Earlier this month, a new employee started at Glassons. Her name is Charlie. Charlie has an outgoing, optimistic personality, making her well-suited for the retail environment. She’s also a chatbot created by Kiwi start-up, Ambit.
Charlie appears on Glassons FAQ and Help pages, and her job description includes e-commerce support, providing personalised information about things like exchanges, refunds, and tracking deliveries.
Glassons CIO, Chris Reid, explains the new hire: “The reason for Charlie is we realised our target demographic wants instant answers. What better way to deliver that than to use a bot.”
“We operate our customer service team from 7am to 8pm. Now thanks to Charlie, our customers can get an instant response 24 hours a day.”
Ambit co-founder Tim Warren says, “People love to chat. And not just socially. Facebook Messenger is a busier platform than the rest of Facebook itself, and a quarter of that chat involves a business.”
“The challenge for business is how you talk to thousands of customers about hundreds of topics in their language, in their style, and all at the same time. The answer is conversational intelligence.”
Ambit uses AI to teach computers to speak like humans with Natural Language Processing. The bot learns how to understand the intent behind what you say. It then generates a message to solve your problem, and then there’s a feedback mechanism to determine if the intent was met.
Says Reid, “Over time, Charlie will get smarter and smarter, continually developing an understanding of nuances and of what our customers want to talk to her about.” But, not all chatbots are created equal.
“Chatbots are still relatively new and, the truth is, there are some really bad ones. We found Ambit on LinkedIn where one of the founders, Josh Comrie, was talking about bots in a really uncomplicated way that shows how you use chatbots in the real world. They aren’t just coming at it from a tech perspective, they understand business needs and real world applications.”
Earlier this year, Ambit was awarded a position in Vodafone xone, Vodafone’s start-up accelerator and innovation lab, to support its growth plans. Comrie says those plans include expanding from txt to voice, and beyond that into being the “brain” that sits in behind digital avatars or virtual assistants.
Since winning its place on Vodafone xone, Ambit has also won Vodafone as its latest customer.
Says Warren, “We’re creating a virtual member of the HR team for Vodafone who’s going to help their people find the information they need like parental leave, leave balances, and details of benefits and offers available to staff and their families.”
Katie Williams, Vodafone Head of HR Centres of Expertise explains, “Our HR Navigator bot will always have time for each of our people, and will offer a private, secure, personal conversation. The rest of the team will be freed up to focus on supporting and developing our talented staff, while our bot looks after straightforward but often time-consuming questions.”
Ambit’s chatbots are built on their own AI own platform as opposed to ad-hoc builds from the ground up.
“A lot of the functionality is out of the box, much like getting a CRM installed. We co-design the bots with our clients during the initial build phase, and then we provide ongoing turnkey support service. Our platform is a code-free environment designed for use by business people not developers.”
Ambit’s bots are designed to serve businesses with 10,000 or more customers and over 500 staff.
Ambit Co-Founder Josh Comrie says, “Once you have an organisation of scale, you have vital processes that are repetitive. Humans are not great at repetitive tasks, but computers are. Chatbots take the repetitive processes and conversations and simplify them, freeing up your people to address more creative, complex, and higher value tasks.”
Later this month, Glassons’ Charlie will be joined by her Hallensteins counterpart, Benny, also designed by Ambit.