Conversational AI and the call centre

An article in IT Pro Portal has caught our attention – it talks about how the idea of conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is catching on and will have a marked impact on the contact centre as it is currently conceived.

It’s an intriguing thought and as the article says, it should in theory free a lot of employees up for more stimulating tasks than the transactional work (this seems to be becoming a theme this week, with territories selling on cost and soforth).

There are pitfalls. Freeing up employees for more stimulating work can end up meaning “freeing up employees for redundancy and just using this technology to offer the same service with lower costs”. This might appear pretty tempting at first but if competitors are moving ahead with sharper service and your own business is stuck where it was, it’s going to lose its edge.

The other is that although nobody is saying AI won’t get there eventually, there are few people unwise enough to say it’s fully-formed just yet. It’s not so long since Microsoft’s experimental chatbot, Tay, was trained by some ill-intentioned users to become savagely racist very quickly indeed.

Nobody is saying that’s going to happen again. Lessons have been learned. But you have to ask: is everybody really positive that all the glitches have been eliminated – positive enough to allow their business to depend on a robotic chatbot immediately?

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