Myths and Truths about Customer Service Chatbots

We bust 7 myths about the ability of modern AI chatbots
Jose Reader
March 11, 2020

In our conversations with tourism operators around New Zealand and the Pacific, we find a healthy degree of scepticism about the ability of chatbots to deliver great customer service. So we thought we’d bust a few myths...

Myth 1: Chatbots can replace humans

Truth:  Chatbots reduce workload by answering routine questions, and free-up customer service teams to focus on more complex enquiries that require a human touch. The most efficient customer service teams have chatbots and real people.

Our customers - exclusively tourism businesses -  achieve between 50-85% of incoming chat enquiries answered by the bot, without staff intervention. For situations where staff need to answer, the chatbot gathers required information to make the interaction with your customer service team time efficient, saving 2-5 minutes per conversation.

So, a chatbot is a super efficient extension to your customer service team, but it won’t replace them.

Myth 2: Chatbots can’t provide personalised customer service like my team

Truth:  Think again. A well-trained AI chatbot will do exactly that… For example, it will guide a traveller asking about suitability for a child under five to the product best suited to their needs. It will point those asking about wheelchairs to the information about the options for those with accessibility needs. Yonder can even use the webpage someone is on as context for what they are asking about.  Our Yonder chatbot will even tell you a joke if you ask :-) 

Myth 2: Customers hate dealing with chatbots

Truth: What travellers really hate is waiting for an answer. Research shows that around 40% of customers are relaxed whether they come from a chatbot or a person - as long as they get the info they want. (HubSpot, 2017) You might find it funny to learn many people say “Thanks” to the chatbot, and it’s because they got what they needed.

Myth 3: Chatbots are easy to create

Truth:  Creating a basic chatbot with a low cost platform is certainly possible... but, it’s probably not going to work as you'd hoped because it will lack functionality and the data needed to make it work properly. 

Modern natural language AI chatbots, like Yonder, require a lot of conversational data to drive good outcomes, typically 100+ phrases for every question asked. Most tourism businesses can’t produce that volume of conversation data on their own, and as a result, any off-the-shelf chatbot isn’t going to perform as expected because it lacks the necessary data to drive good outcomes.

Yonder is unique because we’ve aggregated data from all conversations through our platform (around a million and counting), and created a question bank that is unparalleled in its comprehensiveness. It allows our chatbots to hit the ground running in record time, and provides a solution at a price-point to suit all sizes of tourism businesses.

Myth 4:  Chatbots are useless 

Truth: Today’s chatbots save huge amounts of staff time. Customers benefit too, because conversations are shorter and the response is instant since the bot is available 24/7 (unlike most customer service teams). A few years ago, though, they were useless, and there are some out there today that are still pretty useless because they’ve been designed poorly, not maintained, or haven’t got enough data to understand what you’re saying.

We reckon saving 200 hours of staff time saved in a single month, is the exact opposite of useless.

One of our customers saved this much staff time during Jan 2020 (read the case study) and results like this are typical for high-volume attractions and tourism activities.

Myth 5:  Live chat is what customers want

Truth: What customers want is quick answers to their enquiries. An AI chatbot offers that - it excels at answering routine questions about pricing, cancellation, and availability. 

Live chat sets the expectation that someone will always be available to answer, and when you don’t (because who has staff available to answer at 2am?!) the customer leaves without booking because their question wasn’t answered. If someone is uncertain they’re not going to book.

After unsatisfactory results with a live chat only option, we’ve had customers come to us to deploy an AI chatbot (with live chat capability) because the live chat only option was difficult to resource and didn’t meet their needs. Do your research about the functionality needed, consider how you’ll resource it and get the option that best suits your needs.

Fact: 100 percent of our clients deploy the AI chat + live chat hybrid.

Myth 6:  Chatbots know everything

Truth: The AI chatbot won’t know the answer to every question, but it learns as it goes, so gets better at answering over time. We wrote a blog recently on how an AI chatbot works - if you want to know more, check it out.

Myth 7: Customers prefer to use phone or email

Truth: The instantaneous nature of responses is one of the reasons people are embracing chatbot over email and phone, which typically have long wait times. Travellers are commonly booking 24-48 hours out, so if they ask a question, waiting until tomorrow for an answer isn’t good enough, and it means you will more than likely miss out on a sale. 

Our research shows that 40% of chats occur outside normal business hours. A chatbot answers questions while you’re asleep, offering instant answers that today’s travellers are demanding - all without your customer service team having to lift a finger. Answering questions helps customers move toward booking, so it’s a win-win for you and your customer.

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