I stumbled upon an article on Inc. magazine the other day about chatbots — avatars you can put on your website to answer questions and help customers (not to be confused with Autobots). While virtual receptionists are real people who work out of a remote office, chatbots reside on websites and are typically cartoons or photos of people that have been programmed to automatically respond to common questions.
It got us thinking…who would win in a fight to provide the best customer service for your business? Let’s get ready to rumble!
- Round I: Understanding. While a bot can hazard a guess at a person’s intent, a live virtual receptionist will be able to interpret it better. If a chatbot misinterprets something, it could be frustrating for the customer to have to rephrase their question. And a live person can always ask a quick qualifying question if necessary so that customers won’t have to repeat themselves (“Were you looking for car insurance or life insurance?”). Point: Virtual receptionists.
- Round II: Tone. Sometimes it’s not what a person says, but how they say it. A live person can pick up on inflections in the caller’s voice and tailor responses to their mood. Someone in a hurry may type the same question as someone who has oodles of time; a live virtual receptionist can differentiate between the two by their tone and match each caller’s communication style. Point: Virtual receptionists.
- Round III: Price. Both chatbots and virtual receptionist services are a fraction of the price of having a full-time employee in the office, but if you have a small business, a chatbot may be cheaper. Though sites with large numbers of queries may cost around the same amount per month as a live virtual receptionist, we’ll call this round in favor of the robots. Point: Robots.
- Round IV: Going above and beyond. A chatbot won’t be able to make the same judgment calls a live person will, no matter how smart the programming. A human can anticipate a caller’s needs and offer to help before they even have to ask. Point: Virtual receptionists.
- Round V: Personal connection. While a cartoon or photo of a human may be smiling, there is no substitute for an actual human who will crack a joke and share a laugh with your customers. People do business with people they like — and that’s the K.O. for the bots in this battle!
Winner: Virtual receptionists!