Messaging Chat-Bots: Customer Convenience or Pain in the Bot?

Bots for messenger

Screen-Shot-2016-06-09-at-1.39.32-PMWitnessing the rapid growth of digital customer service over the past two years, today’s customers have come to expect a variety of messaging options when contacting companies for support.

Until recently, Facebook Messenger had been one of several channels in the social media customer service arsenal. However, following last year’s separation of the Messenger app from Facebook, Messenger has become an independent entity, which is expanding in exciting new ways.

Messenger customer service has a been a hit! Customers love how Messenger conveniently offers them two-way communication with businesses without having to wait on hold. Already holding the title for the most popular communications app in North America, Messenger is a must-have for customer service departments.

There has been a lot of buzz lately around turning Messenger into an automated customer service channel, kicking off a fast romance between contact centers and the idea of chat-bots.

The Love Bot

It’s the latest word in digital customer service: AI-driven bots that promise to fulfill your customer’s every need faster than the speed of thought.

The bot-genie was unleashed at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference 2016 when Messenger CEO David Marcus announced that Facebook had opened its chat app for bot development for customer service. Marcus then provided a vision of how Messenger’s chat-bots would automatically provide low-cost, immediate answers to your customers’ questions. Suddenly the customer service community was in love with bots!

But, could automating customer service with AI-driven bots pose a risk? Consider recent high-profile efforts at automated responses.

“Chat bots should avoid becoming a barrier to the personal interaction customers are looking for when they message your business.”

Microsoft recently attempted to connect with technically sophisticated Twitter users via an AI chat-bot, resulting in several mischievous manipulations of Microsoft’s Twitter-bot which caused it to let loose inappropriate, semi-coherent rants over Twitter. While Twitter is no stranger to such discourse, it was an embarrassment to Microsoft and proved that AI chat-bots need limits before unleashing them on customers.

Before seriously considering Messenger bots, we should be prepared for chat-bots to be used in unexpected ways. Some of the most popular queries to iPhone’s intelligent assistant Siri are also the most offensive, and yet result in some of Siri’s most humorous replies. In the four years following the birth of Siri for iPhone, Apple has learned to prepare for anything. So, what do the experts say we can expect from bots in the near future?

We checked in with digital customer service thought leader and CEO of In The Chat Communications, John Huehn. In the Chat’s digital customer service platform already integrates with Facebook Messenger for customer service and features powerful text analytics that responds automatically to inbound messages. In a slightly different approach to chat-bots, In the Chat’s text analytics routes inbound messages to the appropriate agent or department. The approach successfully combines the speed of automation with personal customer care by quickly bringing a qualified live-agent into a two-way chat with customers. We asked John Huehn for his best advice to businesses interested in implementing Messenger bots for customer service.

“The reason people want to connect digitally to your company in the first place is for easy access to personal service without waiting on hold,” John affirms.

He also suggests that, “Today’s chat-bot technology will best serve your customers if they’re focused only on a pre-defined set of resolutions—like a self-serve engine delivering instant answers to a limited set of questions most frequently asked by customers on their way to a personal interaction.”

“Chat bots should avoid becoming a barrier to the personal interaction customers are looking for when they message your business.”

John goes on to say, “The bottom line is…nobody who calls your company wants to talk to an IVR. So, don’t think about chat-bots as another form of IVR that is intended toreplace human interaction. Rather, think of it as helping along the way to that personal interaction.”

In the Chat has demonstrated that AI-driven bots and text analytics work best for your customers when they work behind-the-scenes. John warns that bots could easily become the next IVR if they’re used inappropriately.

He concludes by pointing out that businesses implementing digital customer service do best when they remember how we all use digital messaging with friends and family in our day-to-day lives.

Messaging should be convenient path to meaningful communication – not a barrier to your business.

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About the Author: Wayde Robson