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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : February 13, 2017

Expert: How to engage chatbots without losing the human touch

While chatbots are getting more play where on-site search and customer service are concerned, one of the key drawbacks is that chatbots leave out the comfort of the human element. One expert offers advice on how to employ bots while keeping the human touch.

by Kristina Knight

Giles House, CMO & EVP, CallidusCloud: Usually, people don't buy from bots, unless the purchase is fairly basic - a refill of a supply, some commodity goods, etc. Those automated sales are becoming more driven by Internet of Things technology. More complex sales need a human touch to establish trust, to provide answers to unique questions, and to apply human thought to the components of a solution. Chatbots may capture the raw data around those answers but they still can't deliver on the human part of that equation; they can't bring empathy, trust or a sense of teamwork into a deal

Kristina: How can brands protect themselves from these issues?

Giles: Don't be so enthusiastic about the new technology that you see it as a panacea. CRM suffered from the same thinking; because it didn't solve all sales problems, a lot of early adopted thought it was a failure. In reality, it's one part of a set of sales tools that still needs human talent to be truly effective. Chatbots are similar: they are very useful, but only in the roles they're suited for. Second, your primary considerations should be their value to the customer, not to your company. If you're using them to make the customer experience better, that's good; if you're using them to reduce internal headcount, that's not so good, because those human skills will be needed to close deals.

Kristina: Are these potential problems an indicator that brands should shy away from chatbots, at least for now?

Giles: No - they simply point out that deploying chatbots requires more thought than a lot of sales technology decisions, because they come in direct contact with customers. It's worth taking the time to make sure that interaction is well thought out and can contribute to the customer's satisfaction with your business.

Tags: callidus cloud, chatbot trends, chatbots, ecommerce, ecommerce trends

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