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According to a No Jitter post this week by Blair Pleasant of COMMfusion, the top feature for chatbots is the ability for customers to bail out and get to a live agent. “For now, the number one best practice is enabling chatbot users to reach live agents when necessary -- similar to pressing ‘0’ in an IVR system,” she writes.

That pretty much sums up the state of the art: In many cases, at least, the best thing a chatbot can do for you is let you stop talking to the chatbot and get a real human instead.

Blair’s post provides details and humorous examples that show how chatbot technology isn’t ready for prime time yet. Looking at this space more broadly, market research seems to back up the idea that customer experience modernization is lagging. This No Jitter post, by Jeremy Cox of research company Ovum, cites its study finding that fewer than 10% of enterprises claimed to have mastered omnichannel contact—a deficiency that Jeremy labels as the greatest challenge facing digital transformation for customer care.

And the small minority that have implemented omnichannel successfully pose a real problem for the vast majority who haven’t, Jeremy writes. He points out that digital-native companies like Amazon and Uber have taken advantage of their lack of an installed technology base to set a standard for customer experience that legacy companies have struggled to match.

Jeremy describes one legacy company that seems to be getting it right--Inditex, a Spanish fashion retailer. Its secret? Focusing on the customer rather than the technology: “Inditex has no single technology bullet, but rather a habit of combining technologies that make interactions simpler, more pleasurable, and reliable for its customers, irrespective of geographical distances.”

Clearly, companies like Inditex have strong coordination between technology and business unit leaders. The strategy of combining selected legacy technologies with targeted new investments can only work when there’s this type of mutual understanding.

The demands for ever-improving customer service won’t let up any time soon, and forklift technology upgrades are not in the offing for most enterprises. Cloud-based contact center technologies can help ease the transition, but even this isn’t likely to be a flash-cut. So the process is likely to involve a continual attempt to address pain points as they arise, and deliver exciting new channels and interfaces where these can be developed.

We’d love to learn more about how your enterprise is tackling the contact center and customer experience challenges you face. If you’re an enterprise decision-maker with responsibility in these areas, I invite you to take our survey on the topic. We’ll publish results on No Jitter over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Eric Krapf
GM & Program Co-Chair Enterprise Connect & WorkSpace Connect
Publisher, No Jitter

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