A chatbot is a computer program created to mimic human conversation. Typically, chatbots are used in businesses to reduce the need for human customer service representatives. Technical experts program the most frequently asked questions and their answers into the chatbot using artificial intelligence. This enables chatbots to mimic their interactions with customers online, allowing for streamlined communication and for customers to find answers to queries or get directions to information they require without the need for a real person to engage with them. The business saves time and money, and the customer leaves happy and satisfied.
At least, this is what happens in theory. While chatbots can be extremely useful and efficient for businesses, in some instances, they are by no means flawless. The conversations between chatbots and humans will never be as meaningful or natural as those between people.
Incorporating a chatbot to take care of your customer service into your site can be a smart move. However, it’s essential to understand their limitations and adjust expectations accordingly. A chatbot is only as eloquent as the script it is programmed with. It can only work with what it has been given. Because of this, it’s wise to use chatbots with caution. Otherwise, you might find your chatbot takes on a life of its own, resulting in embarrassing fails for your businesses.
To avoid this happening to you, let’s look at some of the most common chatbot fails that resulted in confusion and hilarity!
The main problem with chatbots is their limitations. Tech people can’t program a chatbot to understand customer intent and will undoubtedly, at some point, be asked a question they cannot compute the answer for. Often, if a chatbot doesn’t know the answer, it will try to ask a clarifying question that should put them back on the right path and enable them to use one of their pre-programmed responses. This can end up taking a conversation around in amusing or frustrating circles where the chatbot desperately tries to find familiar ground. However, instead of doing so, it continues to flounder, killing the conversation, sounding like a broken record, or, in the worst/ funniest cases, seeming to get crossed with the user.
Programming the chatbot to respond with humility should they become confused can resolve a user’s intent. They can assume responsibility for, acknowledge, and apologize for the confusion and redirect them to a customer service agent, if necessary.
A no-nonsense attitude
While there is definitely such a thing as a chatbot that’s overly chatty, the alternative can end in equally hilarious results. When chatbots are designed to be too efficient, the resulting interaction can be one that, to put it delicately, lacks the human touch. There have been numerous instances when chatbot responses have been less than sympathetic, and if their only goal is to be as productive as possible, this can leave customers feeling ignored, undervalued, and downright offended in some cases.
While some chatbots can come across a little cold, others have the exact opposite problem and can feel somewhat like an over-friendly stranger sitting uncomfortably close to you on a bus. When chatbots get too personal, it can feel downright creepy. They can collect lots of data from a user’s online interactions and use this in an attempt to make those interactions more personal, but more often than not, fail miserably. Chatbots definitely need to ask before they store personal information rather than mining for it without explicit permission. Making user privacy a priority is always a good thing.
Another chatbot fail that often ends in amusing interaction is when the chatbot acts as if they don’t want to give too much away. They come across as attempting to be mysterious, coy, or just downright ridiculous. The less specific a chatbot’s response, the more likely it is to be totally irrelevant. Suppose you want your chatbot to manage too many different aspects of your business. In that case, it might not handle any of them well, and it is more likely to fire back some bizarre, vague, or even nonsensical responses to your customers.
How to use a chatbot well
When it comes to using a chatbot on your business website, you need to make sure you understand what it can do. If you have accurate knowledge, you can manage your own and your customer’s expectations. In doing so, you will avoid creating potentially embarrassing situations where your chatbot responds in a way you didn’t predict.
Of course, chatbots will continue to advance and will get smarter. In doing so, responding naturally and understanding user intent will also improve. Until then, if you can view chatbots as a helpful but limited tool to enhance your customer service, you should avoid any amusing chatbot fails that could leave your company feeling a little red-faced.