Robots Will Replace People in Customer Service… Sooner Than You Think


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Alan Turing is one of the founders of the modern computer. In honour of Turing’s work, a prize – the Turing Prize, worth $100,000 – is available for the first artificial intelligence system able to fool a person into thinking they are talking to another person. To a sentient AI system. So far no AI system has won the prize, although some are getting pretty close.

Another related AI prize is the annual Loebner Prize, worth some $25,000, for the AI system most able to fool a person into thinking they are chatting to another person. The winner this year was an AI system called Elbot created by Fred Roberts using Kiwilogic’s Lingubot Creator. Elbot apparently fooled 25% of the people into believing that it was another person. 30% is enough to pass the Turing Test.

The goals of the German company behind Kiwilogic Lingubot Creator is to supplement or replace customer service’s reliance upon people. As the tagline on Kiwilogic’s website says, “Virtual Customer Advisors: More Satisfied Customers, Lower Costs”. Just think of it. No more weird foreign accents on the phone! No more telephone handovers to agents who ask you about your problem all over again and still can’t help you! No more recruiting issues, mandatory rest-breaks or 100% agent attrition rates! Just your reliable, well-informed, friendly customer service robot, who sounds like she really cares about your plight. And can help you with your problem on the first call. A truly winning proposition for those pulling the customer service purse strings. Particularly in these cash-strapped times.

What do you think? Can robots ever replace people in customer service? Or is this just the first little slip down the slippery slope that Isaac Asimov foresaw in ‘I, Robot’?

Post a comment or email me at graham(dot)hill(at)web)dot)de to get the conversation going.

Hat tip to Nick Carr at his iconic Rough Type blog.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Consultant

Further Reading:


Nick Carr, ‘Almost Human’

Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins, ‘Loebner Prize Winner Announced: Is He Human?’

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn


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