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Behind the Scenes - Day 4 - Are you real or a robot?




We’ve all been there: You’re surfing on the Internet, clicking through product pages, checking out the current deals with your provider or you’re working and urgently need to contact your provider, but you can’t use the phone. And lo and behold, a window pops up on your screen. “Would you like to chat with us?” you’re asked. “YES, I would!” No waiting on the hotline, no long wait for a reaction by e-mail. You click “chat now” and already you’re connected with one of our web chat agents.


You’re greeted by “Giulia” or “Sandro” and asked how they can help you. “Am I being written to by UPC’s artificial intelligence? Is that a robot that’s writing to me?” you wonder. Ask “Giulia” or “Sandro” that question directly. 


Your fingers glide over the keyboard and you write: “Are you real or a robot?” A few moments later the answer comes: “I am real, but I can act like a robot.” Whether it’s a chatbot or whether a real person is behind it, you like “Giulia” and “Sandro” already at the start of the chat.


Customer service? But right now, if you please!

Picture: Puzzle - Web Chat customer ServicePicture: Puzzle - Web Chat customer Service

The way in which companies communicate with customers has changed over the last years. Before the Internet era there was the fax, or handwritten letters, or phone calls if it was very urgent.


Nowadays there are many new ways in which companies contact their customers or vice versa. The fact that customers are more technically adept and are a part of the digital transformation poses a challenge for every company.


UPC was also aware of this challenge and launched customer service via web chat in the summer of 2017, offering our customers service in real time. This contact option is not only simple and quick to use, but also enjoys broad acceptance among our customers.


So is it a robot or not?

No, it isn’t! Chris heads the Web Chat Team with around 10 people. “Giulia” is also part of the team. Our colleagues cover the languages German, French, Italian and English. “We offer 360° support for all sorts of administrative enquiries”, Chris says. What exactly that entails you can probably imagine.

From notification of an upcoming move in conjunction with a product upgrade, a hardware exchange, or an explanation of the last bill or more complex enquiries – it’s all possible.

I asked Chris what he sees as the main motivation for the web chat service: “We would like to offer our customers personal service and ensure that they take a lastingly positive impression with them. We try to use templates for assistance so that we can carry out our support as effectively as possible. At the same time we need to give each individual web chat enquiry top priority.”


I agree with Chris about this. Because only in this way can we have multiple contacts on the same topic on this channel and avoid creating disappointment on the customer’s side.


Conclusion – human or machine

Picture: Mantra Labs – Insurance Chatbot & the AutomatPicture: Mantra Labs – Insurance Chatbot & the Automat

“As long as my issue gets solved, I don’t care who I chat with”. Are we in agreement on this? I personally think that it’s definitely good to use chatbots. It should be clearly recognisable that one is in contact with a chatbot. They are available immediately and can answer quickly if it is a simple issue. But if the friendly “robot” is at a loss, the switch to “Giulia” or “Sandro” should happen seamlessly.


A few facts & figures

The average processing time per enquiry is 13 minutes.

40% of the web chat customers participate in the satisfaction survey at the conclusion.

About 85% of the surveyed customers rate the contact via web chat at 8 to 10.

80% of the incoming enquiries can be resolved directly through web chat.


What are your experiences with web chat services or even with chatbots? What would make your experience with a chatbot more attractive?

  1. “If they would answer in a human way and could react individually/personally to certain enquiries.”
  2. “If the chatbot used a dash of humour.”
  3. “If the chatbot could resolve my concern as quickly as possible without a fuss and the chat could be ended again.”