Chatbots on the rise

Chatbots, or business virtual customer relations staff, are now taking over much of New Zealand big business, AI Forum NZ executive director Madeline Newman says.

She says that the banks, insurance companies, Spark, Vodafone, energy companies and councils all have chatbots to deal with people’s inquiries.

 Tower insurance’s chatbot Charlie answers 10,000 utterances a day, or about 2,000 conversations daily. Oscar at AirNZ manages 2,000 sessions every day, she notes in a statement.

They gather large amounts of data (to give them something to say) and use natural language processing to ‘talk’ to users – the intent is to mimic natural human language.

 “From a user experience perspective they are aligned as digital humans. Uneeq worked with Mentemia to create a digital John Kirwan life coach. That’s a pretty advanced bot delivering wellbeing coaching. Soul Machine had produced some outstanding chatbots too,” Newman says.

 Some research shows 33 percent of customers’ questions are instantly resolved by chatbots. Probably Soul Machine’s is the most engaged and coolest new chatbot in Aotearoa.

 “Next generation interfaces for chatbots are likely to see these incorporated with augmented reality. It will be a bit like having a conversation with a virtual bot that is sitting on the chair opposite you, not on a screen.

 “And then there is the Metaverse where a chatbot avatar could walk you through a virtual experience rather than just talk about it, bringing things like teaching to whole new levels. Imagine sitting down for a chat with Stephen Hawking, Isaac Asimov or Wonder Woman.” 

The AI Forum is working closely with the government to develop an AI strategy for New Zealand that includes ethics, principles that will provide the assurance that will underpin trust in AI going forward.

Research report

 The AI Forum of New Zealand’s research report says chatbots are increasingly being used in New Zealand to resolve any queries or issues.

 The report says digital humans will increasingly become a key part of everyday customer experiences. The emotional connection is becoming more important as is the power of embodied brand in a digital world.

New Zealand scale-up Ambit deploys digital employees on its conversational AI platform and delivers a solution within weeks. Ambit’s single biggest challenge now is future growth, scaling and tackling the international market.

The report says digital employees operate through a conversational interface and reduce the effort and time for a customer to search a website, make enquiries on the phone, or queue at a store.

 Uneeq has a digital human platform that uses AI to create a natural human-like interface for machine to human communication.  Their customers and digital humans include, Vodafone (Kiri), UBank (Mia), Ministry of Primary Industries (Vai) and ASB Bank (Josie), UBS and Southern Cross.  


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