by Glenn Miller
Creating a Personalised User Experience in Self Service Channels
Clariden Global (Singapore based international conference and exhibition production company) recently hosted me to speak at their International call centre conference.
My Bot, Chatbot and AI articles have been attracting quite a crowd and making some wonderful progress lately. As a result, I decided to incorporate their content and extend one of my usual Digital Marketing Strategy and Customer Experience stage presentations to include Customer Self Service and related Channels, featuring some of the hot topics I have been writing about.
The presentation took place a couple weeks ago and it went phenomenally well. As always, I was humbled to share the stage with an amazing line-up of speakers, for example: Bianca Bowron-Cuthill (Head of Customer Care & Service, Australia at Intuit), Claire Hayes (Digital Operations & Transformation, Telstra and responsible for implementing their recent country-wide re-brand), Mitchell Mackey (Marketing Director of Ansell, Australia), Rohit Mandanna (Customer Centric Program Leader Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Government) to mention a few.
Many audience participants approached me after my presentation requesting a copy of the presentation and encouraging me to share my research and findings with my followers.
In the good spirit, I decided to publish the presentation (produced on Prezi and featured below).
I encourage sharing and I welcome feedback and comments, in kind.
This 'Embracing and Humanising Digital Self Service Channels' presentation features thought leadership in Customer Experience and Customer Self Service Channels and demonstrates why all companies should consider the impacts of AI, Bots and Chatbots on their Customers' Experience, their Businesses (Customer) Strategy, Customer Care policies, Customer Experience and digital self service channels in 2017 and beyond.
The presentation includes reference and explanation into Autonomous Transport, Driverless Vehicles, Passenger Flying Taxi Drones, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) powerhouses for example; Microsoft LUIS, IBM's Watson and more recently, Salesforce's Einstein.
Like a bad situational joke, sometimes you need to be there, to fully experience the context behind the joke and to enjoy the situational context that leads to the laughter, that should come with it. If you feel like the presentation lacks context please get in touch with me, I’d be happy to complete the picture for you.
Thanks for following, article written and presentation produced uniquely and originally by Glenn Miller (Director, Customer Strategy & Experience, Lupo Digital).
Chatbot vs. AI Bot - which is here to stay, which to invest in and why?
To Chat with a Bot or not to Chat with a Bot, is that the question?
Back in August I delivered an exceptionally simple and laymen overview of Bots, ChatBots and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Missed it? catch up here.
At the time I wrote the article, my inner gut feeling was that while I technically and fundamentally grasp the landscape, components, ecosystem and all the connected parts that make up the awesome world of Bots, ChatBots, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) (and aside from being my latest hobby and fixation), the rest of the lay population is nowhere near being on the same page. However, and as sad as that may be, we are all interacting with Bots daily, even if we are completely oblivious to it.
Something in that article struck the right chord, connected, hit the nail on the head (so to speak) and bridging the gap for my readers, between having no information whatsoever (about this Bot stuff) the one day, yet a clear picture of where it’s at the next.
I’m delighted to report that the article was a huge success and has resonated through an interesting crowd, bringing me a pleasurable following, many a conversation and has demonstration that I am on the right road to entrenching myself in the space…I guess I am starting to think of myself as an evangelist for the technology which I have never thought of before. I am super excited because the positive adoption of my article and the human feedback I have received has endorsed that this technology is just at the beginning and I plan to bring my followers along for the ride, from ground level up and right through this next digital revolution.
So here’s the next instalment.
When I changed my email address earlier this year, I logged into my mobile phone providers web portal and updated the email address and auto email notification settings. The old email address was removed from the system (at least that is what I thought). Six months later I have never received any email notifications, no bills (lucky those are on a direct debit), no correspondence, nothing. Then a week ago, my wife exceeded her 12GB data limit (don’t ask me how) and received an SMS alert that we are to be charged additional fees for that. I then realised we had not received any notifications or warnings by email so I logged back into the portal but, alas, the old email was nowhere to be seen. This prompted me to connect with my mobile service provider.
Who wants to lookup a contact #, then dial, then push 1, push 3, push 5 then explain …. so BANG!, I fire up WebChat (my channel of choice) because this was such a simple thing to fix, right?…maybe not.
