Lyndall Spooner, founder and CEO of Australian strategic research and consulting agency, Fifth Dimension and leading authority on matters of brand trust, proposes artificial intelligence (AI) could replace knowledge and creative experts faster than customer service personnel.
“Since OpenAI launched its widely publicised bot ChatGPT late last year, there has been speculation that the generative tech will enable businesses to do away with people and cut costs by deploying chatbots to run the sales funnel, deliver customer service and generate marketing and communications activities,” Spooner said.
“Conversational AI models disrupted business models more than 30 years ago, allowing companies to scale the delivery of basic customer service. Chatbots can answer simple customer queries 24 x 7 and as they have improved in their capabilities, they are fast becoming a preferred first point of contact.
“Customers who now call a call centre or go into a store or branch are the customers that either don’t know what they should ask a chatbot, need advice or have a complicated issue to be resolved. Karen in the call centre is now the escalation expert and AI is the frontline.
“The latest generation of conversational AI is generative, unlike traditional chatbots it creates original combinations of text as opposed to retrieving a consistent response to a question from a pre-defined programmed response.”
Spooner believes that while AI generative content is remarkable in its human-like qualities, right now, Karen’s job is fairly safe; and has outlined the reasons why.
- Generative Chatbots can make mistakes; in customer service you want to give your customers consistent and accurate answers, not creative ones. It is better to provide no response or to escalate a customer to a real person than to create a response that is potentially problematic for the business,
- Generative Chatbots can’t give advice (especially financial advice) or discuss life goals and options; you don’t want AI telling a customer to do something that will negatively impact their financial position. We know from previous research that consumers place a lot of trust in what technology tells them to do because it generally looks and sounds accurate. Hence businesses need to consider their liabilities in terms of what generative AI could instruct customers to do; and;
- Chatbots can’t help customers who ask incorrect questions or identify what the customer has misunderstood about a product or service. If customers are asking incorrect questions the AI will respond regardless, whereas a customer service agent can interrogate the customer to ensure their information and questions are accurate.
“AI is a fast-evolving sector and there are already many ‘out of the box’ solutions being sold and utilised by businesses which range in quality and sophistication, but no AI model can currently replicate the intelligence and reasoning of Karen,” Spooner added.
While AI disrupted customer service decades ago it is now about to disrupt the more creative knowledge-based internal functions of businesses and industry sectors. And like customer service, generative AI will likely replace the simple creative functions that could benefit from speed of response, including:
- Summarising disparate information into simple a narrative,
- Generating basic code to complete specific tasks; and
- Generation of creative outputs that fit a desired tone and call to action.
These capabilities have not been widely accessible at speed and low cost until now. But like the early chatbots of the 1990s, there will be teething problems.
According to Spooner, there are key issues that businesses need to be aware of when considering AI for more creative tasks such as generating marketing communications.