Voicebots, also sometimes called virtual assistants, have become an accepted part of our modern lives. Siri and Alexa are now literally household names, and an increasing number of businesses are offering virtual assistance through voicebots as part of their digital customer experience.
Voicebots are becoming more accepted by customers and consumers as a way to interact with a whole range of services from a business. For a business, however, there is an important question: will your customers want to interact with a voicebot? There are some scenarios where customers will want to talk with a voicebot and some scenarios where they won’t. Let’s take a look at both.
Our basic intuition is that humans will always want to speak to another human rather than an automated voicebot if that is possible. But let’s examine that intuition. What if that assumption was only true some of the time? Under which circumstances would people actually prefer to talk with a voicebot than a human?
Interacting with a voicebot for the first time is a novel experience. It’s not something everyone would look forward to, but for some people it’s fascinating. As part of a well managed brand communication strategy, interacting with a voicebot can generate buzz. GPS and SatNav brands have already tapped into this with a range of celebrity voices powering their voice services. Fancy getting personalized road directions from Arnold Schwarzenegger? Nav app Waze made it possible as part of a promotional campaign for an upcoming Terminator film. Why not do the same with your celebrity virtual assistant? Tech fans and early adopters tend to be vocal about their experiences with novel technology and share those experiences enthusiastically with others.
Convenience is probably the most cited reason for people to want to interact with a voicebot. If it’s a choice of a lengthy wait on the line for a human operator versus a quick chat with a virtual assistant to complete a simple transaction, most people will happily at least try with the voicebot while they are waiting. At peak times when contact centers experience a high number of customer calls, voicebots can easily handle the higher volume of customer inquiries. And first contact issue resolution rates are high with a well-defined and trained virtual assistant, meaning customers are even more likely to want to speak with the voicebot next time they call.
Psychologists have made extensive studies of our sometimes pathological behavior to avoid embarrassing, awkward or potentially confrontational interactions. There is an interesting role for virtual assistants in making people feel more comfortable where they would sometimes feel awkward or embarrassed talking to a real human. Ordering a repeat prescription for a medical condition a patient finds embarrassing to discuss or checking up on a dangerously overloaded credit limit are just two examples where people might be happier to talk with a virtual assistant if they can avoid talking to a human agent.
There’s a predictability in automated processes that regular users of a service will eventually find comforting. If you use a voice service frequently for similar transactions, you might find interacting with a voicebot faster, more predictable and therefore more comfortable than talking with the human agent.
There are, of course, circumstances where talking with a voicebot will be less desirable than talking to a human agent.
If your problem requires a level of human-to-human understanding and compassion, talking with a human agent will always trump talking to an automated service. We excel at empathy and, for the time being, bots do not.
If you are already frustrated with a service, being passed to yet another automated process is almost certainly going to compound that sense of frustration. A well designed customer service experience will make sure customers get passed on to a human agent for issue resolution well before frustration builds.
On the other hand, for the contact center, having a voicebot handle customer calls might actually be a good thing when customers are getting frustrated. A voicebot will not respond to the emotions of the customer. The customer will need to resolve their issue without venting their frustration.
Sometimes a customer’s issue is just complex. Voicebots excel at discrete transactions and will struggle with resolving transaction requests with multiple branching points of logic. When a customer has a complex problem to be solved, it will generally be preferable to put them in touch with a customer service specialist as soon as you can.
With an understanding of this basic psychology of how humans like to interact with voicebots (or not), you can begin to evaluate which processes in your business could be automated with a voicebot to deliver a customer experience that elicits delight rather than provokes groans.
Voicebots excel at providing these services at contact centers:
When set up correctly for a contact center, voicebots can provide these services and hand over the customer inquiries you want your human agents to handle. It’s a best-of-both-worlds approach that many contact centers are adopting so they can provide great customer service that is also cost-effective.
If you’re interested in learning more about how voicebots could be used to help your business serve more customers with better service, request a demo with the Talkie.ai team now.
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