In the future, the success of businesses, even small businesses, will increasingly pivot on the adoption of automated solutions such as chatbots. By automating routine tasks, businesses can do more for less and increase their ability to serve customers around the clock. While the benefits of automation are obvious, it is still important for businesses of all sizes to seriously assess when automating is truly adding value. After all, in many instances, a human touch still carries a tremendous amount of value.
The Pros and Cons of Chatbots
While chatbots may not be able to express empathy, they can do many things that human customer service representatives cannot. First, chatbots can respond to customer queries around the clock. Second, while your human customer service representatives can only field a few questions at a time, chatbots can handle thousands of questions simultaneously. This naturally offers significant cost savings over time. Finally, unlike human customer service representatives who tend to get bored answering the same questions day in and day out and often quit to pursue more challenging work, chatbots won’t feel under engaged at work. In fact, unlike humans, chatbots are engineered to engage in tedious work and become more rather than less efficient the more times they repeat a specific task.
The problem with chatbots, of course, is that while they are well positioned to deal with routine queries, they often fail to address more complex ones. Their limited ability to respond to nuance is also a limitation. This means that if you run a business where customer queries are often unique or of a sensitive nature, chatbots may not be your best bet. In other words, while a chatbot may be a good way to filter calls if your business sells spare parts for vacuums, it may not be a great option if your business is a school, hospice, or funeral home. Even in 2018, people sometimes want and need to speak to a human and do so immediately.
Banking On People Not Bots to Win Customers
If you have any doubts that human customer service still offers a strong return on investment, just consider the recent success of the TD Bank.
Back in the mid 1970s, TD Bank, at the time an exclusively Canadian bank, introduced its first “Green Machines.” Although two other Canadian banks had already introduced ATMs, it was the TD Bank’s ubiquitous “Green Machines” that led to the widespread introduction of automated tellers north of the border. Despite the bank’s early interest in automating services once carried out by human tellers, however, when the TD Bank expanded to the United States in the 2000s, its approach was notably different. While many other banks were closing local branches, TD Bank started to open branches, often multiple branches in the same neighborhood, with each branch operating seven days per week and offering extended hours. Why would a bank pour resources into personal service in an age of online commerce and automated banking?
What TD Bank evidently recognized is that sometimes people prefer a human touch. Whether it is being able to chat with a teller or easily do your banking with your dog or child in tow (TD offers doggie biscuits for pets and lollypops for the kids), people want to feel like their lives and specific needs matter. For TD, the strategy has worked. Since the bank arrived in the United States, it has rapidly expanded, largely by winning over customers from established U.S. banks. More recently, TD Bank has even attempted to bring their human touch to their automated machines with the launch of their Automated Thanking Machine, which not only have personal conservations with customers but offer personalized gifts.
What’s clear is that in a world where everything from shopping to education is increasingly automated, interactions with human beings are still valued and in many respects, may carry more value than ever before. Before deciding to replace your human customer service representatives with chatbots, consider the value of both options and which option holds the potential to add the most value to your specific business. To learn more about the impact one can have by treating their customers with a personal touch, explore eLeap’s online training resources.