Chatting with Robots

Virtual customer relations staff, otherwise known as Chatbots, are taking over customer inquiries in many large New Zealand businesses

Virtual customer relations staff, otherwise known as Chatbots, are taking over customer inquiries in many large New Zealand businesses. Banks, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, energy companies and many councils are utilising the technology.

AI Forum of New Zealand has released a research report on Chatbots, noting that kiwi companies are utilising digital employees to reduce costs. Charlie from Tower Insurance answers 10,000 utterances or around 2,000 conversations daily. Similarly, Oscar at Air New Zealand manages 2,000 sessions per day. 

Chatbots currently collect conversation data and use natural language processing to ‘talk’ to customers. As the technology advances, it is likely interfaces will incorporate augmented reality. Customers will feel as though they are having a conversation with a virtual bot rather than a screen. Research has shown that 33 percent of customer inquiries are instantly resolved by the technology.

Taking strides in Chatbot technology is UneeQ. The company worked with Mentemia to create a digital life coach version of Sir John Kirwan. Similarly, Soul Machine created a digital version of Will.i.am. This looks to be the future of AI chat robots, with a number of companies already using ‘real life’ characters: Vodafone’s Kiri, UBank’s Mia and ASB’s Josie. 

Imagine sitting down for a chat with Stephen Hawking, Isaac Asimov or Wonder Woman." Said Madeline Newman, AI Forum Executive Director. 

The AI Forum is currently working closely with the New Zealand Government to develop an ethical AI strategy that ensures Kiwis can place trust in the technology.