The use of chatbots is growing rapidly. Many organizations are exploring ways in how they can use chatbots in order to improve the customer experience. With more and more organizations using chatbots everyday, an important question arises: “Will chatbots replace humans?”
In this blogpost, I will give an answer to that particular question. But the conclusion? Hell No.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot facilitates an automated conversation between a human and a computer. Normally, you have a conversation with a friend on your messenger app (for example WhatsApp). But with chatbots, it is slightly different. Because you do not talk with another human, but with a computer.
The chatbot gives automatic responses to your questions. But it is not only used for answering questions. It could also be used as a digital assistant, helping you with everyday tasks (for example, reminding you which things you need to do today).
The benefit of using a chatbot for organizations is that it can decrease the customer service costs, increase the sales or automatically qualify leads.
Automation and jobs
So the important question arises: Will chatbots replace humans? Well, maybe we do not only need to pay attention to chatbots, but more to automation in general.
Automation tends to replace routine jobs. Jobs that doesn’t change over time, where the employee needs to do the same thing over and over again.
This is also where chatbots are really good in: giving questions to standard answers. But where do chatbots lack? With non-standard questions.
A chatbot can give a perfectly good answer to “What are your opening times?”. But a chatbot cannot give a good answer to “What was the last time you made a mistake?”
So, first of all, if chatbots are going to replace jobs, they are only going to replace routine jobs. But that is not all.
Instead of seeing automation as a replacement of humans, you could better see it as a complement. It helps humans.
Over the years, it is proven that automation does not replace humans at all. Rather, automation is used in order to complement humans, so they can do their jobs faster and more efficient. Even for jobs that replaced humans, that didn’t mean they got fired. They got an other job at the same company. To illustrate this, I will give you an example: ATMs.
The classic example – ATMs
Everbody knows what an ATM is and I guess most of you are using an ATM on a regular basis. But do you know what it was like to get your cash before ATMs?
You needed to go to the bank and wait in line in order to get your money. So you went to a desk, there was a bank employee and they gave you the cash in person.
So what happened when the ATM came around? Everyone got fired, right? No.
What happened is that people who worked at banks as a “human-ATM” did not get fired, but got another job. A job in relational banking. A strategy used by banks to strengthen loyalty with their customers.
So for automation that replaced humans, humans were not fired.
Chatbots still need human involvement
What also is important to say: many chatbots still need human involvement. And why is that? Because they cannot learn from themselves. Most chatbots these days are still really basic, just keyword-based chatbots.
This means that the chatbot is made based on responding to certain keywords. So if a user types in a sentence with the words “opening times”, the chatbot will respond with the opening times for the store. But who gives in those keywords? You guessed it already: Humans.
But with advances in machine learning techniques, it could happen in the future, that chatbots can generate these kind of keywords themselves and learn from their own behavior. But in how many years? Nobody would know.
Who are involved?
Chatbots are nowadays mainly used in customer service and in sales. So these jobs are mainly “threatened” by chatbots. But as I said before, chatbots are not here to replace humans, but to complement them. So how are chatbots going to complement humans in customer service and in sales?
Employees in Customer Service
Most companies use livechat in order to provide customer service to their customers. But 80% of the questions that are asked through livechat are standard questions, which could be easily answered by a chatbot.
The result? Customer service employees now have more time per customer. So they have more time really understanding the problem of the customer, giving the best solution to their problem and give an overall better customer experience.
On the other hand, customers who have standard questions, get an immediate answer to their question (instead of waiting for a customer representative to be available), which also provides a better customer experience.
Employees in Sales
For the Sales department, it is really the same thing. By using chatbots to (partially) automate the sales process, the sales representative has more time per customer. Therefore, they have more time for really understanding the problem of the customer, giving the best solution and give an overall better customer experience.
Will chatbots replace humans?
- No, instead of replacing humans, rather think of it as complementing humans.
Which areas are mainly involved?
- Customer service and sales
- By using chatbots, the customer service / sales representative has more time per customer, so they can increase the overall customer experience