Are You Really Ready for Chatbots in Your Contact Center? Part I

By Christina Gates

0 min read

In the last decade, bots have slowly infiltrated my daily life. I ask Alexa for measurement conversions in my kitchen. I lazily use Siri to find and open apps on my phone. And, I talk to my Tesla for navigation help when on the road. With bots becoming more mainstream, the allure of implementing them in the workplace is high. Bots are always-on entities with the potential to make voice and digital self-service more accessible, efficient and personalized for consumers, while deflecting inbound calls and reducing routine inquiries for call center agents. Gartner predicts 25% of customer service and support operations will have integrated bots across engagement channels by 2020.

"25% of customer service and support operations will have integrated bots across engagement channels by 2020."

Gartner

That same report cites a reduction of up to 70% in call, chat and/or email inquiries after implementing a bot. With results like that, it’s easy to understand why companies are so interested in getting started! But, don’t be too quick to jump in — deploying chatbots can cause more harm than good if you haven’t fully considered your digital strategy. Follow these steps to be sure you’re building a bot that will wow your customers.



Understand agent-assisted chat first


If you haven’t yet added live chat or messaging apps to your contact center strategy, you need to start there. (Here’s a guide on Making the Move to Omnichannel to help you do just that!) Trying to launch a chatbot before you’ve implemented assisted chat is like trying to drive a Formula 1 racing car before you’ve learned to ride a bike.


If your digital transformation is further along, then it’s time to take a closer look at how those channels are performing. Consider the data and determine:


  • What digital channels are you using for inbound queries, and which are most active?
  • How do metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT) and Speed to Answer differ between channels?
  • Which questions most frequently occur on digital channels?
  • Of those questions, which are best suited to be automated and handled by a bot?
  • Will chatbots be used exclusively for inbound interactions, or also for proactive outbound engagement?
  • Do you have a knowledge base that can be used in combination with a bot to enhance the depth and breadth of self-service?

While chatbots can ultimately cut costs in your contact center, they can also add development maintenance effort. Understanding how your channels are used today sets you up for greater success when defining objectives for your chatbot.



Identify your workstream


Even when chatbots have been identified as a contact center operations initiative, other departments in the organization should be consulted and involved in the implementation. These are likely to include:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Experience
  • IT

Marketing is invested in customer care, brand awareness and identity, and proactive engagement strategies. Consider your chatbot’s initial greeting and overall personality.



Sales will want to explore chatbots as a channel for capturing new segments and pushing products. For campaign strategies, identify and define target personas as well as offers that resonate with them. Discuss what kind of consumer data could be collected.


Customer Experience wants to improve by offering a variety of self-service options. Of course, these options should create a positive and fulfilling experience (not a frustrating one).


IT can identify what integrations are needed to bridge information from existing systems (e.g, an appointment management or an inventory system) and enhance a bot’s capabilities. They can help choose an appropriate vendor and advise on whether to design flows in-house or seek the help of professional services. Explore the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your various options.


Together, determine where to focus efforts and plot a roadmap for execution.

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Making the Move to Omnichannel

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Christina Gates

Christina Gates has spent 7 years in the contact center industry, helping companies move to the cloud, embrace new technologies and deliver better experiences one customer conversation at a time.