Forum: Virtual assistants are not good enough to replace staffed customer service

In this digital age, customers are buying more items online. Most digital transactions go through without hiccups.

However, in the few cases where there is a problem, we expect companies to have a staffed human support channel for their customers. 

I have observed that companies have increasingly replaced their human support with artificial intelligence bots and virtual assistants that promise 24/7 support to their customers. However, their bots are not at all ready for prime time. The bots give irrelevant answers, are repetitive, and are frustrating to use for paying customers. 

I urge the authorities to mandate that companies that take money from customers have to publish on their website a support phone number or support e-mail address that we can contact to reach a human for help.

This week, I tried contacting a company over a digital wallet top-up query on a card deduction. After hours of trying, I could not find a way to e-mail or contact the company’s support. Shortly after that, I had to contact an airline for a baggage-related inquiry for a flight I had booked. I was surprised that the airline has no published phone number or e-mail address to contact it, and keeps directing customers to its virtual bot. In both cases, I eventually gave up.

This is not the kind of customer experience companies should be allowed to get away with.

Rochak Agrawal

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