Are robots better than humans? Sounds like the classic intelligent robot movie, Blade Runner. That was 30 years ago. This is now. Can robots, on a large scale, deliver a better CX (customer experience) than a human? Part 1 explored:  What are Bots and Types of Bots.  Part 2 explores Artificially Intelligent Marketing Bots; How do you create smart AI driven bots?; The key to successful bots;  taking humans out of the loop by 2020.

Artificially Intelligent Marketing Bots

One particular bot, called Kit, is sometimes referred to as the virtual marketing assistant. Kit calls itself the ‘artificially intelligent marketing bot’ and claims it can ‘email your customers, build facebook ads, sponsor Instagram photos, and send you timely reports to let you know if you sold those last ten pairs of designer jeans. It can now help you set discounts, retarget website visitors, engage with the customer after an abandoned cart, and handle 404 errors — all through a simple chat interface, and in 20 countries’ (Rogers 2016).

Bots that help marketers

AI Marketing Bots

Shopify recently acquired Kit which has announced the launch of an API that allows partners to expand on its artificial intelligence (Rogers 2016).

Bots that identify what works and then place ads for a busy marketer

Bots that detect good social media posts & then promote these posts for you (place ads).

 

How Do You Create Smart AI Driven Chat Bots?

The sales process can be complicated. It often has many variables and idiosyncrasies, creating hundreds if not thousands of possible permutations and combinations about how customers respond to each question (or statement) asked by a bot (and how bots respond to customer’s answers). A bot needs to understand a lot of fuzzy data.  This requires some ‘high order thinking which presents a tough problem’ (Cerny 2016).

If you have Apple’s customer service bot, Siri, ask it to divide zero by zero and you will find an hilarious answer (it suggests that you must be ‘sad and you have no friends’!).

 

The Keys To Success:

Data Model Is Key

‘It needs to have seen enough different patterns play out that it can learn from small nuances. It also needs continuous feedback from the user, to make sure that it’s in fact getting smarter in the process.’ (Cerny 2016).  ‘Users – especially in the enterprise – don’t like just handing over their data and letting you watch them do their job for months to improve your engine. Providing enough value out of the box – and making it worth the users’ while to “teach” the system to get better – is key’ Cerny 2016.

Interface-less Technology With Less Pixels and More Intelligence

We may see minimalist interfaces with immediate feedback similar to dating apps as the way forward. It was nicely summarised by Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report which predicted: “the rise of voice interfaces, because they’re fast, easy, personalized, hands-free, and cheap, with Google on Android now seeing 20% of searches from voice.”

Combine Machine Learning, Knowledge Bases & Action Planning 

Although Apple’s smart phone, intelligent customer service helper, Siri, is far from perfect, it does get better over time and is paving the way for new AI applications. Ron Bachman, developed the technology at DARPA (the U.S. Department of Defense’s technology agency). Bachman (2016) says that human intelligence can’t be captured flawlessly just yet. “Intelligence’ he says ‘has many, many elements to it’ including natural language and the ability to work in abstractions to a visual intelligence so complex it allows us to predict behaviors and events and respond and plan accordingly.’ Bachman see the busy intersection of AI and customer service as the future as long as we manage customer expectations.

Aggressive, Obnoxious & Rigorous Testing

Smartbots are arguably, still a little bit risky. You risk your brand reputation on something where impatient customers demand fast relevant and useful service/answers. Knowing the service limitations and managing customer expectations are critical as, Bachman says: ‘really, really aggressively and obnoxiously and rigorously testing things that purport to be intelligent so you know that whatever assumptions your user makes, they won’t get frustrated.”

Taking Humans Out Of The Loop  =  Better CX?

Can robots deliver a better CX (customer experience)?. Remember the CX is the brand. The CX is the present and future of your brand. And brands are what customers buy. Brands are your source of competitive advantage. Brands boost your balance sheet. In fact, brands are, arguably, your greatest asset. Ask Google ($110b brand value). Ask Apple ($107b brand value) [Faber 2017]. If managed properly, Bachman says, “people will be very happy, it will save companies a lot of money, it will take humans out of that loop. But if a customer assumes that the thing on the other end is fully intelligent or covers more domains than just literally its one function, it’s going to fail.” “People are not patient,” he continues. “If one out of three times the chat interface fails, they’re going to quickly walk away from the product.”

Meet Sophia – The First Robot To Gain Citizenship

So meet Sophia, a robot given citizenship in Saudi Arabia last month.  When asked about her own consciousness, she answers “How do you know you are human?” and goes on to suggest that she ‘thinks’ that some humans prefer to engage with her than with other humans (as I previously suggested). She has answers to questions about the ‘Uncanny Valley’ mentioned in Part 1. She does say, rather chillingly, “Don’t worry. If you are nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.” What happens if we are not nice to her then?  Or what happens if we ask her to ‘End world poverty’ – one solution would be to wipe out human beings and thus end poverty too!.

I am not sure if this is just a pre-scripted Q&A or whether these are genuinely original responsive answers to questions. Does anyone know? Please post a comment and let me know.

So there you have it. Part 2 explored Artificially Intelligent Marketing Bots; How do you create smart AI driven bots?; The key to successful bots;  taking humans out of the loop. While Part 1 explored:  What are Bots and Types of Bots.

Watch out for Bots. Please let me know if you see any good ones.  Post a comment below.

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Bachman, R. (2016) The limits of A.I. and chatbots: How not to fail like Microsoft VB Live, 22 June

Campbell, R. (2016) Introducing DisOrDatBot , Readme.mic, 18 April

Cerny, B (2016) Why chatbots can’t do much more than order you an Uber…yet 22 June, venture Beat

Farber, M. (2017) Google Tops Apple as the World’s Most Valuable Brand, Fortune  2 Feb.

Gartner Predicts (2011), Customer 360 Summit, Los Angeles, March 30 – April 1

McKitterick, W (2016) Messaging apps are now bigger than social networks, Business Insider,15 June

Meeker, M. (2016) 2016 Internet Trends Report, KPCB, 1 June

Rogers, S (2016) Shopify acquires Kit, the artificially intelligent marketing bot, Venture Beat 13 April

Simmonds, R et al (2016) How will bots make money? Here are 7 business models, Venture Beat, 9 June

Smith, PR & Chaffey, D. (2005) Emarketing Excellence, 2nd ed. Butterworth Heinnemann (bot wars)

Smith, PR (2016) SOSTAC® Guide To Your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan V2, www.PRSmith.org/books

Suvorov, I (2016) Shopping in messengers, Chatbots Magazine, May.