Chatbots > Robots?  Spoiler: Yes


I recently read a news story about Fabio.  No, not the Fabio famous for steamy romance novel covers and more recently hustling imitation butter.  This Fabio is a robot who was recently fired from a grocery store for failing to assist customers.

Fabio was unable to help customers find the products there were looking for and customers ended up going out of their way to avoid him. That doesn’t sound like a good experience at all. The article went on to say that Fabio often had difficulty understanding questions that he was asked due to the noise in the store. Or, if he heard the question, he might provide too vague of an answer to be of any help. Shoppers got to the point that it was easier to just ask a human employee.

Is this evidence that the world isn’t ready for artificial intelligence (AI) or robotics-based customer service?  I don’t think that’s the case at all.

Aspect’s 2016 Customer Experience Index revealed that two-thirds of consumers feel good when they can handle a customer service issue without having to talk to a person. Chatbots (A.K.A. AI) not only enable self-service, and with proper design, can significantly reduce effort.

Maybe Fabio’s former employer went too big too fast — the noise in the store certainly contributed to his failure.  Perhaps a chatbot instead of a robot is a better place to start.

See Chatbots in action across a variety of verticals here.