Of the tens if not hundreds of thousands of chatbots, virtual agents and assistants released in 2018, quite a few made more than their fair share of news. In this roundup for bot technology, and how the public reacted to them, we take a look at bots around the world that made headlines for very different reasons.
Zurich Insurance Chatbot
Banks and insurance are a natural home for bots, with endless customer queries to handle. Zurich UK deployed an AI-powered chatbot back in March to help consumers manage their claims. Zara was developed using themes of behavioural economics with external partners Spixii, an insurtech startup that came out of Zurich-sponsored StartupBootCamp.
The project started as a six-week trial for home and motor claims and is still going strong, so we presume it delivers a decent return in time savings to Zurich. Zara acts as the first line of customer support ahead of human agents, customers can provide her with the basic details of an accident or claim to help speed along the process.
Dream11 Indian Premier League Fantasy Cricket Bot
Most bot developers dream of making a big splash in their field. Over in India, the Dream11 fantasy cricket bot was so in demand, the creators rapidly needed to set aside extra server space and resources, eventually operating at eight times their original digital footprint. While that might sound like a hassle, compare that to the need to hire extra customer support agents, provide phones and offices, and pay them!
The Dream11 bot received over a million customer queries during the 2018 IPL season, with 80% handled successfully by the chatbot, typically in around 30 seconds, helping the company make 10 times ROI.
While the big names in world cricket were flaying the balls to the boundary, the bot was helping provide information on trades and players. Dream11 and its 40 million users were trading players and looking for the tips and hints about who to have in their teams. With sensational user growth in the last few years, bots will be necessary to maintain that growth and ensure customer satisfaction.
It will also act as a key indicator to other fantasy league operators, from the NFL to the English Premier League, on how they can be more efficient and use technology for a better customer experience.
Marks and Spencer Bot
British high-street retailer gained lots of headlines for its new bot, due to the company’s older, more traditional clientele. The company had experimented with a seasonal bot in 2017 for gift inspirations, and rolled out a full customer support speech recognition bot in 2018 to replace its call center team.
Powered by Twilio, the AI bot helps direct large volumes of customer queries to the right place. So, not a chatbot per se, but a practical deployment of smart technology to improve a key business area, and there’s a claimed 90% accuracy rate. Presumably, the remaining 10% of grannies complaining about their knitwear purchases were put through to a human agent, or are still there on hold going “hello, what do you mean, you don’t understand ‘Cable Knit Longline Cardigan’?”
The 100 workers affected were moved elsewhere, highlighting that chatbots need not mean redundancies, most went to the shop floor where they could improve personal customer service.
Of course, bots aren’t just about the bottom line. From Karachi, Pakistan comes the tale of an empowering chatbot for women to help educate and inspire. Aurat Raaj recently won a BAFTA award in the “AI: empowering the future category.”
The chatbot Raaji helps tackle the many myths and taboos about sex and reproductive health across developing countries. The bot is just part of the story, as the company uses a range of articles, videos, podcasts, case studies and animated films to highlight issues.
The company behind it also offer technology courses for women, self-defence and other skills to help them progress in some of the more traditional parts of the world. Across the globe people struggle to find the courage to discuss all kinds of issues from mental health to financial problems and many others.
Bots provide an eager ear, and can link to all sorts of resources, and encourage people to seek professional or medical help. Whatever the issue, health and education bots can make huge strides in improving the lives of millions.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.