Chatbots Are NOT a Replacement for Human Agents: Here’s Why

Nothing excites business owners more than the opportunities to cut cost. So it’s no surprise that in the era of chatbots, many customer service organizations are jumping at the opportunity to show human agents the door.

On the surface, this makes sense. Chatbots are everywhere these days. Amazon’s Echo is a cultural phenomenon, so is Apple’s Siri and Microsoft is trying to create something similar with Cortana.

For businesses that directly deal with customers, chatbots offer quite a lot. They cost less than human agents, reduce chances of error and don’t take any bathroom breaks. In many ways, they are something out of a business owner’s dream.

However, data suggests replacing agents with bots is not as fruitful as many employers would like to believe.

Many Customers Prefer Human Agents

There’s no denying that bots can bring great efficiency to many areas of business. From a simple business name generator to applications that can automate entire HR operations – bots can optimize multiple organizational procedures.

But when it comes to dealing with customers, a study by CGS offers a fascinating insight. The report states that despite what many ‘futurist’ would have you believe, most customers still prefer human agents over chatbots.

Here are some important highlights from the report.

  • 40% of respondents in the USA said they prefer a person while around 50% of the UK responders held the same opinion.
  • 60% of the American respondents and 56% of the UK respondents said they turn to human when the issue is complex.
  • 13% of Americans and 25% of the UK answerers felt that conversations with bots felt impersonal.
The report recommends using AI solutions to manage less-complicated queries and human agents to take on a more tactical role, focusing on more complex requests.

Chatbots Don’t Work In Every Situation

Customers prefer humans over bots for a wide variety of reasons. Not only can humans answer questions on a fly, they can be compassionate towards frustrated customers and offer them some reassurance.

In many situations, such as in the matter concerning personal health, people might feel uncomfortable having a discussion with a bot, as they cannot provide the level of empathy and understanding that’s needed in delicates situations.

Although it’s true sometimes the human agents can imitate bots. By following a script and not diverging regardless of the situation. But that’s an issue that can be solved with a bit of training.

With chatbots, there is also an issue of accessibility with these programs failing to assist people with physical disabilities like visual impairment.

Blending Human Skills with Chatbot Efficiency

Instead of replacing human agents, chatbots should boost their efficiency. Human touch combined with the proficiency of AI can create a seamless end-to-end experience that businesses strive to provide.

Here are some models of chatbots and agents working in harmony that needs to be replicated throughout the industry.

1. Chatbots assisting agents rather than the customer

Instead of the AI tool interacting with the customers, it can observe their conversation with the human agents and provide relevant suggestions. The agents can either push out the suggestion with a simple click or modify them as per requirement. This would optimize the entire operation without customers ever conversing with a stolid bot.

2. Front-end chatbots managing routine task, freeing up agents to resolve complex problems

In this approach, chatbots can gather all the information from the customers before forwarding the conversation to the human agent. The agents will receive contextual customer data such as important bits from the previous conversation, order details and inventory information. This will allow agents to manage the customer in the most appropriate manner.

3. Human agent invoking chatbot on command

Here, a human agent can call on the chatbot to handle a particular task, and then proceed to take back control of the interaction. In this model, humans can manage issues that require their skills and expertise while handing over more routine task to the bots. However, unlike the front-end chatbot system, the agent and bot can go back and forth.

4. Chatbots training human agents

Using chatbots as tools for training agents can be both cost and time-efficient for organizations. New agents can learn from chatbots how to give the best responses to customer queries and quality assurance teams can use chat AI to monitor the conversation. This is a formula that can take an organization’s customer service to a whole new level.

By implement one or more of these models, organizations can reap benefits such as reduced handle time, enhanced experience and improved employee engagement. And in achieving all this, they will save customers from having frustrating conversations with chatbots.


With Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Big data threatening to decrease human role, the corporate world is set on a precarious path. The people in charge need to realize that technology cannot replicate human emotions such as empathy and compassion which are in many ways, the cornerstones of good customer service.

Therefore, technologies like chatbots should be seen as tools to empower customer service agents rather than their potential replacements.

Disclaimer: The writer is associated with NamoBOT, a name generating tool for businesses, apps and websites.

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