Bots and AI are at the frontline of many businesses. The first impressions of a company are now more about brand personality and how to make things look amazing. But if you focus on making your website look stunning and building your tribe on Instagram, then you’re creating an illusion. Plus you’re missing a trick when it comes to true customer engagement.
It might seem quaint and old-fashioned but people still do prefer to interact with people at the frontline. People make things happen, people care, bots don’t. We’re all used to call queues that endlessly tell us that the answers are on the website, which they’re not. And we know that live chat is a direct interface with a bot. Google mini and Alexa have become fixtures in our homes and AI and bots are creeping into our lives.
Of course as far as business is concerned it’s all about saving money and maximising profits. The idea being that you automate the frontline as much as possible, in order to deploy people to fee earning related tasks. The whole concept is so deeply flawed though because the de-valuing of the frontline team only leads to customer dissatisfaction.
Businesses value money, but people value time. In fact, time is the most precious commodity we all have, so we need to spend it wisely. If a business does not value its customer’s time then it sends a very loud and clear message. Customers that feel undervalued will not be loyal and will not spread good news about your business. They will come to the fast realisation that it’s sunshine and teddy bears when you’re taking money off them, but if something goes wrong or they need help, you don’t want to know.
So it’s the businesses with short terms strategies and revolving customers that tend to use bots. Companies that actually value people, their own people and clients and customers will be more successful because they listen. They can put themselves in the position of the customer, they know that time is valuable to people so they won’t expect them to be in a call queue for 30 minutes, or have bots on their live chat. Businesses that invest in this approach as a longer term strategy will reap the benefits.
Of course there are many businesses who outsource their frontline. This is a win-win situation for everybody. Companies can benefit from reduced overheads and don’t have to worry about covering sick leave or holidays. Calls are answered promptly and professionally by real people and messages are delivered straight away. Calls can also be transferred from the frontline to people within the business, meaning a smooth and effective customer service delivery.
Importantly, customers and clients benefit because they are speaking with people. This alone builds rapport and relationships and that feel good factor. However much AI you throw at the frontline a bot is never going to help in building relationships and loyalty and for that reason they will never be a substitute for a real person.