I was immediately greeted (friendly) by “Katorina” and asked how I could be served…I speedily typed one sentence explaining the problem, they asked for my credentials to securely identify me which I provided.
Whilst waiting, staring at “dot dot dot”(as “Karotina” typed), I explained I was in a big rush and needed this resolved urgently as it was such a simple fix..then a PAUSE and the reply by Katorina: “Cool….”. I wait, and wait, but nothing….another response comes on screen saying: “Thanks for your patients while I investigate your request”. I reply again that I am in a rush and not quite sure how much there is to investigate, they reply: “Cool…”. I type: “This is getting frustrating how long should I expect this may take?” and again “Cool…”. I’m now feeling that botty feeling coming in (which secretly makes me quite excited because immediately I see the opportunity of engaging with this Bot but don’t want the Bot to know that of course) so I type: “Why do you keep saying Cool…, I’d like a response please, have you resolved the issue” at which point a generic response appears: “Please accept my apologies as I will need to transfer you to another customer service agent…” and with that “Martin” (and now clearly a human) responds: “G’day, how may I help you…” well that only lead me to unleash genuine frustration. I now have to re-explain the whole story and of course, to add fuel to the fire, I now throw in that I know I was interacting with a Bot yet this technician was oblivious to the fact that I was on the chat for 10 minutes already. Although he focused on immediately resolving the issues, it was as if he was unaware of the previous bot engagement I had been through and as if he was the original responder to my initial chat request.
There is so much to take away from this experience (about Chat Bots) which I am bursting to share.
Firstly, it has reinforced the need for me to clarify the specific differences in consumer facing bots that already exist and after only a short space of time since exposure to adoption:
Chatbots, generally rule based botsI believe these will surface (and are in fact already surfacing) as a the most common bots in consumer facing businesses, in the short-term.
These Bots are generally easiest to build with less infrastructure than their more complicated sister/brother - AI Bots. Think of these as built almost for a single purpose for example to Chat: and to provide very linear and single dimensional support for example: customer service. They have a specific (usually cheaper) technology and architecture requirement and are quicker and easier to build, deploy and implement but therefore cheaper, less scalable and less robust with lots of potential down side for the long term for example with reliability, analytics, learning, less of an investment, more of a cost and liability (as I see it). Platforms are starting to emerge delivering precise PaaS solutions specifically around ChatBots for Example; Kore and Pullstring amongst many others.
AI BotsAI Bots are similar to Chatbots but one fundamental difference (which seems quite a simple add-on, on the surface) drastically affecting the tech requirements demanded to support a Chatbot through to more advanced levels, as well as ongoing support, is the artificial intelligence component, AKA the NLP (Natural Language Processing capability ), the brain, the engine, the learning centre.
A good example I like to use to best demonstrate the fundamental difference between a Chatbot and AI Bot is the development of intelligence (and literacy) in children and, adding the advanced layer of how children learn values and morals and decision making beyond the literacy aspects. I suppose these are also the characteristics that define a human vs a machine… IE, once they are literate, how do they learn to decide right from wrong.
Chatbots are like putting an ipad in a 2–3yr old childs hands. It’s an intuitive experience and without human intervention whatsoever and the support of Siri and Apps alone, the child could actually learn to say words and after a while speak sentences and engage with other humans.
As an aside, maybe this concept of educating children will be the first generation of education overhauls we will experience which could replace how our current early learning education systems work?
BUT, to teach the child how to learn values, morals, decision making…this requires parental guidance, experience, making mistakes, life lessons. Injecting parental guidance and the added layer into children turns literacy into something far greater…it creates the intelligence demanded to make life decisions and think for oneself.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence bots of course provide an overall function far greater than a mere Chatbot and require a brain and a Natural Language Processor (NLP) to convert and harness the outcomes of conversations, apply some intelligence and convert that knowledge through learning into powerful decision making capability, over the long term.
In addition, there are some supportive requirements in the background that make up and define the eco system needed to build, run, nurture and maintain a ‘living’ AI relationship beyond just a Chatbot.
