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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Why Customer Service Robots Don't Exist (Yet)


Hal 9000

“I’m afraid I can’t talk to customers, Dave.”

I don’t think anyone can deny that robots are pretty cool. I mean, we can send machines to the bottom of the sea or to the depths of space. Robots have improved efficiency and quality of life in warehouses, factories, and mines. IBM’sDeep Blue wiped the floor with chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. As I write this, NASA’s Curiosity rover is probably making first contact with Martians (and tweeting about it). Occasionally, robots can even travel back in time,shapeshift, or conquer the whole human race. Yeah, robots are better than us at almost everything. Almost.

There is one arena that human beings are not quite obsolete: customer service. I’m sure that many of us have run the nightmare gauntlet of a corporate phone tree, so we know just how frustrating and useless automated operators can be. My experience with chat providerActivEngage has taught me that nothing turns off web shoppers like the feeling that they are conversing with a machine. Your customers want the attention of a real person to answer their questions and help them find their next vehicle.

Here are some tips to help you avoid sounding mechanical when engaging your visitors through live chat and email:

  • Don’t sweat small mistakes.

Though widely considered inappropriate and unprofessional, a small slip-up or typo can prove your humanity to web shoppers. If you’re working hard on a live chat and catch yourself inputting a misspelling or grammatical error, quickly correct yourself and apologize. Your visitor will forgive you. Know that your capacity for human error is a strength, not a weakness.

  • Throw out your script.

People are pretty smart. If you’re abusing canned responses or copy-pasting corny one-liners into your live chat conversations, your visitor is going to know. Your main priority in these chats should be to listen and react accordingly. Don’t try to stuff your pre-scripted narrative down your customer’s throat; you’re just insulting his or her intelligence.

  • Personalize your conversation.

Always add context to your customer interactions online. Address your customers by name. Wish them a good morning to show that you’re aware of the passage of time. Greet them the same way you would greet them in the real world. Use friendliness and your own personal brand of humor to lighten the mood and show your human side.

At the heart of ActivEngage’s philosophy lies the belief that it is people, not technology, that sells cars. Robots may best us in physical strength and processing power, but they lack the very thing that makes customers feel welcome, that builds brand loyalty, that makes your dealership the best place to buy a new car: communication. So while this robot may win 100% of the time at rock-paper-scissors, it can not increase car sales at your store. It can not feel pain, or love, or desire. Robots can not dream, or laugh, or cry.

But when robots can do these things – we’re all pretty much doomed.

Jim Bell
Great tips to those that are doing their own chats onsite Stephen. I always get a chuckle when I see someone ask if they are chatting with a real person.

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