were all the rage of 2016 – and there is no sign of it subsiding in
2017. Unfortunately, many bot implementations have not lived up to the
inflated expectations. However, chatbots have real value when properly
conceived, and one area with tremendous potential is customer service.
Let’s look at some facts:
1: Consumers hate to repeat themselves, hate to wait on hold — or just
outright hate phoning businesses in the first place (2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index).
By taking the conversation to a messaging channel (to complement IVR),
contact centers immediately benefit from an “eternal thread” between
the enterprise and the customer, which can be built upon with every new
conversation. Furthermore, contact center agents benefit from the
asynchronous nature of the channel, they can pace the dialog at their
convenience without any perceived “on hold” times. Agents can also
multi-task during messaging and chat conversations, while a phone call
takes their entire attention.
Fact 2: The most expensive cost factor in the contact center is labor.
Many agents are employed to do mundane, repetitive tasks, such as
asking about the nature of the call (pre-qualification), or who the
customer is (authentication). Oftentimes, they are also tasked with
answering routine inquiries such as “what is my balance.”
Human performance deteriorates when confronted with boring repetition,
yet thrives with engaging challenges. Humans shouldn’t spend their time
doing mundane and non-creative work for long periods of time; in the
same way, bots shouldn’t be doing complex work, such as solving a
complicated service issue, or providing a human touch to calm an angry
customer. In the world of customer care and the contact center, the
human and the digital employee (aka bot) can co-exist peacefully and
even enhance the performance of each other.
Rather than port games or frequently needed utilities over to the world
of conversational UIs (CUIs), why don’t we leave those with mobile apps
where they belong, and tackle an area in desperate need of improvement?
A Simple Business Case for Customer Service Bots
Let’s do some (simplified) math on a typical customer service inquiry:
“where is my order” (WISMO). On average, a call with an agent in the
contact center costs the business about $2.50. Now compare that to a
“digital employee” having a messaging-based conversation with you; the
following example goes even beyond the WISMO inquiry and shows change
of delivery address:
Let’s assume that the cost per message (both directions) comes to 2
cents. With an average of 4 messages back and forth we would be at
$0.08. That would mean $0.08 to do the same task with a digital
employee, vs. $2.50 to complete it with a regular employee: savings of over 95%
Finally, let’s assume you handle 5000 inquiries a day, and you can,
through marketing or announcing the new option on the phone, convince
20% of your customers to try messaging vs. calling in the future. That
would mean $2500/day (or $912k a year) when using live agents. Compared
to $80/day (or ~$29k a year) with a bot.
Bottom line: the initial cost of developing the bot aside, following this simple model, can save that company over $880k a year with a chatbot!
To those familiar with automation in the contact center, these numbers
shouldn’t come as a surprise. IVR is known to cost only 1/10th of an
agent, and Interactive Text Response (ITR) can easily reduce this cost
further, so that even more savings can be accomplished when taking the
step from voice to messaging. For most retailers, WISMO inquiries are
still the number one reason why customers call them; and because of the
challenge with entering alphanumeric order codes over IVR, most of
these are still handled by live agents. With chatbots, what you type is
what you get, so new use cases become possible that aren’t feasible or
affordable with IVR.
Finally, introducing convenience through messaging can positively
impact CSAT or NPS (Net Promoter Score). Just a few points up mean a
lot to many organizations these days, as customer experience is
increasingly becoming a distinguishing factor.
Let’s start building bots that deliver on this vision — and then, let’s talk again about how useful a chatbot is…