In simple term those supportive elements are:
The above exposes that if you are not tech savvy, a developer or from the inside caverns of the trade as it applies and relates to Bots, ChatBots and AI developments, and you are wondering what it takes to build a bot or you are considering the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to having your own Bot, then I hope this article is being the sherpa to guide you down the track of the bigger picture surrounding the bot experience itself as an overview (simple) of the ecosystem and what you should be thinking about.
Although the above covers much of the broader infrastructure and potential conceptual hardware related aspects of having your own Bot (Chatbot or AI Bot), the more relevant commercial point to this article is the fundamental principle that Bots are not a set and forget technology nor do they merely solve a problem.
When it comes to the place a Bot holds in the business model and, if your thinking lies around building a bot to solve one problem (that the business has today) so that you can then focus on other areas of the business, you are on the wrong page altogether.
Bots need to evolve in order to realise their true value and in doing so they could and should produce commercial results increasing the bottom line. Rule based ChatBots are less likely to do this for the long term.
Using the mobile phone company example presented above to demonstrate; the company should have Bot related procedures in place such that the human customer service technician will report my feedback and experience so that the Bot and technical development team can update the Bot to improve the future customer experience, thereby allowing the company to utlise the human resources in smarter ways than simple ‘Bot work’.
Of course I am generalising by saying Bots are not a means to an end. Sure they could be. But, in that capacity they don’t realise the potential they could/should, and then they translate into a liability.
The purpose I am building Bots for is far greater. My challenge is to make the reader understand that when built to fulfill an ongoing solution, a solution capable of evolving and adapting with the customer’s needs and journey, right by their side and in their moment of need, that is when Bots apply the ultimate value as an asset to the business which lead to multiple commercial benefits.
My philosophy is that Bots should be built for the long term as an asset to ultimately (and regardless of where in the pipeline or business structure they plug in) to assist the customer journey, experience, behaviour and engagement at all points, thereby enhancing business. For that purpose and in order to help business improve forever more (which never ends and is never complete or over), they require love, care and attention. They have the ability to learn and automatically adapt themselves for improvement, support and maintenance of the customer experience, they just need guidance to nurture them to their true potential.
Other elements are at play once your Bot is built, implemented and installed.
When a Bot (but more so an AI Bot) and indeed the entire supporting ecosystem and infrastructure are correctly built and with the right purpose and objectives in mind, they deliver additional (bonus) by-products which human intelligence investments cannot provide as easily, efficiently, concisely and as cost effectively and these are just a few:
One can spend some money on a Chatbot and fulfill a purpose, which still carries with it all of the above benefits and by-products, but when one spend just a little more and takes steps into the realm of an AI bot, then one makes a long term investment in more than just the right technology but rather, a new business partner powering the profits of the future.
I acknowledge that Bots have a long way to go. The Mobile phone company I dealt with who have lead the charge by adopting early are feeling this pain. Even Facebook’s messenger boss admits it can’t escape the fact that Bots are still in early staging and require ongoing testing, measuring and improvement (you can reference and evidence his article here). But, the good news is that adopting bots early does not mean paying the hefty price tags of the past, for the latest technology revolutions. Bots today are extremely cost effective and you don’t have to leverage PaaS thereby effectively renting someone else’s.
When I frustratingly ranted to the human customer service agent on my mobile phone providers web chat, I sincerely hope he escalated my ‘Bot’ feedback to their Bot development team, to tweak the bots intelligence thereby guiding it to fulfill the human need it had clearly missed on my query and in order to improve for customer experience and saving the company time, money and inefficiency for future customers.
My next ‘brain fart’ which will make for a great follow on article to this one, is all about Brand voice and Brand identity and ensuring these are native to the Bots of the futures programming and to ensure company values shine through, even with Bot engagements…stay tuned.
If you have the need for a bot or just wish to chat about this stuff, I encourage you to contact me.
Article written by Glenn Miller.
Bots | Chatbots | AI.
Remain relevant. Avoid disruption. This is the talk of digital town at the moment…but how?
When it comes to efficiency and productivity in our fast paced lives, we continually seek to get more things done, quicker than ever before, because as creatures of habit, we humans must evolve.
I have used many efficiency and productivity tools (and delivery mechanisms) but the most intelligent by far that I have come across has been Siri (on Apple iPhone). However, whilst using Siri, I have found frustration for example, when requesting the latest news from Siri, she usually returns web links that I have to click. Recently Apple updated iOS, so I gave Siri another go but behold, she wanted to refer me (yet again) to the usual web links…so I sighed as I’d hoped the latest version of Siri was a little smarter.
