I recently had the opportunity to visit the wonderful country of Vietnam, which now has a population of 94 million people (up from 39 million 50 years ago.) Life and labour are cheap. For instance, signalling on the railway linking Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) with Ha Noi consists a man with a flag (well actually quite a lot of them).
So why would we want to use a machine and automate with such a plentiful supply of resources? Simple really: cheaper, faster and better. For safety critical areas such as railways, you could add predictable safety. From humble pocket calculator to sophisticated manufacturing equipment, if the capital is available the machine always comes out on top. Lack the capital – you can always lease or rent: just think about your mobile phone contract.
So the case for automation seems compelling, which is why I am a little perplexed with one persistent behaviour pattern – the introduction of "live chat" services on websites.
When it comes to buying, digital methods lead – today, more inbound customer contacts start by web than all other means combined.
Conversational commerce is on the rise in B2C. Messaging apps overtook social networks for users in 2015 – so if you want to be where the customers are, then you really need to be connected into these conversational platforms.
Neither of these trends point to using live chat services. They both point to on demand, always available software as the solution: a machine to take the strain.
One explanation could be lack of confidence in the available product catalogue. This would be reasonable if your experience was limited to basic chat bots. However not just the technologies, but also the thinking around how to make the machine effective: the delivery of engaging, personal and responsive dialogue evolves at a pace.
Keep your technology search focussed on the things that matter with questions such as:
- Does this complement my existing systems, will it work in conjunction to leverage the investments I have already made?
- Can this system be trained at modest cost and in in reasonable time to handle the conversations, without requiring terabytes of data or a whole slew of training examples?
- Do the main features focus on what I need such as increasing sales and making sure my customers buy the right products, and return again and again?
Once you do this, the conclusion will once again be that its time to replace the people with machines. But ensure you select a software partner that is up to the task such as AMO.ai. One that understands the power of conversational dialogue is more than just self service or search and filter.