Four ways to make chatbots feel more human

Andrea Lowe | November 07, 2018

Chatbots are an effective way for companies to automate customer service and provide the seamless, self-service experiences many consumers want – there’s just one problem: too many chatbots aren’t up to the task. To be effective, chatbots need to be intelligent and capable of providing the same level of empathetic customer support a human agent would, but all too often they can’t.

If you’ve implemented a chatbot that can’t understand what your customers are telling it, or one that sounds too robotic when engaging with customers, you’re likely doing more harm than good for your customer experience. Here are four ways to make your chatbot feel more human.

1. Create an identity and personality for your chatbot

Agents with personable, empathetic personalities can do a lot to improve customer service – the same could be said about chatbots. When you design your chatbot, give it a personality that fits with your brand and make sure it’s intelligent enough to hold its own during conversations. Chatbots that come across robotic or repeatedly state “I don’t understand” won’t live up to expectations and can dissuade customers from using your chatbot again, defeating the purpose of your implementation. Think about how your best human agent would respond, and try to emulate that experience.

You can also take personalization up a notch by giving your chatbot additional humanizing aspects, like a name or even an avatar – just never pretend your bot is human – customers hate that. Make it clear from the start they’re talking to a chatbot.

2. Play up your chatbot’s strengths

Though AI and machine learning are helping chatbots get smarter every day, they’re still best suited for handling repetitive tasks and answering simple questions that can become tiresome to human agents. By allowing chatbots to handle tasks such as inventory checks, order status, account balance, flight info, etc., you provide customers with fast, self-serve experiences and free up your agents to focus on more complicated customer journeys.

Chatbots are also unmatched at searching for data and can find information and answers much faster than human agents ever could. Let chatbots work behind the scenes to help your agents find what they need to quickly answer customer questions and watch your AHT decline and your CSAT soar.

Chatbots Like Human

Don't force automation for the sake of automation - use chatbots where they work best.

3. Use sentiment analysis to detect emotion and respond accordingly

When a customer is upset, human agents are able to pick up on that right away and respond appropriately – your chatbot should do the same. Phrases like “I understand” “I am here to help” or “Let me get that information for you” feel conversational and human and show the customer you care.

You should also use sentiment analysis to analyze the intensity of customer emotions so your chatbot can determine when to hand them over to a human agent. Triggers can include keywords like ‘manager’ or ‘human’ or phrases like ‘I already tried that!!!!’ When your chatbot does hand a customer over to a human agent, make sure it’s handing off the full conversation history so the customer doesn’t get further upset by being forced to start their journey again.

4. Give customers a way out

Though customers are getting more comfortable engaging with technology, it doesn’t mean you should trap them in conversations with chatbots. Design your customer journeys so chatbots take the conversation as far as possible, but make it easy for customers to connect with a human agent if they feel like they aren’t getting the answers they need. Keep track of where escalations occur so you can determine if there is a way to fix the journey to prevent it from happening again.

Want more advice for elevating your customer experience? Download our article, Eight Ways to Make Chatbots and Customer Service More Human. In it, you’ll learn how to incorporate chatbots into your customer experience without losing the human touch and discover how to strike the right balance of AI and agents so your customers always come away happy.