Bad Bot vs Good Customer Service

Bad Bot ID 118234986 © Davinci | Dreamstime.com

Bad Bot vs Good Customer Service

The chatbot. These digital interface tools have become a familiar, sometimes funny, sometimes maddening part of online customer service. Even with the growth of AI there are many bad bots, but they do not have to crush good customer service. 

Bad Bots

Chatbots should take simple, repetitive customer service inquiries off the plates of agents, not to drive customers crazy with a series of pointless, circular questions leading nowhere.

Bad Bot: Hi, how can I help you?
Customer: I want to book a reservation
Bad Bot: Sorry. I don’t understand that. 
Customer: Reservations
Bad Bot: Please try our help FAQ. If you have any further questions, please contact us again.
Customer: I already tried the FAQ and that’s what brought me here.
Bad Bot: Sorry. I don’t understand that. 
Customer: WTF?
Bad Bot: Glad to help!

If a chatbot is unable to answer a customer question, whether due to technical error or the question being outside of the bot’s programming, customers need another option. Good customer service makes it easy for customers to escalate to an agent or offers another alternative like email or a callback.

Notice: You Are Not Speaking with a Human

When using bots, be transparent about it. Don’t fool your customers. They should know if they are talking to a bot or a person. Also, recognize bot limitations.

Those trying to evolve the quality of chat in bots, as with the competition “Second Conversational Intelligence Challenge,” have run into problems.  Apparently even the highest scoring bots were so bad that the testers rebelled:

“Perhaps indicative of how loathsome chatbots are, humans who volunteered to test the things for free, by conversing on Facebook’s Messenger app, mostly ended up tuning out the bots or engaging in “senseless” and even “offensive” conversations, the researchers write. Those free evaluations “in the wild” were such a mess they had to be completely eliminated from the evaluation of the bots.”
“Why Chatbots Still Leave Us Cold” by  Tiernan Ray 

Use Chatbots Wisely

It is important for both customers and businesses to manage their expectations of chatbots and the AI that fuels them. In 2018, Andrew Moore, Head of Google Cloud AI, had this to say about AI: 

“It is really good at doing certain things which our brains can’t handle, but it’s not something we could press to do general-purpose reasoning involving things like analogies or creative thinking or jumping outside the box.”

It is advantageous to use the best of AI at its current level of development. You can still have a customer service bot that uses friendly, welcoming language without trying too hard to make it conversational. A great example of this overkill is detailed over at mycustomer.com with the now defunct weather bot, Poncho:

Funny, yes, but chatbot conversation that is on par with an awkward exchange at a boring party doesn’t inspire confidence or loyalty. 

Good customer service is transparent and provides answers your customers seek. Great customer service wows and delights too, like NatGeo’s Genius Einstein bot and 1-800-FLOWERS’s GWYN.

Chat Bot Evolution

Bots are here to stay with predictions the chatbot industry will hit $1.25 billion in 2025 per Grand View Research 2017 report

There is a bot for almost everything now. Check out There is a Bot for That for bots that can help you write a book, find a job and even swear at you. #$&!

As funny as some bot fails are, a bad bot poses a threat to your company’s reputation when it fails. Do your due diligence when designing and implementing chatbots. Use bots to do what they do best and leave the complex interactions to your best human workers.

Where bots excel and support your customer service efforts is in their ability to reduce the repetitive drain on your skilled agents and speed resolution for your customers. Where bots fail is in not fully answering customer questions. It is best when bots stick to the simple interactions and then escalate to human agents when the questions are beyond the bot’s scope.

This doesn’t mean that AI is no longer a part of the solution.  AI assists the human workers in resolution of customer issues. CSAT.AI has a quality assurance feature to ensure the customer query is answered, and gives agents the ability to self-correct during the engagement. This supports success for both sides. 


Humans and AI working together is the winning combination for good customer service.