Chatbot Customer Service Guide

Image of a chatbot, aka virtual assistant, virtual agent
Customer service chatbots, also called virtual assistants, virtual agents, virtual customer assistants, concierge, avatars, and so on, work 24×7, don’t take time off, and done right, can help contain or reduce customer service costs, while creating compelling customer experiences.

They can be fronted by avatars and personal digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa or can be deployed with a more traditional frontend.

Is chatbot customer service effective?

In an independent survey of 3000 consumers by Chatbots.org and eGain across the US and the UK

  • 47% found chatbots to be “very effective” and “effective”
  • 43% found chatbots to be “somewhat effective”

So, they are effective, even if not as much as we would want them to be.  But we know why chatbots fail.

Not all consumers are the same

eGain chatbot, eVa, doing some stretches

US consumers are more demanding than UK customers

In the Chatbots.org-eGain survey, US consumers were harsher in their assessment of chatbots with 14% rating them as not effective versus only 5% in the case of UK consumers.

  • This is perhaps an indication that US consumers are challenging chatbots with more complex questions than UK consumers.

Download survey

Demographics matter

eGain chatbot, Zoe, is best suited for retail and fashion sites

The young like to use chatbots for customer service

Younger consumers thought that chatbots were more effective than older consumers with 22% of Generation Z and 15% of millennials rating them as “very effective.” Only 12% of boomers and the silent generation gave it the same rating.

  • This is likely due to the positive attitude that digitally savvy Gen Z and millennial consumers have towards chatbots. The perception of Gen X on the “very effective” rating was like that of boomers and the silent generation.

Education matters

Robin was eGain's very first customer service chatbot. Here she is expressing sadness.

Educated customers expect better service from chatbots

Educated consumers rated chatbots only half effective as less educated consumers—13% of respondents with undergraduate or graduate degrees rated chatbots “not effective” versus 7% of those with high school diplomas or incomplete high school education.

  • This could be because educated consumers challenge chatbots to resolve more complex service problems.

What are the biggest pain points in using chatbots for customer service?

Why chatbots fail in customer service: experience silo, brittle tech, disconnected from enterprise assets


When they transfer me to a human agent, that agent asks me to repeat all the information I had given to the virtual assistant already

59% of the surveyed find having to repeat information and context to a human agent in the event of escalation from chatbots as the biggest hassle. Not surprisingly, this is a result of chatbot deployments that are completely disconnected from agent-assisted touchpoints like email or chat or phone.


The chat bots get stuck and don’t know what to do next

32% complained about chatbots running out of steam. This is a common problem that arises from a lack of focus on knowledge management to empower chatbots.

The Solution: Chatbots unified with other touchpoints through a customer engagement hub

Powered by AI technologies such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and reasoning as well as knowledge, eGain’s virtual assistant software, eGain Virtual Assistant™ is also unified with human-assisted channels such as agent chat, and proven at scale.

Know the software: eGain Virtual Assistant™

Offer | Get your own chatbot

To give you quick business value, we have launched a one-of-its-kind, free chatbot pilot offer. Give it a try.

eGain Innovation in 30 Days™

Success story: A huge government tax agency starring a high-profile eGain chatbot

(Fun fact: Use of digital services has reduced the organization’s paper consumption by 21%. As their print costs used to run to €96 million, this alone is a tremendous saving.)