My business revolves around conversation. Talking directly to clients, delivering keynote speeches and catching up with members of the audience afterwards, talking to you guys right now and in the comments section
It’s chat, chat, chat, and I love it. It’s the best way to truly connect with people, to find out what makes them tick, and to find out how I can help.
It’s also why I’m so interested in chatbots and experts’ claims that chatbot computer programs can “simulate and process human conversation, either written or spoken, allowing humans to interact with digital services as if they were communicating with a real person.”
As if they were communicating with a real person…that’s a bold claim, right? And it’s a claim that, if it’s true, is likely to revolutionize our vital business conversations.
So here’s what I want to know: are chatbots living up to the hype?
If you’ve caught the last three episodes of Chatbot Theater you’ll know not everyone is nailing the whole chatbot craze. So I’m back at the Doghouse Theater in Delray Beach, Florida, to see if my next chatbot example is any closer to the mark.
As ever I’m joined by genius improv comedy duo, Free Tacos, who’ve agreed to work from a script, and read one of my real-life chatbot conversations.
Chatbot: Hi there, looking to find a new home?
Drew: Not sure…Yes.
Chatbot: I'd be happy to tell you more. Home buyers can put their faith in us knowing we put that out in front of the crowd. It's using new innovations, new designs, new experiences, and new conveniences to home every home. How can I help you today?
Drew: I would like to speak to a new home specialist. I would like to learn more about Trendmaker Homes. I'd like to learn more about financing, I'd like to know more about LivingSmart, I'd like to learn more about Trendmaker Homes.
Chatbot: Great, four decades ago inspired by the Texas families we build homes for, we started something. We envisioned a new home buying experience. It would be simple and straightforward. Click here to learn more. Would you like to speak with someone about finding a new home?
Drew: Yes, please. I'd like to read some more content first. I'd like to read more context first.
Chatbot: Okay! You can read the latest Pardee Home New and Trends here. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Drew: I'd like to speak to someone. I'd like to browse available homes, I'm all set. I'm all set.
Chatbot: Well, thanks for chatting with us. You can browse our available homes here. If you have any other questions, please visit our website or chat back here.
Well, Loyalty Loopers, what do you think? You’ll remember from the last few Chatbot Theater episodes we’re judging the chatbot conversations on our very own robot-human scale, where the robotyist robot scores a lowly 1, and 10 is reserved for a robot that’s so incredibly human you’ve already imagined its entire back story. Let me know in the comments where you’d place Trendmaker Homes.
Four episodes in, and I still haven’t found a chatbot that can measure up — I’m reluctant to give this one more than a two on the robot-human scale. But, once again, I’d say there are three simple things that Trendmaker Homes could implement to score much higher.
The pacing in this conversation was way off; it feels like the bot is just vomiting content on us as quickly as possible. In fact, it’s so fast that I can’t even keep up in the chat window, I have to scroll back up to read it. Real conversations just don’t go down like that.
Yup, this chatbot is just spouting out marketing information that sounds like it’s been cut and pasted from the company’s About Us page. I get it, they’re excited about their business, their history, and their whole ethos, but marketing speak is a big turnoff when you’re speaking to an actual human so it certainly isn’t gonna fly in a chatbot conversation!
And finally, they need to re-engineer the whole conversation because this bot just isn’t listening. There’s no empathy. It just doesn’t seem to care.
A real conversation is a two-way street: you ask questions and you adapt your response to be relevant to the answer you’re given. At least you should! But here, I feel like I’m given the same options no matter what I say.
Now, over to you guys: what advice would you give to Trendmaker Homes? Can you think of anything they could do to make their bot just a little bit better, a little closer to feeling like a real human? Let me know in the comments — let’s connect and start a real conversation!
Well, that’s it for Chatbot Theater so give it up for my friends Free Tacos. They’ve been awesome!
But, while we’re done with the theater, we’re not quite finished with the bots. Tune in to next week’s Loyalty Loop and I’ll introduce you to a chatbot that’s so powerful, people actually think it’s human…even though it was invented 50 years ago! You’re not going to want to miss that one, so subscribe now.