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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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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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