Chatbots—The Next Step in the Evolution of the Contact Center
Illustration by Justin Putnam

Thanks to the rise of mobile texting and messaging apps, “chatbots” are causing a stir in the world of customer service. In 2016, Business Insider UK wrote that the most powerful tech companies think chatbots are the next best thing since the iPhone. Indeed, Facebook now allows businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through chatbots on Messenger.

Chatbots are computer programs that mimic conversations with people using artificial intelligence. “Bots” are the next step in the evolution of the Internet; they are transforming the way people interact and the future of customer service. So what role will they play in contact centers that are at the heart of customer service and first point of call for many customers?

After all, the millennial generation has come of age and is old enough to make a significant dent on consumer spending. These tech-savvy individuals have high expectations and demand round-the-clock service as well as instant responses.

Direct Contact, Direct Business Impact

Messaging a business directly is a fast and convenient way for people to get in touch with questions about products and services, appointments and customer support. Plus, messaging allows businesses to build personal connections with the people who are interested in them.

Take a look at some of the ways chatbots can make customer communication easier:

  • CONTEXTUAL AND CONVENIENT—Chatbots for Facebook Messenger can provide anything from automated content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications and live automated messages.
  • UNPRECEDENTED CUSTOMER REACH—The latest Send/Receive APIs make it possible for developers to connect with more than 900 million people around the world who use Messenger every day/month on mobile devices. Powerful discovery tools—such as usernames for Messenger help people easily find and connect with the businesses they’re interested in.
  • PERSONALIZING THE EXPERIENCE—Messenger Greetings are customizable notes from a business that appear in a new message thread before messages are sent. Businesses can use this text to greet people and set a friendly tone while letting people know what types of messages are expected.
  • PUTS CUSTOMERS IN CONTROL—Like Facebook, customers can mute/block communications that they don’t want to receive and can spend more time interacting with you. Generic Message Templates mean structured messages with call to actions, horizontal scrolls, urls and postbacks that promote stress-free customer engagement.

Facebook isn’t the only chatbot game in town, but because of Messenger having a reach of around 900 million users plus vast connections with advertisers and a healthy developer ecosystem, it provides the most attractive platform.

Don’t Forget the Humans!

As customer service becomes more and more automated, the inquiries that actually require personal handling are becoming more advanced and necessitate a higher set of skills from agents. Good training and employee loyalty will be ever more important as experience and knowledge will be a premium when dealing with complex customer inquires which cannot be answered by a robot.

Therefore, a sophisticated yet easy-to-use workforce management solution will be essential. Through advanced forecasting, scheduling and competence management, the humans in contact centers will remain more valuable than bots will ever be.

At Teleopti, we believe a combination of bots and well-scheduled human agents with the right skills could be today’s silver bullet solution for effective customer service.

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Magnus Geverts is head of Business Development at Teleopti. He has two decades of experience from Workforce Management as a Consultant, Head of Development, Head of Marketing and Head of Global Sales for Teleopti, a market leader in Workforce Management solutions. In 2010, he relocated to New York where he successfully built up Teleopti operations in both North and South America before moving back to Teleopti’s Swedish headquarters to take responsibility for product management, marketing and strategic partnerships. With customers in over 80 countries, Teleopti leads the way in optimization technologies using employee involvement as a catalyst to improve performance.