MUMBAI: While chatbots offer new efficiency for customer service, brands can't forget the importance of human interaction, a leading Indian bank executive believes.

According to Deepak Sharma, Chief Digital Officer at India's Kotak Mahindra Bank, brands must not lose sight of the fact that they are dealing with customers who are real people when considering entering the chat bot space.

"What is important is designing the bot with the understanding of human emotions," he said at the IAMAI #DoTheMobile event in Mumbai. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: Chat-bots in India: The end of multiple apps?.)

"At the end of the day, you are dealing with people – we don't behave like machines all the time," Sharma said.

"You have to communicate with the customer on an emotional level, to understand when a customer is unhappy, and when he is being inquisitive. And accordingly, choose your voice modulation."

While bots are being created in India, they are yet to make a mark on a broader scale – and despite the opportunities they provide, they don't provide a complete alternative to good, old-fashioned, face-to-face service.

What chatbots offer marketers, however, is customer service efficiency and the ability to mine data for deeper insights: "The bot is 24/7, it never goes to sleep. The response is immediate, and the problem resolution time can reduce from 48 hours to probably two hours. And you can do data mining by picking up more and more info though these bots," Sharma said.

Annie Matthew, Director of Audience Marketing at Microsoft agreed: "Not only is it easy for customers to talk to a bot, a bot can sense a sentiment, and respond accordingly," she said.

"A customer service exec who was handling 50 customers a day can now probably handle 500 customers – think of the manifold improvement in productivity."

Data sourced from Warc