Top 12 CX Chatbot Mistakes in the Contact Centre

Top 12 CX Chatbot mistakes happening now in your Contact Centre – Rick Kirkham, Customer Touch Point

If you have implemented a chatbot solution in your business that hasn’t worked as intended, it’s probably for one of these reasons. Here are the most common chatbot mistakes ranked in reverse order.

Chatbots have huge potential to improve the speed and quality of customer experience (CX) while reducing contact centre costs. As a result, they have become popular with contact centre operations across multiple industries. Yet when chatbots are poorly implemented, they can end up increasing customer effort and contact costs, reducing productivity and profitability – the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do.

In a 2019 Forrester survey, for example, 89% of customer service decision-makers in Canada, the UK, and the US believed that chatbots and virtual agents were useful technologies for personalizing customer interactions. A 2016 survey from Oracle predicted that 80% of businesses would be using chatbots by 2020. The global chatbot market was estimated to be worth $396.2 million in 2019 and is projected to reach $1.95 billion by 2027.

Yet in 2019 Gartner reported that 40% of chatbot/virtual assistant applications launched in 2018 would have been abandoned by 2020.

Certainly, in our experience at Customer Touch Point, many contact centres have run into significant issues with chatbots. These issues range from chatbots not being used by customers, to an increase in inbound phone calls, to complaints about chatbots being ineffective.

What’s going on? Why has the promised chatbot revolution proved so difficult for many organisations to achieve? In this blog, we explore the 12 most common chatbot mistakes that prevent the technology from working as intended, ranked in reverse order – with number one being the most damaging mistake.

Chatbot mistake #12: Using chatbots when a live agent would be more appropriate

A chatbot is a piece of software that can talk to users and perform relevant tasks. In most cases, they are programmed to follow simple rules (if the customer says this, you do that). More advanced chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence and use machine learning to detect more complex conversational cadences.

“Bots should know when to ask for help from a human agent when they’ve received a request that extends beyond their capability to respond satisfactorily.”

Despite being designed for chat, chatbots work best when used in specific ways. They’re great for routine tasks and commonly asked questions. That’s where they’re capable and convenient, and that’s where they can save you time and resource. The nuances of a broad customer conversation are best left to human agents, who can talk freely cross-topic and easily pick up on shades of tone, mood, and humour.

Chatbot mistake #11: Not communicating as your audience would

Any successful chatbot must be designed with the target audience in mind and be able to chat in the same way as the people it’s communicating with. If you are a lifestyle or leisure brand, you should make the messaging conversational and less formal. If you are a financial services firm, you’ll want to be clear and helpful without coming across as cold and uncaring. It’s probably worth testing your messaging with existing customers both before and after launching your bot, so you can continue to improve the messaging in line with customer feedback.

Chatbot mistake #10: Lack of transparency

Transparency is an important factor for consumers in a branded service. It is better not to deceive visitors by passing off a chatbot as a real consultant.

According to a study at the Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative (FOMI) at Said Business School, “humanised chatbots raise unrealistic expectations of how helpful they will be. This can increase the frustration in customers who are angry.”

Be clear that your chatbot is a bot. This will help manage customers’ expectations, as well as avoiding them feeling that you’re trying to mislead them.

Chatbot mistake #9: Not enough testing before launch

You need to make sure your product is actually ready for consumers before you launch. Your chatbot needs to be adequately tested in a variety of circumstances, to see what impact it is likely to have on KPIs such as bounce rates or conversion rates. The types of tests you should look at performing include:

– General testing of basic functions – for example, how the chatbot greets your customer

– Domain-specific testing – for example, ensuring the chatbot is able to answer some of your most common customer enquiries and complaints

– Limit testing – to see how the chatbot reacts to being fed irrelevant information. Is it able to carry on the conversation or refer to a live agent? Or does it get stuck in a loop?

The point of your testing should be to establish whether the bot can:

– Understand user intent

– Keep the conversation flowing

– Handle errors (see mistake #2 for more on this)

Chatbot mistake #8: Not identifying and resolving choke points

Any customer contact technology or customer journey can have choke points, where the journey breaks down, becomes confusing for the customer, or where the technology simply hasn’t anticipated something that customers want or need at that point in their journey.

Managing chatbots effectively must include a process for regularly identifying and resolving choke points.

