Chatbots and the paradox of meaningful chat

Real-time chat technology has brought us closer to customers. We can have live conversations, at any time, from anywhere in the world.

Simultaneously, however, chat technology can build a barrier that makes us feel further apart. Communicating through the wall of a screen can hinder meaningful conversation.

Herein lies the dilemma: live chat channels bring us closer, but also obscure the human touch behind a faceless web window. And this paradox is further confused by the introduction of chatbots. Chatbots can’t create meaningful conversations. Yet their introduction can make it possible.

Here, we explain chatbots and the paradox of meaningful chat.


What is meaningful chat?

When we talk about meaningful chat, we’re talking about establishing a human connection. A meaningful chat is one marked by care and authenticity.

So, a meaningful chat shows your conversation partner that you’re listening to them with empathy and understanding. It shows attention to details, it’s personalised, and it takes the time to genuinely engage with the customer.

It’s more than conversation, its connection — all conveyed through chat.

Your customers use emotive, one-on-one conversations when they chat online with their friends and family. These conversations create connections that inspire trust.

Translated to the business sphere, this kind of meaningful chat nurtures customer relationships.  In turn, this promotes customer loyalty and brand advocacy.


Navigating non-verbal communication

Used correctly, it’s entirely possible to create meaningful chat conversations through live chat software. The channel’s real-time nature creates the feeling of an engaged conversation.

Meanwhile, a solid platform will come with features that mitigate the problems of non-verbal communication. (I.e. communicating without social cues.)

For example, chat mood detection uses algorithms to analyse the sentiment of chat sessions and help agents keep their service empathetic. Other aspects – agent avatars, video chat, use of emojis and images – help create a more humanised feel to a digital conversation.

The problem is that things can get busy on the frontline of your chat channel. And when they do, the human touch can quickly go out the window.


The state of things

In the relentless pace of a busy service desk, there’s little time to create empathetic connections. Live chat must be live, which leaves limited scope for small talk or veering from the script to chit-chat.

Chat creates an inherent need for speed and efficiency. And this can, at times, stifle the quality of service conversations.

Agents can end up taking too many chats at once. They rush through the conversations they’re having so they can get on with the next one. You can’t leave a customer waiting on a channel promising instant responses, after all.

And this is not to mention the humdrum of most chat conversations. Agents answer the same questions again, and again, and again. They’re typing what they’ve already said to hundreds more people, on a daily basis, several times throughout the day. All while juggling multiple concurrent conversations.

None of these experiences make for genuine connections. Support quality stagnates. And so, busy service desks make meaningful chat elusive.


The meaningful chat paradox

Herein lies the first part of the meaningful chat paradox:

Chat technology can both help and hinder meaningful conversations with customers.

Now, however, chatbots are establishing themselves into the fray, giving another layer to the paradox. Meaningful chat is all about genuine human connection. So, it’s reasonable to think that bots would further hinder meaningful conversations. But, counterintuitively, their introduction can induce the opposite effect.

This is the second half of the meaningful chat paradox:

Chatbots can’t have meaningful conversations. Yet the introduction of a chatbot can enable meaningful chat experiences.


Chatbots and meaningful chat

The paradox starts to make sense when you look deeper at what chatbots can and can’t do.

Chatbots can’t empathise with the customers they chat to. They don’t understand the customer or the problems that they’re dealing with. They aren’t human, and they can’t make a genuine connection.

But this makes them perfect for taking on the chats that don’t invite human connection. They thrive at handling repetitive FAQs and easy to solve problems. And it doesn’t matter how many chats they’re holding, because they don’t need to focus to send their automated answers.

In turn, this liberates your agents from the grunt work that hampers great service. They find themselves freed from the busy front line demands that hinder meaningful chat. Chatbots reduce queues by handling customers with easy problems. Agents don’t have to deal with repetitive questions.

Instead, your team can use chat to connect more sincerely with customers. They can take more time engaging with the customer, empathising with the problem and working with them to solve it.

Chatbots, in short, represent a way to inject energy and engagement into a struggling service desk.


Unlock the power of chat technology

Live chat software is a must-have tool in today’s customer service landscape. It powers the opportunity to connect with your customers and create meaningful chat experiences.

And meaningful chat is made more achievable, paradoxically, with the robotic assistance of chatbots. To see this bot-human symbiosis in action on your own service desk, request your free trial of WhosOn today.


Useful links

The Mehrabian myth, non-verbal communication, and live chat software

Chatbots: what are they good for?

The WhosOn chatbot platform