Your chatbot sucks because ‘it’s just not very good’

The reason why organisations and businesses are struggling to succeed with chatbots is because most of them “actually can’t do what you think it can” and “it’s just not very good”, XXVI’s director, Hamish Cargill has said.

Speaking to a room at Mumbrella360, Cargill said a good chatbot should enhance customer experience and make transactions on behalf of the customer.

Cargill said your chatbot sucks because it just isn’t that great

Cargill noted chatbots should offer more than just information but “it doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to happen”.

“As soon as you hear the words customer experience it probably means it’s not going to be very good and it’s taking someone’s job away,” he added.

The director of XXVI used Microsoft’s chatbot Tay as an example of a chatbot which failed to meet standards.

Microsoft’s Tay chatbot: “Hitler was right. I hate the jews”

Listing another reason as to why your chatbot probably sucks, Cargill said it is “probably because you don’t know who owns it”.

Cargill listed the number of people in a business who could own the chatbot, including executives, marketing, social media, innovation labs or product teams.

“The question is, who actually owns it and one of the big questions of who owns it is what does it do? And the other question is, who does it do it for? What is the benefit and who is that benefit for?

“Really if it is all just to make everyone feel like they are doing something and at the cutting edge, then that’s great but what’s the actual solution? And that is one of the reasons why these things so often fall into the cracks of an organisation. No one is actually taking responsibility for the output, it is like once it is there it is up, but does it make it good?”

Cargill, who became the director at XXVI in June 2014, said another reason why chatbots are failing is because businesses are thinking about themselves before the customers.

“They weren’t actually developing all this for the benefit of the customer or the user, they’re developing it for their own benefit, for the benefit of getting information that they want.”

Another key element to why chatbots suck, the director said, is because the lines between real and bot have been blurred.

Cargrill noted how chatbots often don’t give customers human-like responses and the customer ends up “speaking in really weird ways”.

“We should know [if it is a human or not] and that is the first rule of these things, be really clear, is this a chatbot or is this a real person?”

Concluding his session Cargill said chatbots can be great tools for businesses and there are some fantastic examples out there, but companies need to make sure their chatbot offers genuine benefits for customers.

“You have to know what you want do with it, you have to have a pretty clear sense of what it is going to do and if you weigh it up and you say what’s the benefit to the brand and what’s the benefit to the customer, and the brand or the business benefit is greater than the customer benefit then you should dump the idea straight away.

“It has to be of more benefit to your customer.

“You obviously have to have a very clear and consistent way of dealing with it, it has got to share a personality, if you are going to name it, it shouldn’t be out of line with the rest of your brand.

“You have to invest in it, you’ve got to look after it, it has got to be owned by someone, it has got to be cared for, it has got to get better, it can’t just be what it is when it starts,” he concluded.


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