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ApologyBot: The latest twist to a long-running saga of preposterous customer service SNAFUs

ApologyBot brings sensitivity to client experience

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A ground-breaking ApologyBot® is being tested in demanding customer service environments this spring.

1st Apr 2021
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Silicon Valley programmers are determined to disprove the conventional wisdom that AI can’t handle customer service by developing ApologyBot, an online text assistant that can not only help with traditional service enquiries, but also intervene with appropriate apologies and offers of restitution.ApologyBot conversation

Too often, online bots fail to recognise the intractable problems customers face when they encounter situations that were not anticipated by the automated system designers - like, for example, the online shopping system that doesn’t recognise a new address and can’t be updated by the customer who doesn’t have internet access yet.

Virtual idiots

Poorly implemented chatbots have systematically ruined customer experiences and – in the worst instances customer service bots are little more than “virtual idiots”, according to our sister site MyCustomer.com

However Greg Kefer, chief marketing officer of chatbot developer LifeLink said that Covid-19 has altered the equation in the healthcare sector: “Almost overnight, millions of patients were using chatbots as they sought guidance about coronavirus symptoms. The bots met extreme conversational demand in a time when human teams were in extremely short supply. Now the question being asked is what else these virtual agents can do in other areas.”

Context-sensitive help

Enter Andy, the ApologyBot. While some effort has to go into programming industry-specific scenarios and knowledge into its logic engine, the flexibility built into its patented emotional machine learning algorithms will adapt rapidly to most customer scenarios, the developers said (see example, right).

A couple of years ago, HMRC toyed with a cartoon-based chatbot called Ruth to field taxpayers’ questions online. Like many other early experiments, the prototype didn’t come to much, but our sources indicated that if the ApologyBot proves itself in other environments, the tax department might be willing to roll it out to supplement overstretched helpline teams during tax season.

Who knows, if things develop as the ApologyBot team hopes, maybe one day bots will get involved in the tax appeals process?

Replies (3)

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
01st Apr 2021 12:06

Just to let you down easily if you got excited by the prospect of deploying the ApologyBot on your website, check the date at the top of the article.

I guess the subject was too close to reality to get much of a reaction. I should have known that when it comes to new technology, there's nothing you can think up that hasn't already been turned into a startup pitch.

Happy Easter everyone!

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
01st Apr 2021 13:18

I know some people in retail that would be happy to pass problem customers onto an AI like this.

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By Caber Feidh
01st Apr 2021 23:33

I am waiting for the AI CustomerServiceBot that will make the ApologyBot unnecessary.

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