A while ago, Microsoft had to ‘fire an employee’ because of her inappropriate Twitter behaviour. Аs you probably guess, we’re talking about Tay, a bot that (or who?) , within a single day, started sending offensive racist and sexually-charged messages as a result of her interaction with other Twitter users.

Although this Microsoft experiment was obviously a massive fail, the era of bots is inevitably coming, and one of the proves for such a claim is definitely the big news that Facebook launched its Messenger platform with chatbots, following its chat competitors such as Telegram, Kik and Line.

Primarily, the platform is developed to help businesses deliver automated customer support and e-commerce guidance. So, apart from being able to chat like your buddies, Facebook bots will also be able to send messages including photos, links and call to action buttons, helping you with your online orders.

Tay was by all means one failed attempt showing us that artificial intelligence interacting with humans can have its dark side. Also, there is always that paranoid concern that ‘bots will make humans obsolete’ and ‘take away our jobs from us’. However, even in their early phase of development, chatbot platforms open up some exciting new possibilities in the field of customer service, offering prompt, interactive and personalized customer experience, potentially cutting customer support costs.

Customer Experience Magazine gathered comments from several experts in the industry, offering their view of the new chatbot trend.

Michael Richardson, co-founder of Urban Airship said:

“Chatbots opening up an engagement channel for businesses could be as monumental as app platforms adding push notifications. It’s about brands being able to further reduce the friction of serving more customers with lightweight, service-oriented interactions. Just like apps and mobile wallets, chatbots need to consider the user’s complete context with interactions flowing through the rest of the business. Great customer experiences and better business insights demand it.”

Julien Hervouët, CEO of iAdvize said:

“Today’s news of the introduction and integration of chatbots into Facebook Messenger is a smart move. Given that businesses now face a huge challenge in handling large volumes of customer conversations, bots allow companies to automate a certain amount of low value tasks, accelerating their customer care services significantly. In using these robots in this way, firms will instead be able to focus on customers interactions and conversations which have a high value and actually affect their bottom lines.”

“Most importantly, these bots won’t replace humans, especially now that customer conversations have become so important, especially evidenced by the recent controversy surrounding the abusive AI bot Tay, which had to be turned off within 16 hours. Instead, bots and human agents are complementary when it comes to offering the best customer experience possible.”

“Facebook Messenger gives brands the unique ability to be in the pockets of consumers. It’s becoming the interface for everything, and therefore the perfect interface for brands to interact with online shoppers. With Messenger brands can offer their customers a conversational experience. It’s a new touch point for brands, a new opportunity to interact with customers in their “natural habitat”. The feedback we’re getting from our travel and telecommunication clients who have started using Messenger shows that communicating with customers via this channel is extremely well received by users.”

Dr. Mark K. Smith, CEO, ContactEngine added:

“Although a smart move, Facebook’s latest announcement comes as little surprise. It’s a natural progression for the company, and we are already prepared to start using it to improve communications for our clients.

“We already use AI to drive conversations with tens of millions of customers of our clients using multiple channels like SMS, email, phone calls and even snail mail. But to know that 900 million users of Messenger might be only a click away means yet more channels of conversation are open to us.”

Although we share the excitement about the new technology rising, we’re yet to see how different companies will face the chatbots problems that emerge after their launch and make chatbots platform a truly sustainable tech solution.

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