It made me think that there has got to be something in development to provide me with a mix of content delivery, speed, efficiency, productivity, ease of use, and technology to produce news for me, in real time, when I need it and (in theory) redefining the word ‘routine’ in my life, as it applies…
Then it dawned on me that the answer is finally here and it is already in development and well under way. It’s not a secret but it’s not yet mainstream either.
I’ll use this as a segue to introduce my topic: Bots, Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In one way or another Bots, ChatBots, AI are going to re-shape our lives. An evolution has begun. The dawn of a new beginning which means very exciting times. We’re in the midst of the ‘next big thing’.
5 years ago I stumbled on a technology. I’ll never forget it. In 2011 I opened the iPhone App store and lone and behold there were only 32 iPhone Apps based on, what was then, a ‘new’ technology. I typed in ‘Augmented Reality’ and I couldn’t believe it, only 32 apps on this new technology. I still wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about but I’d read of it. About 18 months later I noticed the number of Apps in this new space grew from 32 Apps to 84, for the same search. I remember counting the number of Apps physically because there we so few that I could count them, literally. Another two or so years later around 2014–2015, that 84 must have grown to over about 400 and the exercise of counting became too hard for my brain to calculate. What I noticed however is that while the number of Apps grew substantially, that rate of growth was in no way proportionate to the numbers of take-ups by the end-user or consumer markets. Consumer interest had not rapidly embraced the new technology with the same rate the developer world had created them, until recently that is…
By now I expect you’ve read or heard about, if not played, the world’s’ most massively adopted game in history, Pokémon Go. For the first time in history, through this game, we observed the consumer take-up rates blowing all statistics off the charts, more than any other game or ‘craze’ before it, and thereby exposing the most basic level of ‘Augmented Reality’ through the game. Although the game only unleashes a small part of ‘Augmented Reality’ within the game itself, I expect we’ll see its (Augmented Reality’s) full implementation and capability slowly emerge and ripple through the Consumer market and indeed the Consumer experience leveraging this incredible experience across mobile tech, sector, industry etc.
I use the above case study to introduce the latest set of technologies which I believe will be the next incredible impact we will look back upon and mark as one of the most significant of all time.
Let’s take a look at:
What is a Bot and Chatbot
A bot is piece of software that is designed and created to automate the kinds of tasks we would usually do on our own, like making a reservation, adding an event to your calendar or displaying information.
Other types of things bots can do:
What is a Chatbot?
A Chatbot is a computer program or algorithm designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet and can be more commonly found in ‘conversation’ based environments or Apps.
As one would expect, Chatbots could take on many forms but if we stretch the imagination not too far at all, one fantastic application for such Chatbots would suite extremely well in a social media environment and especially well in our community connected world. Imagine further if Chatbots were deployed in a Facebook environment. You could open your favourite Brands Facebook Page and ask a question like: “Is this dress available in Blue instead of Red?” and imagine if the Chatbot just replied: ‘yes’ and: ‘you can order it in your size…what is your size?’. You reply: ‘10’ for example and it could reply: ‘where would you like it shipped?’ and you could reply with your address and it could ask you for it and would display a link. You click the link and it directs you to Paypal where you complete the transaction and bang! you close the Facebook Messenger App and the next day your blue dress arrives at your door.
If this is feeling strange or uncomfortable for you, invasive or just too futuristic, what if I brought this article full circle and told you: ”…sorry, you’re REALLY behind the times!”. What if I told you: “the future is now!”
Bots are not the future, they are already adopted and deployed among us. They are present. With that feeling inside your head, you can rest assured and feel glad you are reading this article because now you are ‘in the know’. Bots or more practically Chatbots are implemented already, within society and in use.
There are some known Chatbots like FooBot by Redfoo on Facebook (you can learn more about it here). If you don’t know who Redfoo is, it’s time you get onto Google and Search Redfoo. Some unknown Chatbots exist(or so it is speculated) inside applications like Apple’s iMessage for example. In this case iMessage is capable of including tracking details if you were chatting with FedEx about your parcel due.
