Forrester Research has significantly increased its coverage of Chatbots especially for delivering customer service. They are already seeing evidence that chatbots are starting to make a difference where customers used to be frustrated when they get placed
in a telephone queue or loop when trying to reach the customer service desk.
The ability for a chatbot to be available 24/7 every day and handle parallel conversations means the customer no longer needs to wait. Their research confirms that customers are used to messaging apps and therefore interacting in a similar way with a chatbot
is simply natural. In addition, the convenience of customers engaging the chatbot from their favourite apps is just making things so simple, without the need to switch into a different channel.
Forrester believe the increasing popularity of customer facing chatbots must focus on several key outcomes to be successful:
1. Deflect customers from expensive live agent support through successful self-service with the chatbot.
2. Reduce the average handle time for agent-assisted support by managing some of the conversation in the chatbot.
3. Expand self-service to emerging channels such as mobile apps, social media, and mobile messaging.
4. Use existing contact center agents and logs of historical customer service interactions to train chatbots.
5. Identify gaps in knowledge bases used by agents through analysis of chatbot interactions.
6. Drive new revenue through improved online conversion.
Forrester Research cite Taco Bell in the USA, which has ‘employed’ chatbots to handle frequently asked questions (FAQs) before the customer service desk, either to weed out and handle these routine questions without any human intervention, or to help direct
questions that do need human input to the right person.
72% of retailers questioned by Forrester in the US plan to use chatbots during 2018 that blend marketing and customer service for deeper conversations. Though this trend was inevitable it does mask the corporate in-fighting as Marketing, Sales and Customer
Services fight amongst themselves for own owns the dialogue.
From a technical perspective Forrester Research have identified four key critical enablers:
- Natural language understanding
- Machine learning
- Dialogue management
- Dialogue reporting and analytics
The part that is missing from this research are some of the following issues:
- Understanding the different methods of dialogue as Natural Language Processing has limitations
- Supporting an Omnichannel strategy
- Protecting the brand from deviant and harmful conversations
- Ensuring compliance to regulations, policies and procedures
- Transparency of the algorithms supporting key customer decisions
- Maintaining a full audit trail of the conversation
- Redesigning workflows and form filling
- Sensing early emergent patterns and changing quickly in response
But for sure, chatbots are coming into the mainstream of the market.