customer transformation

Shall we wait or automate?


Chatbots: it seems that there are those who love them, and those who aren’t so sure. Whilst the rapidly growing presence of AI in customer service functions is incredibly exciting for us at Sentient Machines, the same cannot always be said for some of those who come face to face with automation online and over the phone. In fact, a report from CGS claims that the majority of those surveyed actually prefer to interact with a human to a chatbot. Reasons for this include the fact that chat bots could be less helpful than a human, and also that interaction with a chatbot was too impersonal.

Such claims beg us to pose the question of whether the customer service space is quite ready for chatbots. Is it best to automate, or wait?

Why companies use chatbots

As discussed in our previous post, companies use automation because they can help speed up processes, and save money in doing so. They can provide quick responses to frequently asked questions, which means:

  • there is less of a demand to employ human agents

  • human agents are free to respond to slightly more complex customer issues

  • waiting time for customers can be reduced to zero

  • there will be a 247 access line for customers

Chatbots can cut queues and costs. Surely this benefits both the service provider and the customer?

Bots vs Humans

On the surface, bots appear to be the superior option to human:

  • Humans are often slower to respond than an automated bot

  • Humans are less available to answer a customer call (ie, they are often talking to other customers and cause queues)

  • Humans do not often have quick access to customer records, and so can block actions

However, CGS reports that, to those surveyed, bots lost out to humans simply in their lack of, well, humanity:

  • Bots’ answers are not as detailed as those of humans

  • Bots are less helpful than humans, and tend to redirect customers to FAQ pages on websites

  • Customers don’t always feel comfortable sharing their data with a bot

  • Complex, and sometimes personal issues, require a person to solve.

So, what would the ideal situation be?

It would appear that customers want speed in fixing their issues, but they are not so open to impersonal responses to complex issues.

Ideally, then, customers should have access to both chatbot answers, and human resource, depending on their needs. If call reason is captured straightaway, and used to determine whether the call should be redirected to a bot or a human, then a happy medium should be reached.

Ease the transition

Whilst the presence of AI in customer service brings with it undeniable benefits to both customer and company, it also brings with it teething problems and uncertainties. The answer to the question may be a gradual and careful transition: neither waiting nor automating everything straightaway!

Instead, the process of introducing automation to customer service can be eased with various steps towards compromise. Primarily, there should always be the possibility of interaction with a human agent. In other words, a chatbot should not be the only option. The call reason must be what determines whether a customer is redirected to a bot or a human agent, with bots handling simple queries (for instance, ‘how can I pay this water bill?’) and humans taking more complex issues. If you want to find out more about how we are doing this please register your interest here by the 28th September.

Secondly, human agents and bots must be able to coexist in customer service. Agents must be trained in order to be able to deal with the more complex issues faced by customers. If automation takes care of the simple requests, extra time must be taken to ensure that call centre agents are upskilled. Companies should take the time to analyse their data and use it to train up their staff in the type of situations they may face. This way, human agents and bots can be of equal use. If you want to find out more about how you can use Sentient Analytics to improve staff training, and how you can benefit from Sentient Automate on top of that analytics, register here by the 28th September!

Finally, transparency and honesty about data protection is paramount. Customers should trust the companies, in the hope that they will learn to trust the chatbots they meet on their customer service line.

How can AI improve QA efficiency by 90% and the quality of your customer service by at least 30%?

Discovering how AI can assist with both internal processes and customer service can drive up organisational productivity. Structuring data analytics can provide the insights that businesses need to monitor quality, formulate predictions, and also make crucial decisions, whilst process automation cuts cost and alleviates stress for both customers and employees.  

Sentient Analytics

Organisations are utilising data analytics to extract information that can be focused on enhanced decision-making and customer service. Companies can leverage AI to extract data much more systematically in order to determine a number of things, for example, the reason for a customer filing a complaint. Equally, they may use authentic data to predict when customers might churn to a competitor, or what they are most likely to purchase.

Sentient Analytics listens to all the words of every conversation in call centre interactions and immediately interprets them in order to try and solve customer dissatisfaction. Our cloud solution provides businesses with an in-depth analysis of conversations with customers, labelling lexical and audio features so that customer sentiment can be monitored for change throughout their engagement with call agents.

The insights provided by Sentient Analytics can help improve the quality of customer service. It can flag problematic conversations for finding swift solutions, or for training call centre staff. With the chance to review examples of both negative and positive interactions, staff can be trained in emotional awareness and ‘next-step’ actions. Indeed, organisations have delivered training based on data analysed by the tool, with outstanding results. A telecommunications client recorded an improvement of quality of service by 30% within a week of using Sentient Analytics, whilst one retail client recorded a 40% drop in negative staff sentiment.

Insights provided by the cloud solution can also aid with cost saving, and business development. For instance, a Fintech client was able to identify 7% of lost opportunities, and use the information in business planning. They could also identify the reason for repeat calls, and as a result they were then able to reduce 24% of calls through automation.


Sentient Automate

The automation of simple processes provides companies with numerous benefits. Using AI saves the cost of a manual process, which is favourable to company productivity. It also increases efficiency, which helps both customers and employees. Equally, automating simple processes means that employees are free to deal with more complex situations, such as sensitive requests where emotional-awareness is necessary.

Using advances in machine learning and natural language processing, Sentient Machines have created a bot platform that can redirect and also automate customer interaction where necessary. The bot uses speech and text analytics, and is able to first detect reason for call and then, depending on the type or complexity of the call, either reroute to a human agent or carry out the conversation itself. The chatbot is able to complete the conversation without human aid for a simple transaction, such as updating account details or paying a bill for example.

A bot can speed up processes and deliver systematic results. Our Fintech customer is estimated to achieve a further call cost reduction of 45% through using Sentient Automate. They were able to automate security checks, repetitive calls, and calls concerning process queries. Our retail client achieved a further call cost reduction of 48%, whilst our telecommunications client has been able to start planning for 24/7 customer support, to further enhance their customer service.

If you want to learn more about Sentient Analytics and Sentient Automate, and how they can transform your customer service, please write to us at hello at