People and bots are more compatible than you think. BMW used to run on a two-assembly line process: Industrial robots powered one assembly line, while human technicians powered the other. But when they combined the two, they were astounded to discover the human-robot team was 85 percent more productive than robot-only or human-only assembly lines. “When they got rid of that setup and started bringing people and collaborative robots to work together, they really started to see those big productivity improvements that just weren’t possible through the old way of thinking about automation,” says James Wilson, an AI expert.
According to Wilson and his co-collaborator Paul R. Daugherty, “technology’s larger impact will be in complementing and augmenting human capabilities, not replacing them.” It’s good news for the 72 percent of Americans who feel anxious about a future in which robots can do many human jobs. Customer service agents are already reaping the benefits of teaming up with bots: They’re able to hand off mundane tasks to their robot assistants while they focus on interesting, challenging work.
That’s great for agents, but what’s in it for customers?
Some customers are still hesitant when it comes to bots. More than half of consumers would rather take their customer service issues to a human agent than a bot, according to a TechRepublic report. But they’re not closed off to the idea. Over 70 percent are open to receiving help from a chatbot, though 51 percent would prefer to limit their interactions with bots to simple issues. But consumers have just as much to gain from customer support teams where agents and bots work side-by-side. Here’s why human-bot collaboration is a win for customers as much as it is for agents.
Today’s customers place a premium on fast service. In fact, research done by analyst agency CGS shows that over one-third of consumers ranked having a quick interaction as their top expectation of customer experience. And, for customers who feel hesitant about interacting with a bot, a fast interaction might just win them over: Fifty-four percent of consumers polled in another survey said they didn’t care whether they received customer service from a human or a bot, as long as the interaction was fast.
Service is fastest when human agents and bots work together. Bots can handle low-effort, high-volume inquiries, like “track my package,” reducing wait times for customers who need an agent to help them with more complex issues. Moreover, agents can leverage bots inside conversations to quickly find customer data, like order status, for faster case resolution. Just like on BMW’s factory floor, humans and bots working together are better than either one alone.
No one likes having to explain their predicament over and over. For an already-frustrated user, it can be maddening. In a recent survey, consumers ranked “having to repeat myself” and “having to repeat information to multiple reps” among the most irritating customer service experiences they can have.
When humans and bots collaborate through a platform like ours, they can share information in the same conversation thread, creating a seamless experience for the user. There’s no need to repeat or re-explain—both agent and bot can access the entire conversation history—which creates a more productive and positive experience for the customer.
Humans and bots make a powerful team. And while human-bot collaborations have numerous benefits for agents, they’re just as beneficial for customers. With bots and humans working together, customers experience shorter wait times, faster case resolution, and seamless support interactions. Two heads might be better than one, but a human-bot pair is even better.