Customer service, while likened to back-office or desk jobs, has long been outsourced to third parties (call centres) for resolving customer queries. Over the years, outsourcing customer support services has hampered organizational flexibility, brand value, and privacy. With some automation, the digital revolution shifted businesses toward adopting Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology for handling and prioritizing high volume of calls, simplifying customer service processes, and cutting overhead expenses. Although IVR allowed companies to automate their customer support and increase professionalism, the complex routing mechanism and inflexibility resulted in customers dissatisfaction towards an organization or a brand. In today's highly connected and personalized world, customers demand instant resolution of grievances and high-quality customer service at anytime, anywhere.
With the proliferation of data and technology -- which has led to improvements in artificial intelligence and natural language interpretation -- it's now safe to assume we are rapidly entering the age of the chatbots. When we're conversing with a company online, we're quickly getting to the point where we don't know if we're talking to a human or a machine. Recently, I wanted to find out why my cell phone bill was going up. I figured online chat was the best way to see if my supplier could help. It started out fine, albeit a little fishy.
Additionally, chatbots can transfer a caller to a customer service agent if a human is needed in the loop. This increases productivity and enables agents to only handle the more complex cases, instead of dealing with mundane or easily answered questions, such as package tracking info, store hours or return policies. The fact that customers can get their questions answered without the need for a human employee is beneficial not only because of how much time it can save customers, but because it allows them to have a positive and seamless experience with a company or group that they are working with. Chatbots are also increasingly being used to replace human customer support staff. Since chatbots provide a consistent, always-positive interaction with customers and round-the-clock support and service when human assistants are not available, it makes a lot of sense to have them always available.
The world as we know it is changing at a fast pace. A couple of years ago we could not have imagined that we would be able to talk to our friends on another continent using free services, have our traditional wallets on our mobile phones or that we could chat with a computer. Now, our lives are unthinkable without technology. Technology has transformed the way we live and has made it so much easier for us to do our everyday tasks. From grocery shopping to sending money overseas, everything is now just a click away.