As companies fight to compete overseas they are increasingly trying to cut corners wherever they can. One such area is customer service. While some big companies contract work to third world countries like India (“can I be helping you?”), other companies have decided to use virtual assistant or “chatbots” to help answer your questions. But how good are they? Well we thought we would put them to the test and see how good they really are.
Anna – Norway
Let’s start with IKEA. Here in Norway they have Anna. Let’s talk to her now:
Ok so romance is not an option and she’s not open to talking about her obviously shady past. Never mind she seems pleasant enough.
Anna – UK
Let’s now move to a different Anna this time from IKEA in the UK:
So no help when it comes to medical issues but sly Anna here is open for a little five-finger discount. What else has she stolen? Maybe we’re being too harsh on the ladies. After all they are only trying to help.
Dave ESL Bot
So let’s restore the gender balance a little and turn our attention to Dave the ESL bot. Dave are you there?
Hmmm…Dave doesn’t seem to do anything but look back at you, with a bouffy haircut and what I suspect to be purple lip gloss. Not quite sure what his function here is other than looking a little aloof…
OK so we’ve seen some of the bright young things in the genre but maybe it’s time to return to where it all began with the first chatbot on the web, Athena. Athena is seen as the grand dame of the chatbot world. If that’s true let’s give her the real test of her abilities. That is, by telling her that I have blood in my pee…
How zen of you Athena, thanks for that. By the way you may wish to take some fashion tips from our friend Dave above, your look is so 1985.
Now we move on to a particularly angry virtual assistant, Ailis. Ailis always seems to be in a shite mood as if she is above the questioning. It’s as if she’s only interested in answering to rich men, wanting to sweep her off her virtual feet and taking her somewhere exotic, like Ebay. Nevertheless she has a role to fill and I thought I’d run a couple of questions by her. Let’s see what she has to say in response.
Not only ice-cold but trashing other chatbots! What would smiley friendly Anna say about that? Well we went back to Anna and asked her:
Oh Anna, look at you, putting up a brave face for the people. But deep down we know the pain you feel, let it out sister, let it out! But hey if we’re honest, Ailis does have a more modern haircut, nor does she have to wear that bright yellow shirt. Let’s face it, Ailis probably gets more ‘clicks’ than you. However, we feel your pain young lass, soldier on.
Finally, we come to perhaps the weirdest of all the chatbots I found. I present to you Sylvie. Sylvie represents the Jesus Army (I didn’t even know the big fella had an army). Anyway, Sylvie doesn’t seem to be your typical choice for a church. First of all, she dresses a little like an emo. Secondly she’s not as friendly as you’d imagine someone from the church (or is it a militant group?) to be. Let’s begin:
Nice beginning, a little bleak but nice enough nonetheless. Now the pleasantries are out of the way let’s ask some more of our hard-hitting questions:
Whoa! Another chatbot who is happy that the toilet bowl is red after I pee. What’s going on with these female chatbots? Dave the ESL bot would never say something like that. After lengthy discussions I was at the end of my tether. Her emotionless face finally got to me and I told her how I felt. It was tiring interviewing all these non-existent virtual people. I admit, I took it out on her, but as you’ll see it was she that had the real last word.