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The Argument Against Chatbots

Jay Baer hits the nail on the head in his article at on the issue of chatbots:

With the right programming, chatbots can handle an infinite number of conversations, essentially bringing the cost per interaction as close to zero as possible. While this might bring tears of joy to the average CFO, customers are crying for a completely different reason.

The never ending struggle between Customer Support and Marketing.  While CS commonly would tell you it’d be a great business, if it weren’t for all the darned customers, the problem is that on the marketing side we’re actually trying to get and keep those customers. CS is often the wheel on which this nut gets cracked, certainly in terms of retention.

So even though I like the idea of a smartly coded bot to handle the simple interactions, the marketer in me screams “you’re wasting a customer contact!”.  This is often one of the few chances you have to interact directly with the customer.  Do you really want to entrust that to a chatbot?

So there is the question for you: are you willing to let a chatbot answer the call when your customer wants to talk?


I Love Problems

It’s true.  I like problems because I’m the kind of guy who will inevitably find either someone with a solution, or who will roll up his sleeves and find or make a solution himself.

That’s the real thing I like about MarTech as well.  At it’s core, it’s got to be a solution to a problem you’ve got, otherwise it’s worthless.  When I’m working with my team, I’m inevitably asking them “but what problem does this solve?”

You would be shocked how many times there’s no good answer to that question.

A few years ago I worked with an incredibly talented engineer who had a knack for identifying new technology and committing to it.  He’d build a new functionality for one of our systems, then flit off to the next great thing, often leaving the company with a crucial function built on technology that had hit a dead end.  Meanwhile he’d be pitching the CTO on some new tech for some other system that likely didn’t need it.

The problem was, everyone got caught up in his enthusiasm. They asked “can we” instead of “should we” and in the end, we rebuilt/replaced virtually everything the guy had built much sooner than we should have, because it was obsolete and un-maintainable.

He cost us a fortune over the couple years I knew him.

So let’s remember to ask the right questions before we commit to the flavor of the month in tech:

  • What problem will it solve?
  • Is that really a problem we need to solve?
  • Is there a better way?
  • Will I hate myself in the morning for this decision?

Think about it…

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