Are chatbots the solution to dealing with customer support questions?

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What are the advantages of chatbots

Benefits of chatbots for firms

Some of the key benefits of chatbots for companies include:

  • Cost savings: This is possibly one of the main driving reasons to implement chatbots – it is costly to provide customer support. automating at least part of the process can bring significant cost savings. While there may be development costs as part of creating a chat-bot, these costs are only incurred once, while the savings will continue.
  • Consistency in responses: Another possible advantage is it can improve your response to customer queries. Rather than provide customers with incorrect or inconsistent information from different support individuals, you can develop the correct response, and be confident that you are not giving out wrong information.
  • Provide support for free offerings: Another advantage is that it may allow you to be better placed to give support out in situations when it would not be cost-effective to do so. The freemium business model for example involves offering a service for free (making money off individuals that upgrade). Providing support to such individuals is often cost-prohibitive. Chatbots are one approach to serve this segment of your customers. 

Benefits of chatbots for customers

As well as benefits for firms, there are several potential benefits of chatbots to your customers. These include:

  • Quick responses to questions: Chatbots can respond instantaneously, with no time on hold waiting to speak to a human.
  • The ability to answer questions when no support would otherwise be justified: For self-service environments, the comparison may not be between a chatbot and a human, but rather a chatbot or nothing. They can be a cost-effective way of providing some support in situations where a human agent would not be cost-effective. 

Limitations of chatbots

While there are many potential benefits of chatbots – both for firms and customers, there are limitations of the approach.

Limitations of chatbots for customers

  • It can be a frustrating experience: Depending on the implementation, chatbots can be a frustrating experience for customers. If they are unable to interpret the question or answer it, customers may feel like they are wasting their time talking to a computer. 
  • Questions may still remain after the chat: Another component of frustration can be if users still have questions after the chat. IF a chatbot appears the only way of getting support, and it isn’t able to respond to questions, it can be difficult to know where next to turn. 

Limitations of chatbots for firms

While there may be opportunities for using chatbots in organizations, there are also some limitations to doing so. These include:

  • The cost associated with developing the chatbot: Developing a chatbot is not easy – there are substantial costs involved in creating the logic of interpreting and responding to customer queries. 
  • Potential impact on company brand: Depending on the implementation, the frustration customers have in dealing with chatbots may also impact your overall brand. Unless they are actually helpful, they may have a negative impact.

The future?: Potentially as technology evolves, but be aware of the limitations now

When considering implementing a chatbot to respond to customer requests it is important to be aware of both the possibilities, but also the limitations. They hold great promise for responding to a range of customer queries but are also not the magic solution to your customer support issues either. Keep in mind the areas of the business with the most standard questions where they may be best suited, and where questions are more complex potentially requiring more human involvement.