Tell us, Harald Henn: Conversational Automation: do we really need it?

Conversational Automation: do we really need it?

What is Conversational Automation and why do many service and contact centres need this technology? The term is composed of conversation and automation. So it's about automating dialogues with customers.

At this point, some readers will immediately chime in: "The customer wants his personal contact!" Or: "Personal contact is very important to our customers". Or: "Nobody wants to talk to a bot!" But this simple yes or no no longer works in customer dialogue.

Myth No. 1: The customer wants personal dialogue with a human being!

Not necessarily, not for every business transaction, not always. All studies that have been published on this topic in recent years show a different picture: for simple enquiries and transactions, customers do not want any real dialogue at all - this includes the annoying meter reading enquiry at the energy supplier or the standard question at the online retailer: "Where is my package?". In these and many other cases, customers primarily want quick and precise information. They want the request to be dealt with quickly. If this is possible as a self-service via chatbot or voicebot, they are satisfied. The prerequisite for this is that it must work. And that brings us to the basic requirements for conversational automation.

Myth No. 2: The technology is not mature and is not accepted by customers!

Chatbots, voicebots, virtual assistants - they all have to recognise the customer's request. The basic technologies behind the systems, i.e. speech recognition, intent recognition, voice processing, etc., have made enormous progress in recent years. In addition, companies have learned that systems need to be trained, fed with good, up-to-date data AND integrated into the technology landscape so that necessary and relevant information is used on a customer-specific basis in real time. This corresponds to the employee who, upon request, personally checks the logistics software to see where Mr. John Doe's package is at the moment and informs Mr. John Doe of this. The clearer the company's communication with the chatbot/voicebot is - i.e. which requests are covered by the system and which are not - the greater the acceptance on the customer side.

Myth No. 3: You have the choice not to implement Conversational Automation!

No, you don't! The chronic shortage of skilled staff in customer service leaves you with only one choice: either let your customers hang on hold for more than 30 minutes and then talk to annoyed service agents, or automate. Even before COVID-19, this problem was present, but the pandemic has worsened the situation. "Where have they all gone?" was the headline in SPIEGEL's 27/2022 issue, referring to the skilled workers who are in short supply in all sectors in Germany. So if you want to maintain your customer service satisfactorily, you have no choice. The good news is that there are enough use cases where bots can resolve customer concerns on a case-by-case basis. And if you set up, train and integrate the system professionally, first-time resolution rates and customer satisfaction will increase.

Tipp: The "Value Irritant Matrix" provides a good guidance with regard to investments and possible application scenarios for conversation automation - i.e. chatbots, voicebots, self-services. Every company can work out this guide for itself individually.


Harald Henn - Managing Director- Marketing Resultant GmbH
Harald Henn Managing Director Marketing Resultant GmbH

Harald Henn is the managing director of Marketing Resultant GmbH in Mainz. He sees himself as a navigator for digital customer service, optimises business processes in sales, service and marketing with lean management methods and offers best practice consulting for call centres and CRM projects.

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