Remember Tay? Microsoft’s xenophobic, racist chatbot was a lesson in inefficient AI.
The experiment, held on a dedicated Twitter account, quickly descended into chaos when the chatbot
began sprouting Nazi support and offending Twitter users in various awful ways. It's important to consider the negative consumer reactions to chatbots and whether the negativity against the technology
While it remains to be seen whether chatbots are a permanent customer service fixture or a passing fad, an increasing number of brands are already putting them
to work. Almost every large corporation is jumping on the bot bandwagon, with Facebook, eBay and Microsoft among the many brands experimenting with the technology.
Chatbots are not only being
plugged as a novel way to communicate with customers, but as the next step in the development of human to computer interaction. And — providing you trust the hype — the end of many
customer service jobs.
As with any form of automation, the possibility of handing human responsibilities over to a machine is guaranteed to evoke a backlash.
Robotics and automation have loomed over the future of labor for decades – beginning with the introduction of robotic arms to automotive production lines in the 1960s. Today, developments
in artificial intelligence and chatbots are supposedly threatening the jobs of a new generation of employees.
Are chatbots really competition for the customer-agent experience? We doubt
By its most simple definition, the primary function of a chatbot is to provide the customer with the answer or information they request. Any call center or customer
service professional will understand this is just one small part of providing effective customer service.
The fundamental problem with chatbots is that they are simply an automation software
package — not a revolution in customer service.
Using technology to improve customer service in the digital era is a continuous challenge, but relying solely on
chatbot technology is not the answer. It’s true that the future of customer communication will focus heavily on online chat. However, corporations should be using digital tools to increase
interpersonal communication, not replace it.
Instead of automating chat itself, it is more effective to automate the processes that power communication between customers
and representatives. In using live chat software for customer service, site visitors get the support they need in real time from a friendly, knowledgeable source.
Put simply, relying solely on
chatbots to manage customer interactions removes the key aspect of effective service: the human touch. Digital services like chat software are powerful tools for customer service, but human-to-human
communication must remain at the heart of all customer-facing activity.
Since its disaster with Tay, Microsoft has invested in Zo, a new chatbot that will automatically
engage in conversation — and hopefully not offend the humans during interaction. Chatbots are still in development.
While marketers may be eager to embrace the technology, there is no
denying the risks involved in being an early adopter. Customer service can be automated, but it should not be automatic.