Chatbots for the Call Center and Customer Service

June 13, 2019

The topic of chatbots has rapidly become one of the most popular in the call center industry. There has recently been an explosion of chatbots. Some people believe these chatbots will be the end of the call center industry. While that is unlikely to happen, they can be used to enhance the customer experience and customer service.

Where we are now with chatbots is similar to where we were with IVR about 10-15 years ago. Many people thought IVR would revolutionize the customer experience and render call center reps obsolete. That hasn’t happened nor will it. There are some similarities when we talk about chatbots.

Rule-Based Bot

We have found that rule-based bots can handle about 80% of customer questions. We also use them for lead generation. Rule-based bots are basically virtual IVRs. They give you a menu and you hit the right buttons to go down the path you want. They have keyword recognition to help guide customers to the right destination. Using a rule-based chatbot can help take volume away from the call center by answering the majority of simple questions your customers may have.

That being said, chatbots can never replace a customer service rep. Some customers can find them annoying or frustrating and would prefer to speak to a real person. There should be an easy integration for your customer to turn the session into a live chat with a real person.


The term AI is often misused. AII is a data-centric bot that can collect information and learn from your profile. If you’ve called before, it can retain that information from your previous customer service interactions. It then can present this data back to you to make your customer service interactions easier.

Keyword-Centric Bot

With this bot, you simply type in your query into the platform. The bot will pick up keywords from your message to know what it is you’re asking.

Contextual Bot

The contextual bot “learns” and assimilates your data, taking into consideration your previous interactions with customer service. It can prompt you and ask if you would like to do the same things you’ve done previously. This bot is more “conversational” than the previous two types.

Should You Use a Bot?

You may not want or need a bot for your customer service. First, understand your customers. Understand the types of questions they typically ask your customer service representatives. If they tend to ask very in-depth, high-end questions, a chatbot won’t cut it. They’ll need to speak to a rep.

Nonetheless, you do need some sort of texting/chatting self-service, in your customer service. Almost everyone has a cell phone capable of using apps, and those customers want a fast and easy platform for answering quick customer service questions.

Look into what these different bots can do. They can answer simple questions, book appointments, buy products, and help you pay a bill or check a balance. These are all simple tasks a customer may not want to talk to a rep for. For customers with more difficult questions, they’ll need to speak to a rep. Bots are also not quite as good at the upsell/cross-sell as a person might be.

You could even use more than one type of bot. You could have a bot to answer customer questions and another for lead generation. Before developing a bot, you’ll want to analyze your data for a few weeks and narrow down your top customer questions, and if those could be integrated into the chatbot, and how.

Developing a bot can range from $10,000-$25,000 and up, depending on the sophistication of the bot. Often you may pay a flat rate of about 50 cents per use of the bot.

In Closing

Chatbots are very interesting technology, and new functions are being added every day. Don’t panic if you haven’t implemented a chatbot or if you’re not sure about it. Adding a chatbot to your customer service repertoire, which you can outsource so you don’t even have to deal with the logistics, will greatly enhance the customer experience.

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