Is this just a fad?
Chatbot technology has been around far longer than some articles give it credit for: IKEA has been using its scripted customer service AI assistant, Ask Anna, across the company websites for almost 12 years. Crikey, I was even programming my own web chatbot before that, in 2002. It goes without saying that national security agencies and governments will have been using such AI for a lot longer and to a much deeper degree.
Ask Anna wasn’t too well received at initial launch, with feedback indicating she was ‘retarded’ (another, unfortunate, sign of the times). Despite suffering from the same problems chatbots today do such as not knowing the answer to badly phrased or bespoke questions, I think the reason she got such bad press was because the world just wasn’t ready for her. IKEA has always embraced innovative technology and just when Messenger chatbot implementation was about to explode onto the scene, Ask Anna was retired. How’s that for leading the way?
What could we use it for?
What are the pros and cons?
- Automates frequently asked customer questions – providing 24/7 support with an immediate turnaround
- Can handle the entire customer journey from awareness to conversion – customers can browse, order, and pay from the platform
- Great for delivering creative campaigns – see here and here
- There’s still room to be innovative
- Initial expense – although I can put you in touch with a dev company who have created a FAQs bot for as little as £2k
- Planning time – you will need a lot of in-house or agency resource in order to plan the script/customer journey possibilities
- Ongoing support – you can’t just build a chatbot and leave it. It will need regular updates as you tweak the scripted responses, based on the data output