Mobile World Live spoke to Kreso Zmak, director products at omnichannel communication platform Infobip (pictured), about the role of chatbots in the customer service industry and the possibility for AI-driven experiences to win people’s trust in the future.

What are the benefits of using chatbots instead of real people in the customer service industry?
Chatbots can have many benefits for companies. For example, a single chatbot can handle hundreds of conversations simultaneously, and all at the same quality standard. In addition to that, chatbots are available 24/7, 365 days a year. There is no need for people to cover night shifts because chatbots can handle these more awkward times. In that way, it’s easier for companies to scale and grow internationally.

What are the concerns of entirely replacing humans with AI when providing customer care?
We think chatbots will never entirely replace humans in providing customer care. No matter how strong the AI engine in the backend is, a chatbot will never be able to understand 100 per cent of human conversation. Because of that, a chatbot is a great supplement to modern contact centres, able to handle basic and most common customers’ queries while live agents can focus on more complex problems, which eventually can bring more revenue to the company.

Should certain aspects of a company’s operations be handled only by a chatbot and others only by a person to provide appropriate assistance?
Yes, definitely. Basic customer support issues can be handled exclusively via chatbots. Issues like a refund status in retail or balance enquiry in banking industries can be easily solved by chatbots. Live agents are then freed up to handle more complex issues.

An important thing to mention here is that in the conversational design there should always be an option to transfer the conversation from chatbot to a live agent to maintain a customer’s trust and satisfaction levels if they do not feel comfortable engaging with a bot or if the bot appears not to be performing well. That’s why we offer this integration within our own contact centre solution: conversations.

Why do people still prefer getting their questions or concerns addressed by a real person rather than a chatbot?
We think it’s a matter of not having enough trust in chatbots and AI. There are plenty of different bots in the market and some of them are not properly designed, thereby not able to do things they are supposed to be able to do. That is when bad user experience happens, and it lowers credibility for chatbots in general. That’s why we would like to help our clients with the design of their chatbots via professional bot building services, where our experts are helping clients to build customised solutions.

Where do you see the future of customer assistance – will AI and chatbots win people’s trust?
Definitely. Chatbots will significantly help businesses around the globe in optimising their operational costs and in winning their customers’ trust. It’s important that chatbots are properly built and trained, and that businesses don’t overpromise on the capabilities.

Nowadays, there are often mistakes where companies are trying to create a chatbot that pretends to be a human, and then humans are trying to trick them and intentionally ruin the experience. The key to this problem is an exceptional UX design of the chatbot with the possibility of switching to a live agent who can jump-in and help customers seamlessly, as and when needed.

How much will businesses save from delegating all customer service operations to a bot?
We studied many reports and did some internal calculations on this. We think that chatbots are easily able to save up to 30 per cent of operational costs. Of course, if they are properly trained and backed by data.

This article was originally due to appear in the MWC20 Barcelona Show Daily newspapers as part of our conference speaker coverage. Due to the cancellation of the event we are instead publishing them online.