Data sourcing

Chatbots : which future rolls toward us ?

On Monday March 24th 2017, I have been part of a roundtable in a French communication school, CESACOM to discuss about the possible solutions to fix customers.

On this occasion, I mentionned the existence of behavioral targeting and profiling solutions, both of which allow to get a better understanding of customers and companies. Solutions which are of interest for Customers Relationship Management, through the use of chatbots.

A chatbot, according to Wikipedia, “is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods“. Though this definition seems simple, it opens a window to our coming world.

Corporate & intelligence analysis : their interest for chatbots unveil who Companies truly are

Through their interest for chatbots, companies reveal part of their survival strategy :

strategy n°1 – “Working hard for the money
The turnover is the key of the company’s survival. Increasing profitability or, at worse, keeping charges and earnings balanced is the company’s main target. This is done through counting and measuring : evaluating the ROI, keeping charges to the lowest level and choosing the strategy through facts and figures. Usually, in such companies, the Finance Department and/or the shareholders rule. On this basis, chatbots are considered as a way to invest in materials cheaper than the wages and social charges paid to men, as well as an opportunity to make salesforce redundant. Not only salesforce, but people in charge of developping websites and mobile aps. And, why not, people in charge of the company’s Digital communication, such as Social Media and Community Managers, some Customer Relationship Management people or some recruitment people as well ?

Strategy n°2 – “Heading for tomorrow
In this case, the company’s survival strategy is different, as innovation is the main concern. Being ahead of the competition for the years to come through knowledge and innovation becomes the main target. As a result, the protection of innovation with patents becomes the company’s main concern. The R&D Department rules. On this basis, chatbots are considered as a way to improve the company’s performance. But as opposed to the money strategy previously developped, men’s skills and know-how are considered as part of the Company’s quality trademark. As such, a collaboration between men and machines is considered as a key to the success. Which is why people will receive training in order for them to be able to use the machine for an enhanced performance, and to concentrate on complex tasks.

Forensics analysis : what’s next ?

Obviously, future is not a crystal ball where anything can be read. However, from the sources available on the Web, a couple of things can be guessed.

To date, the preference of chatbots for customers services satisfies american customers. However, this satisfaction is based on the profiling of people, which allow chatbots to detect the psychology of customers. This can lead to an objectionable use of neuromarketing techniques. On a legal basis, the increasing use of chatbots might end up bringing the attention not only on the protection of customers’ privacy, but on their free will. What if a B2B or B2C customer was suing a Company in Court to have a sale contract set aside on the basis of undue influence ? For this reason, keeping an eye on Court decisions or laws in discussion limiting the field of psychological profiling and/or informing the customers they might be profiled or that they are in communication with either a chatbot or a human being will allow companies using chatbots to foresee any evolution in their customers relationship management.

On a more technical point of view, and should the legal void remains, some technological companies could develop solutions to protect or clean the customers’ online data, and prevent Companies from using them on a behavioral targeting end. And if, to date, international standards do not seem to exist regarding chatbots, their rise will unmistakably generate a need for either a standard or some “best practice“. Keeping a close eye on the ISO website will allow companies to be advised of any discussion regarding this topic and decide if it is of interest for them to be a part of it.

But the future of chatbots is not only legal or technological, but also economic and sociologic. If some Companies dream to get rid of non-machines elements, what about their online reputation, should a chatbot use racist or homophobic comments learnt from online users ? And will businesses want to put their whole user communications in the hands of artificial intelligence ? To date, and considering the inconvenience Microsoft had to face with Tay, this looks unlikely. But we do not know what future will bring us. For this reason, keeping an eye on employment jobs or high schools programs, particularly for jobs involving online sales, online communication and even online assistance, will be a good way to keep an eye on the market’s evolutions.

There is no fate but what we make for ourselves“.

Data sourcing

WIKIPEDIA : definition of a chatbot

Peter BRIGHT “Tay, the neo-Nazi millennial chatbot, gets autopsied March 2016

Sharon GAUDIN “Will company’s trust their communications to A.I. chatbots? April 2016

Artemy MALKOV “Chatbots will fire your sales reps May 2016

Matthew WALL “How happy chatbots could become our new best friends May 2016

Tim DREYER “44% of American Consumers Say They Prefer Chatbots for Customer Service According to New Aspect Software Research May 2016

Amit BENDOV “Don’t fire your sales team: Chatbots are here to assist, not replace” July 2016

Stefan KOJOUHAROV “How chatbots and A.I. will change the future July 2016

Liraz MARGALIT “The psychology of chatbot July 2016

VB Staff “Better believe the bot boom is blowing up big for B2B, B2C businesses July 2016

Matthew KING “Why 95% of Salespeople Will be Replaced by AI Within 20 years and Why Microsoft Will Beat Salesforce to It – Part 3 of 3 of the Changing Face of CRM August 2016

Robert DESISTO “The death of the AI-less salespersons September 2016

Sean MARTIN “VIRTUAL IMMORTALITY: Developer preserves personality in AI software October 2016

David SHING “What Chatbots Are Teaching Us About the Future of Marketing October 2016

Matt SCHLICHT “How Bots Will Completely Kill Websites and Mobile Apps November 2016

Julie DABOUT “Chatbot, a new customer relationship dimension December 2016

Adam STEWARD : “How chatbots are challenging brands’ digital presence, December 2016

Brent BAMBURY : “A.I. expert David Levy says a human will marry a robot by 2050 January 2017

Clint BOULTON “Virtual assistants, chatbots poised for mass adoption in 2017 January 2017

Rick HUCKSTEP “chatbot & the rise of the automated insurance agent February 2017

Gemma SPINKS “Chatbots: The future of Social Selling? February 2017

Tom SINOMITE “Customer Service Chatbots Are About to Become Frighteningly Realistic March 2017

Jean-Luc RAYMOND : “Google annonce la mort du moteur de recherche traditionnel et l’avènement de l’Age de l’assistance March 2017

Mylène CRETE : “Voitures intelligentes: une nouvelle brèche dans la protection de la vie privée ? March 2017

Cameron JENKINSON “3 Things I’ve Learned Working As A Chatbot Consultant April 2017

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