Alibaba’s Customer Interaction: A Misstep?

Chinese technology giant Alibaba has announced its plans to roll out its own AI chatbot product called Tongyi Qianwen. The chatbot will be similar in style to Open AI’s famous ChatGPT, and will be both capable of working in English as well as Chinese.

Another AI advancement is great – so what’s the problem? Alibaba has stated that initially it will be added to DingTalk, Alibaba’s workplace messaging app. It will perform a number of tasks including turning conversations in meetings into written notes, writing emails and drafting business proposals, the company said. Essentially, the chatbot will be used for direct customer interaction via message and email – and that’s where potential problems lie.


Should chatbots be used instead of humans for customer service?

Long has there been a debate whether AI or machine learning algorithms can be used to replace humans in customer service and support roles.

Well according to Forrester this year, 50% of consumers said they often feel frustrated after their interactions with chatbots and nearly 40% of these interactions were said to be negative experiences.

Customer experience (CX) is a priority for all businesses in 2023 as we continue with hybrid workforces and virtual customer service across omni touchpoints. Maintaining a positive CX is vital, and AI just can’t yet deliver what a human agent can.

Because of the lack of emotional understanding and psychological intelligence, chatbots can’t resolve service and support issues as effectively. Efficiency is key, but not when effectiveness and satisfaction levels decrease.

As the demand for more personal CX increases, AI will become a powerful tool for customer service. The key difference here is that AI will empower humans. With exponential continuous learning, memory and self-optimisation, AI will learn the best way to support humans, but in its current form it should not replace them. Here’s where Alibaba are making a huge mistake.


Alibaba’s customer interaction blunder

Alibaba are actively replacing a human role with a robot. AI is effectively going to become part of the front-line of its customer service workforce.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last two decades, Alibaba is a Chinese multinational technology company, with over 250,000 employees worldwide, servicing most of the planet in the B2B space. It provides e-commerce, retail, internet, and technology products to many organisations across the globe.

Amazon focuses on B2C and D2C, whereas Alibaba is the chosen provider for the B2B space. It effectively provides an online marketplace for products and materials that can be repackaged, rebranded, used, or resold by businesses.

With a potential forthcoming drop in customer satisfaction due to ‘frustration’ and ‘negative experiences’, Amazon could continue intruding on the B2B marketplace space.

Alibaba may have just made a huge customer interaction blunder.

With such negative consumer perceptions of chatbots, the signalling of its use may cause equal disruption and loss in trust, even before we get to the actual implementation and usage.

Any business perceived to cost cut in customer service takes a reputational hit. It’s one of the most important elements of trust. If a consumer, or business contact in this case, can’t get through or has trouble finding the answer they require, not only do they get frustrated, but they lose faith in the business’ ability to help them at a more macro level. Customer service is what drives a consumer’s perceived value of a product, and if this drops, so does the tangible value of a product.

Yes, AI is set to enhance the customer service sector and the wider business world as a whole.

A recent report by investment bank Goldman Sachs estimated that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs.

“could replace” being the operative phrase there.

AI can speak to customers directly and handle basic requests, but it shouldn’t be the front-line. Human agents should use it to work smarter and utilise its learning capabilities to sort and categorise requests. But AI shouldn’t be the one responding. Most requests are anomalies and although they can be similar and easily categorised as a certain vertical, sector or support issue, an emotional intelligence is required to understand the full context.


Using AI and data analytics together to improve CX

The combination of AI and a contextual data-rich dashboard providing a better understanding of each customer, like the single pane of glass dashboard that Liquid Voice provides, gives customer service agents a chance to fulfil a more personalised experience for customers.

By accessing this deep, contextual data, there’s an opportunity to understand problems at an emotional level and resolve them better than a robot ever could. No AI could hope to, at least currently, understand and respond like a human. Many AIs such as ChatGPT claim to pass the Turing Test – a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. But truthfully, we still know the difference. AI cannot yet respond with sympathy or empathy, because it has no emotions of its own. Hence, it should be used to support and empower, not to replace out-right.

Using Liquid Voice’s dashboard brings context, clarity and actionability to customer data. Combine that with additional AI-generated data and advice, and your CX can improve exponentially. Furthermore, this way of handling customer data benefits all business stakeholders through:

💰 Cost reduction

📈 Streamlined processes

❤️ Nurtured supported agents

📊 Simplified compliance monitoring and reporting

🖥️&📱&💬 True omnichannel compatibility

Whether you’re a business manager looking to improve your customer service operations or an agent that feels under pressure, combining the power of AI data and Liquid Voice’s intuitive analytical dashboard simply makes sense. Don’t just replace a human with a robot like Alibaba has. Use a robot to empower your human workforce. It’s the best way forward. Maybe Alibaba should reconsider their customer interaction pivot?

To find out more about the LiquidVoice Single Pane of Glass Dashboard or chat to us about compliance and analytics solutions, get in touch! We promise a human expert will respond to your question… not a robot!