Bots seem to be everywhere these days.

From Facebook Messenger bots that answer basic customer service questions to much more advanced models like WoeBot, an armchair psychology bot, it’s impossible to not notice how pervasive bots have become. Just because they’re everywhere, though, doesn’t mean that AI bots are ideal for an answering service setting.

When it’s humans versus AI, sometimes you can’t beat the real deal.

Human Answering Services For the Win

Bots are incredibly convenient and, let’s face it, they’re a lot cheaper than a human over the long run. But, and this is a big but, current technology still limits their effectiveness. They’re not living, thinking beings, they can only draw from the information they’ve been programmed with, and that can be pretty limiting in an answering service setting.

After all, what happens when your caller needs something unusual or unusually specific? The bot has no idea what’s going on and has to wing it. But they don’t do that, so instead, they’ll return an error or ask the caller to repeat themselves.

Here are just a few of the characteristics of humans that bots are struggling to match:

  • Authenticity. Bots can’t genuinely empathize with the situation of a caller. While some people don’t need a listening ear, others like to know that they’re being heard. An AI will certainly hear, but they lack emotional depth, so the resulting response can feel empty and even dismissive. This is still a bot, not a person, but it can be hard to shake that expectation from a customer service representative.
  • Efficiency. In an ideal world, bots are incredibly efficient. However, when it comes to call center work, bots may struggle significantly. Little things can trip them up and when you’ve got the kind of call volume that makes you think you might get some AI bots, you’re in for a lot of those little things. Customers with strong accents or disabilities that make it difficult to speak normally may end up going in circles with the bot. That’s not efficiency, that’s terrible for a decent percent of your callers.
  • Creativity. Humans (and other lifeforms) possess a special ability not yet available in AI: creativity. When you have a problem that needs a solution that isn’t in the database, the AI chatbot breaks down. It has no idea where to go with your issue.

    A human, on the other hand, starts to think around the problem until they either have a solution or identifies someone else who does. If you just want the AI bot to dish out information like your store hours, they’re plenty competent, but when it comes time to figure out how to route a tricky call or answer a complex question, humans win hands down.

Customer service bots have a place in the customer experience ecosystem, but they’re really better as backup players to the human A-team. Humans still beat the machines when it comes to answering services because of the subtle things that bots are simply not capable (yet) of doing. Empathy and out-of-the box thinking are major issues that will have to be overcome long before bots reign supreme.