Some additional examples (and you can play around with these yourself):
In April 2016 facebook opened its Messenger app to Chatbot development by developers.
Since then, we’ve seen the quickest adoption in history of a technology to the end-user and Consumer markets such that within weeks, we already saw Chatbots released on this platform in full use by end consumers within months of launching.
In business, one business focused messaging service utilising bot technology is Slack. Visit www.slack.com to play/learn more. Bots are proliferating in business at speed unseen since introduction of apps. They help business automate workflows and do things like to-do lists or even taking customer’s orders, writing up proposals, answering customer enquiries and FAQ’s and even qualifying leads/prospects and acting as sales assistants or PA’s.
Some recent and practical business cases are: Pizza Hut(USA) who recently launched its Bot with chat based ordering to take orders and claw back some market share from Domino’s Pizza’s App. Taco bell (USA) similarly have built a Chatbot in Slack from which customers can place orders: Click here if interested to view more.
Some additional platforms one can build Bots on or find Bots in:
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
As an aside for now, I introduce Artificial Intelligence: computer systems able to do the kinds of stuff normally requiring human intelligence, such as finding things for you, speech recognition, taking notes, setting reminders, making decision, and translation between languages to mention a few. Practical examples are: Siri (on Apple iPhone), Cortana on Microsoft or ‘Ok Google’ on Android.
Effectively these are all bots, actually extremely advanced bots to laymen minds. Some may say, these bots emulate our human abilities. I think the difference between artificial intelligence and generic bots are the ability to evolve over time and with the ability to learn, based on responses or outcomes…the ability to ‘think’.
Let me explain with an example: I asked Siri: “Are you siri?” and her first response was: “I am Siri.”. I asked her again: “Are you Siri?”, again she responded, “I am Siri.” and the third time I asked, she answered: ”Siri, that’s me!”. You too can try this and my point is by the third time, Siri learns the pattern and responds differently to the first two responses. One could argue she is programmed that way but the point is that the bot has the ability to learn, adapt and respond, even if it is programmed to do so.
Let me take your mind further. Think about how much personal data your phone contains. Now think of how smart Siri is. Next, think of how powerful Chatbot technology is, even if only based on the simple samples I expose above. Now imagine for a minute mixing the three…your Smart Phone (Siri), a Chatbot and AI combined. Imagine if your favourite Brands could draw on all of your personal information, based on Siri’s brain, and could draw on all of that data to deliver targeted, measured responses to/for you, based on your user data and when you engage with those brands in social media or online, in real time. The results are perfectly targeted marketing outcomes to suit your precise user experience. This is where I think AI, Bot and Chatbot technology could or will end up and it is scary.
The problem as I see it is: what about such technologies becoming too smart? or what about all of this functionality in the wrong hands? used for the wrong, maybe bad purposes? I am concerned about the ethics and morals behind the Bots. By comparison I think about the music industry when ‘Napster’ first launched…the industry was baffled and it took 10 years or more before cloud based music apps took back control of music distribution and royalties.
I worry about the ethics and morals behind and inside the minds of those outside of the industry…of the ‘bad guys’, those ‘wrong hands’ we have nightmares about.
Who sets the rules? Who sets the boundaries? Who decides who plays the game?
With source code free and open in developer environments like Facebook Messenger etc, we are exposed to controversial question like: would you open your calendar to a Bot to book appointments for you? Believe it or not, they exist (email me and I will share a practical example with you) and they do just that. What if the data behind those apps got into the wrong hands?
As far as AI, Bots and Chat Bots go, I hope I have educated you and scraped the surface well enough to attract your interest and attention. I hope I have opened your mind with interesting thought.
Until the next time we meet again I’ll leave you with a more pressing human questioning: how far can bots go? where will the line be drawn on Bots replacing people?
In addition and for those of you who allow Google to show you weather and tell you how long it will take to get home or to work and track your every movement…this feature is called Google Now and it’s effectively an AI Bot!
If you have the need for a bot or just wish to chat about this stuff, I encourage you to contact me. Maybe my Bot will reply and schedule the meeting for us… I had better show up to the meeting though…
Article written by Glenn Miller. Please visit my Website and feel free to connect. I love meeting new, innovative and exciting people.