Artificial Intelligence is here, and it is here to stay for good. As machine-learning technology advances, it is paving the way for better self-learning machines that are showing the promise of being able to do almost everything that we humans can.
The benefits are indeed countless and more businesses than ever are getting excited about taking AI from behind the scenes to a more customer-facing role. This could be as simple as offering customer support, to helping close sales or even creating content for a blog.
But as is the case with everything new and exciting, this is unchartered territory and it comes with its posse of risks. While it might not be as dangerous or life-threatening as The Terminator, it could still create mischief and hurt your business. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of having chatbots interact with your customers.
An employee that’s always working, but that means constant supervision
What makes machines better than humans is their indefatigable ability to work. Given a chance, with uninterrupted electricity, they could work all day long, all days of the year, year after year. No lunch break, no sick leave, no overtime, and no home to go to.
This is extremely beneficial when it comes to interacting with customers. An AI chatbot can take care of customer calls after hours or from anywhere across the globe. Or if all your customer representatives are busy (and haven’t we all been on the other side of the unending recording), a chatbot can step in and handle more routine calls or trivial cases.
However, AI cannot be 100% perfect all the time. You cannot afford to let your AI chatbot run free to handle the night shift all on its own. Perhaps your chatbot could face an unanticipated problem, or it could interact with a troll, or there could be a language issue. While this doesn’t mean someone needs to be managing it every moment, you do need to have in place a system that contacts specific employees when the AI is stumped. If you don’t maintain a supervisor in place, you could face unhappy customers or worse, loss of business.
AI finds the most efficient solution and repeats it perfectly, but it leaves no room for improvising
The beauty of AI is that it finds patterns; could be through trial and error, or through the analysis of large volumes of data. Once it finds the patterns, it knows how to replicate them perfectly, over and over again, without messing up ever. In customer service it could be about finding a solution to their problems; in sales it might mean convincing them to agree to a follow-up call or even buying a product.
However, AI will not be able to improvise, like a human can, and respond to that one situation that is outside of the established pattern. While a human will quickly improvise and come up with a response that deviates from the pre-written script, AI will struggle in this scenario.
Data collection happens easily, but it can make you a target for hackers
An AI chatbot is the prefect repository of information on a customer. As it talks to a customer, it collects and analyses data, and learns more about the individual and uses that information to improve the experience.
What is the kind of data that can be collected? It isn’t just restricted to likes and dislikes, or the types of offers a customer responds to. The data collected can include some valuable and personal information, such as addresses, bank details, payment information, full names, and other information that can be used for stealing an identity.
This makes the chatbot and your database a target for hackers. To counter that, a business needs to invest in high-level security which means virus protection, firewalls, long and complex passwords, and educating employees on security best practices.
AI can develop a personality through customer interactions, but that leaves you open for manipulation
Earlier AI chatbots were simply question-and-response systems that sounded robotic. But as technology improved, AI chatbots have only grown better. Today customers often don’t realise that they are talking to a chatbot. With the right interactions, it is quite possible to build a distinct personality that meets the needs of the brand better. This could mean including specific words, starting conversations in a distinct way, and even using memes and emojis.
The downside to this is that if people figure out, they are talking to an AI chatbot, they could try and manipulate it. We all know what happened to Microsoft’s AI chatbot Tay on twitter. In less than a day, trolls taught it to issue sexist, racist and Nazi propaganda tweets, while also insulting anyone that tried engaging with it.
In all likelihood, this will happen to your chatbot as well. To avoid this, you must have qualified people go through your AI’s behaviour meticulously to remove traces of any negative habits it might have picked up. You must also have specific blockers against learning negative habits, such as abusing, calling people bad names, inappropriate content, etc.
The possibilities with AI are only as limited as our imagination. Or that of the abilities of AI itself. This powerful technology, although a little creepy, can perform tasks in minutes that would take a human, weeks to complete. It can overcome prejudices and learn from its mistakes quickly. Is it any wonder that more businesses are jumping on to the AI bandwagon?