What You Need to Know About the Good and Bad Sides of Chatbots

Last updated Jul 10, 2018

Reading time: 4 minutes

By now, you’ve probably encountered a few chatbots during your time on the internet in some type of customer service situation. With the use of online chatbots growing, there is serious discussion about the types of roles that they can fill, and the situations where the use of a chatbot is appropriate.

Virtual chatbots can be useful depending on the scenario, but they do have their limitations. Spend enough time trying to get answers from a chatbot, or find that you need service that extends beyond a set of preprogrammed commands, and you might find the experience frustrating as a customer.

With chatbots becoming more accessible in native app design and beyond, more businesses are looking to deploy them in the future. As such, it is important to consider the benefits and disadvantages of using this type of technology. In this post, we are going to take a look at some of the pros and cons to using chatbots for CRM purposes.

The Advantages of Chatbots

Streamline Business Operations

Many of the most common text messaging services already support the use of chatbots. All a company has to do is install the chatbot, and it could be used to streamline a number of different business processes.

Once a conversation bot service is installed and ready to run, the company could cut back on customer service staff, and this could conserve company revenue. In addition to that, virtual chatbots can provide customers with a quick and easy solution for a variety of common concerns.

People Want Chatbots

Some people will always prefer to interact with a human employee, but research is starting to show that a growing number of consumers prefer a chatbot to a human customer service representative.

A study from Aspect Software Research surveyed more than 1,000 US consumers aged 18-65. Of those surveyed, 44% percent said that they would prefer a chatbot to a human if the company could get the experience right. A further 70% said that they already prefer chatbots for simple to moderate interactions.

Convenient Assistance at any Time

One of the top advantages to a chatbot is that they can provide customers with convenient assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers don’t have to wait for operating hours, they don’t have to wait for a representative to be available, and they can get help late at night and on holidays.

Without chatbots, the company would have to choose between leaving customers underserved or paying more to staff to work on off-hours or on holidays.

Improved Online Shopping

This is one benefit that is good for both the customers and the company. A chatbot could provide a convenient guide for online shoppers that are looking for products on the company’s website. Instead of scrolling through and opening pages of product listings, the customer could get more precise help from the bot.

The chatbot would ask the customer a series of questions that would help to determine the best product based on their requirements and then it would direct them to a URL link that contains the specific product or a list of products that meet the consumer’s needs. This makes for a better shopping experience for customers, and that should result in more sales for the company.

The Disadvantages of Chatbots

They Take Human Jobs

Before chatbots, humans were employed as customer service specialists and in the other roles these bots are filling. At the current time, most chatbots are simply there to supplement a human customer service team. However, as they get better at what they do, they are going to take more jobs away from human employees.

This phenomenon is an advantage for companies that are looking to save money by cutting staff, but it could affect unemployment numbers, and these people will need to find jobs somewhere.

A Lack of Human Interaction

A chatbot is essentially a piece of software. It can be programmed to recognize millions of words and phrases, and they generally do a good job of providing appropriate responses to customer inquiries.
Chatbots can even be programmed to have a personality and offer some of the nuances that you would expect from human conversation.

However, virtual bots can’t communicate in the exact same way that a human representative would. You’ll find a lot of people that actually prefer the direct approach of a chatbot, but there are still many who find the lack of human qualities off-putting.

Trouble with Complex Tasks

Chatbots can work well for tasks that simply require the recognition of keywords and phrases, and then they provide a preprogrammed response. They can act as an automated FAQ and help customers find things in your store, but they have trouble with more complex operations.

Customers often have complicated questions that will be outside the range of the chatbot program. Customers may also have requests that would require several steps for an issue to be resolved. In these situations, the chatbots meet their limits, and it requires the service of a human representative.

Chatbots already play vital role in the customer service world. They take some of the workload off human representatives, and this allows the customer service team to provide assistance that is more effective, focused, and convenient.

When considering the use of chatbots for customer service, you have to recognize the limitations of this technology. When you understand the roles that they can and cannot fill, it makes it possible to integrate chatbots in with your current customer service strategy in a more effective way that will improve the customer experience.
FURTHER READING: Google has released its chatbot analytics platform ChatBase. The aim is to help developers improve the user experience and uncover what is converting.

Serena Garner

Serena works at Y Media Labs, an agency that creates world-class digital experiences for global brands such as Paypal, L’Oreal and Staples. She often writes about new developments and trends in the digital space.