The robots are coming, the robots are coming!
By now I’m sure you’ve heard all about the rise of bots and artificial intelligence.
While these new technologies are certainly poised to bring about swift changes to certain industries, pundits everywhere are going as far as to claim that humans will soon be replaced by these machines.
Let me tell you why that won’t happen.
Most current bots are still actually just humans
Fun fact time!
Most of these shiny new chatbots and artificial assistants you see floating around are actually not bots at all. They’re humans masquerading as bots.
For example, one of the more popular artificial assistants on the market right now promises to make setting up meetings dead simple through automation.
When arranging a meeting over email, all you have to do is CC “Amy” and she’ll take care of everything for you.
She’ll converse with your guest to coordinate a suitable time and location for the both of you. She determines this information based on your predefined preferences.
Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, you know the old saying…
Turns out that Amy, the automated and artificial assistant, is actually neither automated nor artificial.
The company who created Amy has dozens of very human employees working around the clock to manage and facilitate these conversations.
And that’s because the technology simply isn’t there yet, and likely never will be. How can you create a bot that can account for every variable in human interaction?
How do you teach a bot to care?
We already have the most powerful tool we could ever imagine.
The human brain.
Humans do all of these things really well already. It’s second nature.
How do you teach a robot to look at a person and see them as more than just a combination of moving parts? To look at them not just for who they are, but where they’ve been, and where they want to go?
How do you program kindness, humor, empathy?
A robot is nothing but a predefined set of programs and algorithms. Trying to elicit an emotional response out of your customers with a robot is next to impossible.
Humans are more powerful (when properly motivated)
One of the principal motivations to replace humans with robots is that humans are too expensive. They require food, healthcare, and vacations.
Robots don’t get hungry, sick, or tired. They just keep on trucking.
Massive corporations like McDonald’s and Verizon have recently experienced labour strikes. Employees felt they deserved more for the work they do, and the bigwigs were simply concerned with the bottom line.
When you’re a multi-billion dollar corporation with millions of investors, every fraction of a cent counts.
McDonald’s settled with their employees, conceding higher pay and better benefits.
You would think that the increased cost would negatively impact the bottom line in the next quarter, right?
Well, a funny thing happened. Their sales increased.
The improvements we made to our compensation and benefits package to employees in U.S.-company operated restaurants, along with expanding [the tuition assistance program] Archways to Opportunity … have resulted in lower crew turnover and higher customer satisfaction scores.
– Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s
Happy workers > happy customers > more sales.
This further reinforces the idea that the customer’s experience trumps all. If your front line of customer service representatives are miserable, it will translate into a bad experience for your customer.
But the opposite rings true as well.
Empowering, encouraging, and motivating your team of humans will enable them to create memorable experiences for your customers.
Bots are great at conducting efficient transactions, but a memorable experience?
People don’t trust bots (nor should they)
Maybe it’s due to watching decades worth of post-apocalyptic, “the robots are taking over” films, but we simply don’t trust artificial intelligence.
Here’s a breakdown of the current state of bots:
Trust is one of the most important characteristics of a human being. It is what we build entire relationships on.
And it takes a great deal of time to build that level of trust.
When we finally find that connection with someone, whether it’s in friendship, romance or even business, there’s no greater feeling.
To ask your customers to have that level of trust in something so artificial literally goes against every fiber of their being. It just feels wrong.
We live in a world that is simultaneously more connected than ever before, and yet entirely disconnected.
Your business can be the place people go to to find that human connection again.
Invest in your greatest asset, your team of humans.
So, what are bots good for?
Bots are good for simple, repetitive tasks. That’s it.
Need to check the balance on your phone bill? There’s a bot for that.
Need to find out how much you pay in bank fees every month? There’s a bot for that.
Need to update your shipping address with your favorite online store? There’s a bot for that.
Any tasks outside of these examples, humans will generally want to talk with other humans. Mainly because we simply like it better.
And that’s ok.
We don’t need tech to replace humans. We need tech to make humans better.