Chatbots today are where websites were in the mid-1990s. They’re basic, but they have a fundamental friction advantage. And they will get better and better until they’re indistinguishable from native apps.
Ted Livingston, CEO of Kik Messenger, pinned it in a famous blog post. Many tech visionaries have been touting similar future for chatbots and conversational web.
We, as a bot-first customer support platform, do agree to this. In a long foreseen future, one can assume algorithms to be so immaculate that they attain a similar level of cognizance as that of humans.
But wait, hold your water! The aforementioned scenario is not a possibility in near future. To attain human-level cognition, or what is famously termed as Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), there is a long(50 years? or 100? or maybe more) way to go.
Today, and in near future, chatbots are here to assist, not replace us.
Customer support is one vertical which has seen real-world use cases for chatbots. And with all the technology we have, there is a human intervention needed at certain points in solving your customers’ queries and delighting them.
Chatbots and Humans — The current scenario
Artificial Intelligence has been dubbed as the technology of the decade. With the advent of increased data processing capabilities(GPUs) and Advanced Deep Learning architectures, AI has taken a new leap altogether in past few years. Chatbots are usually driven by such intelligent algorithms.
AI-driven chatbots are extensively being used in customer support. The idea is to take over the initial interaction with customers and route them to different places based on the queries.
It has been speculated by the ever foreseeing herd that these intelligent algorithms will eventually eat up the jobs of customer support agents and are here to replace them. But as mentioned earlier, chatbots are here to assist humans in providing a faster, contextual and better support experience.
Chatbots can be used to perform mundane, repetitive and simple tasks such as collecting information for booking a hotel/flight, routing users to answer their generic queries, filling up a form or giving recommendations. AI-powered chatbots, in the current form, are not yet capable of handling complex queries which require a higher level of cognition.
In the words of Steve Wozniak:
For machines to override human beings, they would have to do every step in society, of digging oars out of quarries and refining materials and building up all the products and everything we have in our lives, and making clothes and food. That would take hundreds of years to change the infrastructure.
Let’s look at this example:
A customer comes to your website and has a question about the pricing. A basic support chatbot can route her to pricing page and specific knowledge base to help her understand the pricing structure. Additionally, the chatbot can collect information such as email or phone number through conversational forms and rich messaging.
But what if the user needs to understand the integration process of the product, availability of discounts or complex business queries? The best idea would be to route the conversation to a support agent who can handle complex queries.
Additionally, chatbots have limited multitasking capabilities when compared to humans. A bot trained to book hotels for customers cannot answer their pricing queries or a support bot trained to route users to specific knowledge base cannot be made to process a sale or payment.
Even the brand new algorithms such as Multi-task Learning(MTL), which are trained to perform multiple tasks at once, are fruitful only if the tasks they are subjected to solve are quite similar. Such as booking a hotel and booking a flight.
Given the limitations of Natural Language Understanding capabilities of AI algorithms and the lack of multi-tasking, the best bet would be for a hybrid system which combines the power of automation in form of chatbots and human cognizance.
The bots can be the gateways for initial customer interaction and complex, more human queries can be routed to customer support agents for providing a delightful support experience for your customers.
The bots can be great of great help to your customer support team as they have no downtime and are even available during off hours. They can perform routine and mundane tasks so your customer support agents can tackle important problems your customers are facing. A win-win altogether.
New and emerging technologies such as chatbots can be leveraged to increase work efficiency and attain better outcomes. Essentially, chatbots are here to stay, and so are the customer support agents. A combination of these two is what the future holds the door for.
At Kommunicate, we are envisioning a world-beating customer support solution to empower the new era of customer support. We are currently in Beta and releasing the polished product by the end of December. We would love to have you onboard to have a first-hand experience of Kommunicate. You can signup here.