Bots vs. Customer Service Agents: Who Would Win in a Fight?

green robot with boxing gloves and heavy bag

You’ve heard the news that robots are here to steal our jobs, right? The smarter and faster they get, the more workers they can replace in factories, hospitals, etc. But what about contact centers? Are bots going to eliminate the need for human agents?

The answer, luckily for all of us, is a resounding NO. In fact, bots and agents shouldn’t be pitted against each other at all. Because while some companies could slightly reduce their staff by adding bots, the most successful ones will instead use the opportunity to improve consumer engagement and support across all channels.

Customer Service Bots Are the Right Tool for Self-Service…

Chatbots are ideal for providing the frustration-free, always-on self-service that today’s customers demand.

Simple, Repetitive Tasks

Bots are powered by artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), and can be programmed to do very specific tasks extremely well. In the context of customer service, that means bots can automate repetitive tasks like looking up product details, updating account information, finding shipping dates, and countless other similar requests.

Bots are consistent, accurate, and fast—and unlike humans, they don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

Processing Information

Terabytes of data are no big deal to a bot, which can crawl through knowledgebases, webpages, and documents seemingly instantaneously to find the one right answer to the customer’s question.

Chatbots can even understand natural language and determine the intent of a question. Customers can ask questions just like they would ask a friend, instead of being forced to figure out the magic combination of keywords that will find the information they need.


A customer service bot can connect to CRM software to pull in purchase history, customer information, previous interactions, and more. It then uses that context to deliver a personalized, highly relevant response. It doesn’t just return the one right answer—it returns the one right answer for the individual customer.

But They Can’t Compete with Human Agents

Chatbot customer service has its limits, though: There will always be situations that require the nuance and analytical thinking that only a human can provide, and bots can be programmed to respond to specific triggers by escalating the interaction to a live agent.

How Bots Decide to Escalate

For example, Forrester suggests that bots call in human reinforcements any time a customer:

  • Has asked the same question several times
  • Indicates they weren’t satisfied with a self-service answer
  • Is in a preferred segment, such as loyalty program member or high-value customer
  • Asks a question that is too complicated or sensitive for the bot to handle
  • Uses language that indicates frustration or anger
  • Threatens to complain on a public channel (e.g., uses the word “Twitter”)

Bots Can’t Replace Humans

Although chatbots can do a lot, they can’t replace human agents. Instead smart brands will use them to handle their high volume of simple customer requests, and free up their agents for more complex and sensitive interactions, such as:

  • Assessing and documenting product damage or injuries
  • Defusing an angry customer
  • Providing technical support
  • Ensuring conversions and upselling/cross-selling

Adding chatbots to the mix will improve customer satisfaction by allowing companies to expand to new channels without a significant increase in headcount, provide a higher level of service with a personal touch, and reduce the effort it takes for consumers to get their issues resolved.

Astute Bot is smart enough to know what it knows–and what it doesn’t know. And it’s programmed to call in reinforcements when it’s in over its head. More than that, though, it actually learns and improves its responses based on what your human agents do, constantly adapting to provide a better experience. Learn more and request a personalized demo.