Chatbots or Human Chat Agents for Better Customer Service?

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How do your customers currently communicate with your business? If they are only able to call you, email you or submit a form, you aren’t keeping up with the times.

Studies show that three out of four consumers see chat as the most convenient way that they can think of to reach out to the businesses that they deal with.

One in two prefer the phone, email or social media, but three out of four prefer chat. Nine out of ten people who use chat indicate that they are satisfied with the interactions that they have — which is a far better rate of customer satisfaction than seen with other forms of customer support.

Clearly, you need to offer chat on your business website to allow your customers to communicate with you. How exactly should you go about it, though – with a chatbot or with human customer representatives?

Chatbots and human chat

The truth is, either choice — chatbots or human interaction — makes sense, depending on what you apply it to. What follows are descriptions of the different ways in which human chat and chatbots are likely to excel. Additional, learn how either option can help your business to communicate with and get to know your customers.

Response times

With email support and phone support, the periods of time for which customers need to wait to obtain the answers they need can be a problem. On average, customer service emails take 17 hours to come back with a reply, and questions posted on social media take 10 hours. Customers tend to not appreciate being made to wait this long. The average wait times on live chat conversations, on the other hand, tend to be no longer than two minutes, a benefit that is not lost on customers.

Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that chat isn’t perfect. About one in five human chat support requests made to businesses go unanswered. These requests may come in after customer service hours, or may simply get lost when there are too many customers demanding attention, and too few customer service agents available to give it to them. Chatbots, since they are software-based, are always online, and always capable of instant responses.

When a customer reaches out to your business, it makes sense to start them off with a chatbot. This way, you gather a little preliminary information on the nature of the request and transfer the customer to the right representatives when they are freed up. It can offer customers tremendous satisfaction with a company they deal with, to be able to begin their conversations right away.

Cost efficiency

Studies show that chat with human representatives tends to be less expensive to administer than phone support, by about a third. When human representatives service customers through chat, they are able to juggle multiple customers at the same time, something that cannot be done with phone calls. While you could outsource your customer support to a third-party agency, many businesses don’t prefer the method, for reasons of loss of support quality.

About one in two small businesses put just one agent on their human chat support. When you add chatbots to the mix, you increase the efficiency of your human representatives.

The human touch

Chatbots can be convincingly human-like in many situations. Often, people chatting with chatbots are unaware that the presence on the other end is a machine. Chatbots can quickly and efficiently answer questions about whether a specific item is in stock, or about business hours. They are unable to replace humans in every situation, however. 

There are times, as well, when people prefer speaking to a real person because they see that a chatbot is unable to answer their questions, or they worry that it will make a mistake. In these situations, chatbots can be a good way to offer callers an initial measure of satisfaction, until human help becomes available. Ultimately a human will almost always be more successfully at understanding a customer’s needs than a chatbot.

24-hour customer service

Large corporations may be able to man human support lines 24 hours a day, but small businesses are usually unable to provide such convenience. Chatbots, however, can respond to customers calling after business hours, and during weekends. These machines tend to be capable, too — research shows that chatbots are able to solve customer problems eight out of ten times. Machine support can offer 80 percent of your customers the support that they need, 24 hours a day. It’s an impressively cost-effective way to create customer satisfaction.

Conversions

Chat can be a powerful way to drive conversions. Studies show that about one in three consumers on e-commerce websites convert and make purchases when they are able to have their questions answered through chat. You can help push for conversions if you’re proactive, and attempt to begin a conversation with every person who arrives on your website. 

It wouldn’t be practical to have a human agent pop up a message to every visitor. A chatbot, however, could do it. Millions of e-commerce websites offer proactive chat by chatbots, that ask every visitor if they have a question that they would like to have answered. Being proactive can help net more conversions.

In conclusion

Putting a chat interface on your customer-facing website is an excellent way to deliver superior customer satisfaction. Ideally, your chat arrangement should involve a human agent; it should also include a chatbot, however, for the ability to offer quick responses to questions and responses when human agents are unavailable. When you use both together, you get to supercharge your customer service.