AI has been a hot topic in recent months, as companies, pundits and others discuss artificial intelligence’s rapid evolution and its potential for improving businesses. Much of the conversation has been directed toward art and software development, but customer service remains a major area of opportunity for business owners. Today, 23% of customer service organizations are using AI chatbots; with the chatbot market growing at a CAGR of 22.5% , it’s likely that number will continue to rise.
So, what role are chatbots playing in business today? We at Botco.ai surveyed 1,000 contact center professionals in November 2022 to better understand their current status and get a better picture of where they’re headed.
AI Chatbots Are Becoming Near Universal
Contact centers are overwhelmingly turning to chatbots to help handle customer inquiries. Nearly 76% of survey respondents currently use chatbots or automated chat, though that number will likely increase with time. Of the 19% of respondents that aren’t using chatbots, 31% of them plan to implement them in the future.
The widespread adoption of chatbot technology indicates that AI will be an initial touch point for many — if not most — customer service inquiries. By leveraging chatbots for initial inquiries, businesses can address basic customer service processes with fewer resources, improving the time and attention that human customer service agents can devote to deeper issues.
Are Chatbots Replacing Human Employees?
Given how discussions about AI have transpired in the mainstream, it’s natural that some employees are concerned that chatbots are there to replace them. Indeed, our survey found that nearly 30% of contact center employees felt that AI chatbots were there to replace them. However, 46% indicated that chatbots are there to augment a human team’s capabilities, rather than replace individuals.
Chatbots’ most meaningful impact is currently derived from the automation of repetitive tasks and fulfilling simpler service demands from customers. Contact center workers say that chatbots deflect 46% of calls 20–30% of the time. Those calls typically aren’t complex issues, though. In fact, 37% of calls deflected were non-emergency service calls. Chatbots are simply lessening the load for humans, taking care of garden variety calls so humans have time to solve complex customer problems.
Contact centers will need fewer human employees, but those employees will have a far better quality of life. Repetitive, monotonous work causes burnout in humans, but chatbots are incapable of feeling that way. Letting employees handle complex issues will help eliminate burnout and make them more satisfied overall. Happy employees work harder, so, in effect, leveraging chatbots results in a stronger business while giving employees a sense of fulfillment.
Perceived Issues Using Chatbots
While chatbots are a powerful tool for contact centers, they’re not without their limitations. Of our respondents, 35% stated that their chatbot solution creates logistical issues with scheduling or other business applications. It’s not a challenge that’s impossible to overcome, however: 58% of respondents stated that their chatbot integrates with their scheduling database, while 68% stated that their chatbot integrates with their CRM and/or customer profiles.
The time it takes to train a chatbot is also a concern for 39% of contact center professionals surveyed. It’s true that chatbot training takes time, as it must know how to respond to various inquiries and intents before going live. That time investment pays off in long-term efficiency as chatbots effectively tackle repetitive day-to-day tasks. It’s worth noting that a chatbot’s capacity for learning doesn’t end when training does; they’ll continue to improve as they encounter situations, gradually improving the customer experience as they do.
Respondents not worried about getting a chatbot up to speed are concerned about the price to implement one. Of those not using chatbots, 40% thought they were too expensive to implement. But are chatbots really that pricey? AI chatbots cost roughly 10% of a human agent, work 24/7 and don’t take breaks. Those capabilities give chatbots plenty of opportunity to generate ROI, especially if the chatbot is improving the customer experience. As always, the best indicator will be how the implementation affects KPIs.
The Future of Chatbots
Our most recent report, “The State of Chatbots in Contact Centers,” offers more insights into how chatbots are being used today, but one thing is clear: Chatbots are here to stay. The advantages of tireless workers able to field calls are self-evident. While there are still some questions about AI’s role in our society, the benefits outweigh the cons for many organizations. The writing has been on the wall for years that a new epoch of AI is on its way, but we may already be in it.
Percent of calls currently deflected by chatbots at contact centers
What are the top chatbot integrations used at contact centers?
Anu Shukla is co-founder and executive chair of Botco.ai., a HIPPA-compliant, AI-powered conversational marketing cloud solution that can be implemented at scale to improve engagement rates. Today, the company offers industry-leading authoring, webchat and AI machine-learning capabilities to quickly and effectively convert more customers in healthcare, wellness, addiction, behavioral health, physical therapy and senior living centers.
Botco.ai is the recipient of the Arizona Innovation Challenge “Most Outstanding Startup” award and a graduate of Alchemist Accelerator Class XXV, the No. 1 accelerator for enterprise startups.
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