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Why chatbots won’t replace humans

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The use of artificial intelligence in the contact centre may sound like a good idea, but BRUCE VON MALTITZ, co-founder of 1Stream, believes its success lies with how well it is implemented and not just the technology itself.

Fear mongering is everywhere, in every industry. And most recently, the contact centre has experienced its own dose of this with the announcement that Facebook will be making use of chatbots via Messenger to deal with customer queries.

The concern, of course, is that the development and inclusion of intelligent tech will replace humans in a contact centre. There are many opinions on the matter, but many industry experts maintain that while the advancements of technology are remarkable, for the foreseeable future there will remain an important place for people, with the help of automation, in a contact centre.

The reality is that systems, like the ever-frustrating IVR, are starting to take a back seat in favour of more innovative and user-friendly solutions. This can be seen as a positive move as response times are reduced and query resolution increases through advanced tech solutions. But when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) developments, it is likely to be the implementation rather than the new technology alone that will make or break the introduction of chatbots into a call centre.

With the move to an omni-channel approach in a contact centre where a customer can engage on a variety of platforms, adding an additional channel, such as Messenger, is relatively simple.

Most contact centres are already managing multiple channels through which customers are able to make contact, and with integrated cloud-based solutions, this has become even easier and more streamlined. A chatbot, in the form of Messenger, would simply be an additional channel which can be incorporated into a contact centre’s operations.

While the inclusion of Messenger is straightforward, ensuring that chatbots increase efficiency and improve customer experience may not be quite as simple.

The key is to avoid a chatbot becoming just another automated responder that can’t adequately answer a customer query, and therefore creating more customer frustration rather than enhancing the experience.

Currently, the level of AI such as a chatbot is unlikely to be able to deal with all possible scenarios that will be presented to a contact centre. Therefore, a chatbot could be used to solve simple or routine issues, while for more complex situations, the human element is still essential.

The strength of a contact centre lies in the partnership of technology and the human element.

There is a place for technology and automation such as chatbots in a contact centre to simplify and speed up processes. But, at least for the next 5 to 10 years, this technology will not be sufficiently sophisticated to replace humans who will still need to manage the more complex situations.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entires via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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