Is a Chatbot Your Next Summer Intern?

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Interns are an easy way for companies to bring on extra help during their busiest seasons as well as offer a “try-before-you-buy” opportunity where organizations can evaluate the potential for future full-time hires. However, this can also come with setbacks since a learning curve is often expected with new interns. Rarely do interns come in with a full understanding of a company’s product suite, how to answer customer questions, or where to direct the customer. But, as time goes they adapt, learn, and eventually have the potential to be brought on full time.

This is also the case for companies that adopt chatbots or hire ‘digital employees’. While a chatbot doesn’t begin fully acclimated, with time it becomes smarter to better serve your customers and even helps to manage mundane tasks, freeing up more of your employees’ time. In fact, in a soon to be released survey done by Aspect Software, 44% of customer service reps said that if a chatbot was handling mundane support questions, the reps would be able to apply their intellect.

Companies and agents alike believe that there is an advantage in using a chatbot to help serve your customers. For example, the chatbot Aspect Software designed for the Radisson Blu Edwardian, a collection of 12 luxury hotels across London, is seeing 60% of all their guest inquiries are being made using ‘Edward’, the name they’ve given their virtual host.  Agents also feel that they have a better chance of moving up in the organization if they can prove they can handle customer questions that require more subject matter expertise. Chatbots are designed not only to empower consumers but also to improve employee satisfaction and enterprise efficiency.

By handing off mundane and easily asked questions to chatbots companies can expect a faster response time and give agents more time to spend on complex customer inquiries that require a more personal, human touch. A company wouldn’t use a new intern to de-escalate an upset customer call or solve a complex problem, and in the same way, when evaluating a chatbot companies should consider the complexity of an issue as well as the level or empathy and experience needed to respond to different situations. If the request is a simple process like, tracking an order or rescheduling an appointment it’s likely that a chatbot is more than capable of handling it. But if a customer needs to leverage an agent’s personal experience and skills to solve a problem, a chatbot is not the right solution. Problem-solving will always require a human touch but simple data lookups or transactions that follow business rules can easily be given to a chatbot.

Chatbots and agents should support each other, with the chatbot freeing up more time for the agent by taking on easy, straightforward tasks and the agent feeling more empowered to handle complex situations. Like hiring a summer intern, a chatbot has the potential to grow with a company, to learn how to handle different situations, and ultimately become an “employee” that you lean on.