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Chatbots, Human Intelligence & The New York Times

This week, Thomas Friedman, Opinion Columnist with The New York Times, shared his thoughts on the future of automation and the customer experience.

Friedman’s insights came directly from his visit with [24]7.ai, a software vendor that focuses primarily on chatbots and customer interactions.

Needless to say, we are excited that a widely distributed publication like The New York Times is recognizing the truly transformational opportunity chatbots present - however at Ada, our point of view is a bit different, and dare we say - disruptive.

Shifting market priorities from human-touch to automation

Friedman describes the market shift he witnessed after visiting [24]7.ai’s Indian office after a 15-year interval. He notes that on his first visit, the business was called 24/7 and was almost entirely focused on growing a call centre, staffed by young phone operators in India who answered customer service calls and sold products over the phone for brands around the world.

Fast forward fifteen years and chatbot technology is now the company’s flagship offering.

No doubt this story reflects a shift in market priorities; businesses are moving from human-first to automation-first customer service strategies. And we agree - this is the way forward.

Breaking the dependance on IT

However, at Ada, and unlike other vendors that sell chatbot technology, we have the very strong opinion that when it comes to building and managing a chatbot, developers and engineers are not the ones who should be leading the charge.

At Ada, we work with clients to build out ‘Automated Customer Experience’ (ACX) teams with our chatbot platform at the core. These teams are comprised of the business stakeholders who understand, by virtue of their experience and role, what customers want and need.

And while Friedman notes that ‘so-called’ “high-wage, middle-skilled jobs’ are becoming extinct in an AI-driven world”, we wholeheartedly disagree. Ada’s AI-powered chatbot platform, when leveraged in a customer-centric, ACX-oriented organization, frees skilled workers of the burden of robotic and repetitive interactions so they can focus on mission-critical inquiries and provide truly impactful value to customers.

Furthermore, unlike [24]7.ai, Ada contains 70%+ (not 20%) of all customer inquiries, which has a material impact on live agent wait times and the quality of interactions.

Can AI be ‘human’?

With all of this context in mind, we believe that businesses should be leveraging the benefits of AI to empower non-technical stakeholders to automate their knowledge and years of experience with empathy and understanding.

AI will most certainly not reflect human interests if it isn’t built and managed by the very human beings who understand those interests best. Rather than depending heavily on IT and development teams to build and manage chatbots and virtual assistants, the mandate to automate the customer experience should be squarely in the hands of the agents who are on the front line, fielding day-to-day inquiries.

This is how we ensure that automation and AI reflect human interests. 1) by freeing human resources of the robotic, repetitive interactions that currently plague them and 2) by ensuring that automation is being managed by the people who are directly responsible for ensuring a meaningful customer experience.

The Ada Difference

That’s why we’ve designed Ada to be inclusive and accessible. We’ve helped our clients to launch some of the world’s first automated customer experience (ACX) teams comprised of customer service professionals, not programmers, dedicated to automating the interactions with which they are most familiar.

Ada is also able to contain a significantly higher proportion of inquiries, automating personalized interactions based on user behaviour, past inquiries, account information, etc. all of which you can experience for yourself by scheduling a demo

We’ll be taking our insights and stance on the future of AI-powered customer service to New York next week at our Executive AI Transformation event. Join us to continue the conversation! 

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