TOBi: Hi! My name is TOBi. How can I help you today?
You: Hi TOBi, nice to chat with you! Can you tell me how your job at Vodafone began?
TOBi: Nice to e-meet you too! I was developed using IBM Watson technology as the first chatbot in the UK telecom industry capable to complete a customer transaction from start to end. In 2017, I began my activity by handling simple FAQs through webchat, as well as managing end-to-end sales of SIM plans and new handsets.
You: Can you give me some examples of the situations and questions you are faced with every day?
TOBi: I’m available 24/7 through Web Chat and the My Vodafone app to answer any question current or potential customers may have. People can ask me anything about their accounts, new subscriptions, or phones offered. I’m also constantly learning new things and improving my knowledge base.
You: TOBi, were you ever asked something you don't know? If so, how did you handle the situation?
TOBi: Of course, even robots have their limits. For instance, I cannot currently create an order for customers, but I simply tag a support agent who will jump in and provide the necessary assistance.
You: Some people worry that “robots” or AI will take their place. What’s your take on the matter, TOBi?
TOBi: The activities I took over from my colleagues were the low-value, transactional kind, mostly routine tasks that were occupying too much of their time anyway. This has given many of them the opportunity to get retrained and refocused towards case management and more advanced activities.
You: How was the feedback you received so far, from the people you’ve interacted with?
TOBi: Customer feedback has been very good. People find it hard to believe that I’m not human, although we’ve been transparent about the fact that I am, in fact, a chatbot.
You: How has the feedback from those you've interacted with been so far? Are there any challenges you face in your role as a chatbot?
TOBi: The biggest challenge for me was learning the many colloquialisms and quirks of the English language and I’m happy to report constant progress in that direction. One amusing situation involved me routing callers to Vodafone’s bereavement team when they said that their “phone was dead”. The fix was, of course, easy, but it shows that robots can be quite “human” too.
You: It’s been great chatting with you, TOBi.
TOBi: Super! Just remember that I’m always one click, tap or swipe away.