutions to issues
  • Reply faster than the speed of light
  • Provide close to round-the-clock availability
  • Create a connection that feels natural and human
  • Offer self-service resources

I understand that there are top performers out there who like challenges. However, without any automation in place, you will most likely either:

  1. Burn yourself out
  2. Deliver an underwhelming experience

For many support agents, this results in having to choose between the customer experience or efficiency.

Chatbots make it possible to combine the two.

Save time for solving complex problems

Most of the questions that support agents deal with on a daily basis look something like this:

“What are your business hours?”

“What are your delivery methods?”

“When will my order be delivered?”

“Can you forward me to somebody from department X?”

Important questions to answer, sure. But they are also repetitive and can take up a huge chunk of time per day. It’s not what you have been trained for, and probably also not the work that makes you happy.

By creating a chatbot, you can make sure all these questions get answered automatically. And there’s more you can automate. From organizing conversations in your inbox by automatically adding labels or assigning messages to the right employees.

At the end of the day, a support employee adds value by helping customers in their journey and solve complex issues. Not by serving as a living and breathing FAQ page or doing administrative work.

Reply instantly – no matter the time

One of the biggest challenges for any support agent is providing fast support. Especially online, the average consumer has gotten used to finding information instantly. Whenever their process gets slowed down, this can lead to frustration in no time.

Whether you’re being contacted via Facebook Messenger, live chat, or WhatsApp, a chatbot will make sure the message gets replied to fast. Even if a customer wants to talk to a real human being, the chatbot tells them when they can expect a reply and where to find information in the meantime.

This gives you more time to handle other inquiries first, while your bot makes sure all your website visitors get a warm welcome.

Humans prefer talking to humans over bots

The average chatbot is far from being able to resemble the experience of a real human conversation. If you ask me, that’s also not why you should use them. It should be clear from the get-go that your customer is talking to a chatbot. Trying to uphold the illusion of a real human conversation will lead to frustration sooner than later.

In the end, humans prefer talking to other humans in most situations. When it comes to finding answers to easy questions (“when will my order be delivered?”) they probably enjoy getting fast answers from a bot. But once answers get a little more complex and personal, all they want is for the bot to forward them to you.

One of the biggest issues with online communication is how impersonal it can be. Especially in business. It’s still impossible to actually mimic the experience of an actual store. Leaving all the communication to a chatbot makes this even less personal.

You have found the perfect balance when your chatbot acts as a host. When it makes the customer feel welcome when they arrive and knows exactly if and when it is time to forward them to a human colleague.

Offer self-service resources

So, we have established that most people prefer to speak to an actual human being when contacting a business. However, there is also a growing group of (especially young) people that like to figure things out for themselves. As a support team, you can enable this by offering self-service via your chatbot.

By creating your own help center with informative articles on important topics concerning your business, you create the source of information that your customers need for self-service. You can add the help center articles to your chatbot so that customers can always choose between self-service and human support.

By offering self-service, you and your team have more time to spend on improving the overall experience for people that prefer human contact, while making people that want to figure things out for themselves happy. A win-win.

I love win-wins.

Create your own chatbot without code

People without any coding skills – just like me – may fear that creating and configuring a chatbot is too difficult. Granted, if you want to build your own chatbot from scratch, you may end up looking like this:

However, with solutions such as Trengo, you can create your own bot without using any code at all.

Curious? My colleague Liselot wrote all about how you can create your own no-code chatbot in five easy steps. You can also create an account and try it out for yourself.

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