17/06/2019

I love trying new things. Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had have been a result of an open mind and a positive attitude. Like tuna and banana sandwiches. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

The other reason I try to stay open-minded is the pace at which technology is advancing. If I don’t open myself up to new possibilities and new ideas, my business will get left behind while other dynamic, disruptive businesses take charge.

Plus, you don’t know what you don’t know. If I bury my head in the sand, I learn nothing. Trends will come and go, and I will remain oblivious, right up to the point that some other company is eating my lunch.

However, there comes a point where technology and those who preach it get carried away. Initiatives are announced, bandwagons are jumped on and no-one really knows what they’re signing up for other than the fact that it’s the latest craze.

Think back – you know what I’m referring to. Who remembers the first iteration of 3D televisions? How about Google Glass? Palm Pilots? And does anybody remember Betamax? What about TiVo? These are all examples of technology getting it wrong. By the time each of these had been recognised by consumers, they were supplanted by cheaper solutions or user requirements and competing technology made them obsolete.

Now, here we are again. This time the topic is AI.

I’m not talking Skynet or the voice in Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit – nothing as grand as that. In the current world of business, AI is being used simply to try and process inbound enquiries. This takes the form of ‘bots’, specifically (for this industry anyway) ‘Chatbots’.

You may not realise it, but there is an excellent chance that you have interacted with a Chatbot in the last 12 months. Most people I talk to profess that they would know instantly if a Chatbot was dealing with their enquiry over a human being, but this number is shrinking rapidly. The Turing Test, which assesses whether a machine can accurately mimic human responses, was first ‘passed’ in 2014 and AI has had another 5 years to hone its craft.

In a few short years, experts suggest that the majority of inbound, first line enquiries will be dealt with by machines. They also postulate that most humans will be unable to tell the difference.

Personally, I don’t like it.

If offered the choice, I would expect close to 100% of people would prefer human interaction over machine. So, I would also expect Chatbots to succeed solely in instances where the user doesn’t know they are interacting with a machine. Straightaway, there seems to be something disingenuous about their inception.

Also, I feel it undermines the nature of communications and will ultimately make us worse at this type of interaction. As we know, less than 10% of verbal communication is the actual words we speak. A Chatbot cannot replicate tone, inflection, emphasis, etc. Like an old episode of Dragnet, it’s “just the facts, ma’am”. For me, that’s just not enough.

This is why at GT, we put people power at the head of our customer interactions. When you call in, you speak with a real person and it’s usually the same person that you spoke with last time. We value rapport; it’s the main reason you’ll stay with us – we know you and we understand your business. Could a machine be as effective? Time will tell, but today is not that day.

So, in a world where more and more businesses are moving away from the personal touch, come to GT for that genuine, human experience.

GT – Genuine Telecoms.