Chatbot mistake #7: Information overload

Poorly designed chatbots spam chat, giving no time for the person to respond. If the chatbot bores customers with blocks of text, they are likely to either switch to a live operator or leave the site.

“When developing your chatbot, you should be sure to include visual elements in addition to the text where they help ease communication. Emojis and GIFs are examples of where visuals can help reinforce or clarify your messaging in ways that customers will appreciate.”

If your service is more serious and emojis and GIFs would be a bad fit, then you can still avoid information overload by designing the conversation to follow etiquette rules with small blocks of text and giving the user time to respond before continuing. You could also consider using buttons to provide multiple choice answers that help the conversation to flow.

Chatbot mistake #6: Lack of continuous improvement to the chatbot journey

The most successful chatbots are regularly maintained and updated. You must be prepared to tweak your chatbot over time in line with user feedback and technology improvements. In other words, it’s not a case of introducing a chatbot once and then you’re done. You must view your chatbot as a continuous work in progress in need of constant review and improvement.

Chatbot mistake #5: Focusing on technology rather than user experience

When developing a bot, many organisations spend a lot of time on the technology, but neglect to pay as much attention to the design. Some chatbots increase the number of steps or time to complete an action by making the user experience difficult. This is where user testing is so important before launch (see mistake #9, above), as well as having a process of continuous improvement to the chatbot journey.

Chatbot mistake #4: Not having a clear route to a live agent

Your chatbot shouldn’t be the endgame of customer service. It’s just a tool that can help. Make sure that if a user wants to speak to a live agent, the option is readily available and clear. Don’t make your customers work to find how to speak to a live agent, or you’ll risk losing the customer altogether.

Ideally, your chatbot’s rules will lead to it contacting a live agent when needed, or else to give the customer clear and simple instructions on how to do it themselves.

Chatbot mistake #3: Lack of effective error handling

Errors are common in any technology during or after deployment. Without a process in place to handle errors, you risk alienating customers, who may leave your website and never come back. Or, if they need your service, they are likely to complain and leave negative reviews.

There will inevitably be cases where the bot does not understand a customer’s input. Bots’ responses need to be tested so it communicates its lack of understanding clearly and helps the user proceed, for example by contacting or referring the user to a live agent.

Chatbot mistake #2: Customers have to work too hard (customer effort)

Customer effort refers to how much work a customer has to put into an interaction with a business. In customer service, it’s a measure of how much effort a customer had to exert when getting a question answered or an issue resolved. When chatbots are poorly designed, not tested, or are unable to refer customers to live agents when needed, all of these issues increase the effort needed for customers to resolve their issues, which goes against the very reason why you’ve implemented a chatbot in the first place.

Chatbot mistake #1: Not using chatbots strategically

And here’s the biggest mistake of them all which we see time and time again. There must be a strategic reason for introducing the new technology to your business. Adopting technology for the sake of it can be costly and counter-productive. Rather, any new technology has to deliver real value for your business, whether that’s by improving the customer experience, answering queries more quickly, or providing a more personalised experience on a large scale.

“If the strategy isn’t right, then everything you’re trying to achieve with your chatbot is likely to fail, and you end up with the exact opposite of your intention: rising contact costs, higher call volumes, reduced productivity, frustrated and angry customers, and a reduced operational ROI.”

You should review the entire customer journey to understand exactly where to include communication via messengers, and how it will help achieve your desired KPIs. Before you create a chatbot, be sure to think about its functionality and clearly define its purpose, otherwise you risk wasting time and resources on a tool that will not work the way you want it to.

What to do if your chatbot isn’t working

Hopefully this article has helped you to diagnose the issue with your chatbot. Or, if you’re considering implementing one, this had helped you to see which common mistakes to avoid.

If you’re thinking about implementing a chat bot as part of your CX strategy, get in touch for support and advice.



Rick Kirkham, Founder and Managing Director, Customer Touch Point

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Customer Touch Point specialises in long-term and instant impact customer experience solutions for organisations worldwide, providing the tools and support they need to deliver effortless customer experiences.

Our solutions include customer feedback software, customer journey mapping, telephony & IVR and multi-channel technology tools such as live chat, social media monitoring, visual IVR, speech analytics and dynamic FAQs.

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