Remember chatbots? These creations were among the most hyped innovations in business technology just a few years ago. Facebook made a prominent commitment to implementing chatbots within its Messenger application, while Microsoft developed Tay, a bot with its own responsive Twitter account. The proposed uses for chatbots at the time were vast, covering everything from weather reports to assistance when shopping online.
In practice, chatbots weren't quite ready for prime time when many of them rolled out to mass audiences in 2016. Tay was shut down within hours after it behaved unpredictably in response to Twitter interactions and Facebook similarly decommissioned a few chatbots it had been using to test negotiation-specific language. These results were similar to the shortcomings of many other forms of artificial intelligence (AI), including IBM's "Jeopardy"-winning Watson AI, which while technically impressive can seem "dumb" when it comes to thinking like humans.
"Chatbots weren't quite ready for prime time when many of them rolled out to mass audiences in 2016."
Chatbots haven't gone away by any means, they've just moved out of the public eye and into narrower use cases, such as unified communications (UC) contact centers. Chatbots represent yet another channel for connecting customers to organizations, one that can potentially extend upon the advantages of live chat.
With chat, agents have already gained key advantages over phone and email, such as proactive nudging (i.e., a message offering to assist a customer on the site) and more granular recordkeeping (since chat logs are more easily searchable than call recordings). Chatbots can potentially extend and complement these capabilities by offering:
Indeed, chatbots may be better understood as extensions of current contact center improvements in automation and efficiency, rather than as disruptive innovations. UC contact center solutions such as Teo Contact Center already offer capabilities such as computer telephony integration (aka CTI). CTI allows agents to view account information details in real-time on their PCs during calls and can be used in tandem with automatic call distribution to optimize agent workflows and deliver personalized responses – something chatbots aren't currently good at.
Chatbots can be viewed as the tip of the spear for cloud computing's influence over customer service. The automation and scale of cloud-hosted resources has enabled more cost-effective and multifaceted contact center operations than were possible when on-premises infrastructure was the only option.
Even without chatbots, the benefits of cloud are interwoven with solutions like Teo Contact Center, which can be deployed in the cloud or locally depending on your organization's particular requirements (the feature set is identical regardless of implementation type). Deep integrations with existing business applications and legacy systems, a comprehensive interactive voice response system for resolving inquiries without agent intervention and a powerful outbound multimedia interaction controller make it easier than ever to support a modern contact center.
Contact Teo today to learn more about UC contact center offerings!
Publish Date: January 30, 2018 5:00 AM
Charlotte Purvis is a speaker and communication consultant who has influenced an average of one million customer interactions each year for over 20 years. She consults, trains, and speaks on customer service, business communication, and leadership development for global companies, universities, and community organizations. She practices what she teaches as evidenced by nearly 100% of her engagements coming from repeat or referral business.
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