Are Chatbots Helping or Hurting Your Customer Service and Brand?

Remember Clippy? That annoying paperclip that interrupted every step of your Microsoft Word document? The Microsoft Office assistant drew extensive criticism for being intrusive — stopping users in their tracks with excessive questions on very primitive tasks. The problem was that Clippy was optimized for first use. That being said, after a person opened a Word document for the hundredth time and typed "dear," the infamous question appeared: Are you writing a letter? Clippy has gone down in history as a major Microsoft flop.

With significant technological advances such as machine learning and new ways of application, chatbots now have the power to improve customer service while saving time and labor for businesses. However, many companies do not implement chatbots properly. In fact, a chatbot that is clunky and not user-friendly can frustrate customers and deter them away from your business.


However, on the other hand, chatbots can be a great tool to increase customer satisfaction while cutting costs. Chatbots should not be avoided, and when executed correctly, they can even provide outstanding customer service — shining a positive light on your business and brand. You’ll find that if you understand where most chatbots go wrong, you can overcome these challenges to use them to maintain a positive public image for your business.

Make it Personal, But Not Too Personal

Some people like to speak with a representative, either on the phone or face-to-face. In other cases, people would prefer not to talk directly to a person. For both types of people, personality is key in providing excellent customer service, although, you will need to define your target audience to see their level of comfort when interacting with chatbots. However, providing a personalized experience from your chatbot can be the difference between turning away customers or getting them to interact further with your business.

Machine learning can get creepy with how much information they gain on an individual. The problem with some chatbot interactions is that businesses haven't found a balance between respecting privacy and giving personalized information. Defining your target audience and knowing your customers can help you find this balance.


Understanding the demographics of your audience can also allow you to provide personalized information so that they don't have to input basic information into your chatbot every time — which can be frustrating for some customers. At the same time, a defined target audience can let you know if this personalized information will make them feel comfortable or not. After all, major elements of customer service are comfort and familiarity. Customers would like to feel comfortable that you don’t know too much information about them, but want an individualized personal experience to let them know that you respect them enough to know them.

Your Chatbot Needs a Precise Goal

Chatbots can get annoying and frustrating if they have no proper strategy or an exit plan for your customers, meaning bots and machine learning should be lightning fast in providing accurate answers to your customers. What adds to customer frustration is when a chatbot does not understand a user's request and keeps asking questions trying to get to an answer. This is because when a bot does not know the response to an inquiry, it asks various other questions to try to get the user to rephrase the inquiry in a way that the bot knows how to answer. To remedy this, your chatbot needs to have an extensive database to answer customer questions as quick as possible.

Let's revisit Clippy. Although a primitive assistant, Clippy was essentially for first-time users. Its only goal was to help with basic, foundational queries. You may have found the information useful while typing a letter for the first time, but after the 10th or 20th time, you did not need Clippy's help anymore.


Clippy became annoying when he kept asking if you needed help writing a letter when you were already an expert at it. With no goal further than providing beginner help, Clippy kept asking questions that were not pertinent to you anymore. Although chatbots have evolved, they still can ask questions that are not pertinent to a user — causing frustration. Your chatbot needs to provide the fastest way from point A to point B without trapping your user in a circular pattern of questions, trying to understand what your user is asking.

Measure Your Chatbot’s Performance

To understand fully what your audience thinks of your chatbot — and how you can make it better — measure its effectiveness. Many times the only way to find the balance between privacy and personality, as well as gauge frustrations, is to measure your chatbot’s performance. Here, you can save a lot of time and money by knowing where to adjust information, questions, and goals for your chatbot. Understanding this information is vital in knowing why your visitors come to your website, and how your chatbot can better meet their needs.

In many cases, what you measure will be correlated to your visitor and chatbot goals. For example, if your goal is to increase user engagement, consider tracking Chatbot Conversion Length, and Interaction Rate to see how long your customers are conversing with your chatbot and how many messages they exchange back and forth. There are many metrics you can measure to gauge where your chatbot is having success, and where it is going wrong. Understanding this information is key to improving customer relations and brand satisfaction.

Chatbots are often hit or miss, it is just a matter of avoiding common pitfalls to make your chatbot, and customer service a hit. However, many businesses are finding chatbots to be a success, such as Facebook Messenger, and you can too. So, save your company time and money while boosting customer and brand satisfaction.