Bots are gradually disrupting the customer service industry by springing up a new channel of communication. According to Gartner, the implementation of bot technology has helped companies reduce inquiries through other channels by 70%. This helps customer care agents dedicate more time and energy to their respective cases, ensuring a better customer experience.

Gone are the days when customers would have to queue up on the phone just to get human assistance. The Millennials and the new generation don’t want to be on the phone line to get answers to their questions; they are used to accessing information by themselves on the web. Situations cannot be avoided where they have to reach out to customer service to answer their specific questions.

Most companies are using automated systems that will ask customers to choose the topic they need help with, and more recently, companies have adapted to automatic voice recognition systems. The point of using voice recognition systems is to promote self-service; if there is a close match to customer’s questions, the system can help you with that.

The same is also valid for chatbots; companies are using Information Retrieval techniques to design systems that can parse through customer’s questions and present relevant documents.

While using automated bots to help customers is proliferating, a critical piece of the puzzle is missing – Empathetic communication.

What is empathy and what does it mean for bots?

By definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. It can be classified into cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate (affective) empathy.

Bots are great at matching questions to predefined company policies and training guides, but unfortunately, they cannot converse naturally with the customer. 

While the idea of relying on machines and bots to autonomously communicate with customers for all of their queries is too far-fetched, AI can help you to design systems that can be more empathetic.

Below are some ways through which companies provide a personalized experience and can connect emotionally with their customers:

  • Understand customer’s history: Assume you are a medical insurance company and a new dad, an existing customer is interacting with your chatbot to get some help with their documents. Providing their plain documents back is a simple task. But what if they recently added their newborn child as a dependent, and that record is accessible to the bot? Think about the experience the customer will have if the bot wishes them back by saying – “I hope all is well with the newborn, I might be a bot, but I can teach you how to change diapers :-)”.
  • The answer doesn’t always follow a question: The automated voice systems and chatbots don’t consider how natural a conversation works. For instance, if you ask a bot a question; nine times out of ten, they will respond to you with an answer. A natural conversation doesn’t work this way. A real customer service agent might ask follow-up questions if they want to provide better service or understand the context a little better. A lot can be achieved by changing the way you train your bots. For instance, one can teach the bots to come with a “dialogue act” that suits the situation.
  • Reduce bias: The prime motivators for promoting virtual assistants, chatbots etc. is to encourage self-help and gain efficiencies. There is much focus on developing state-of-the-art AI systems that are computationally efficient and highly available. Still, very little science is going behind the words these bots choose. Proper AI and Natural Language Processing design techniques can train bots to generate more personalized language for the customer.

It’s important to understand and study business requirements and implement emotionally intelligent bots that can create a good impact on customer relationships.