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To chat or to have a conversation

There has been a lot of hype about conversational commerce. Many say that this will be the future of how people will interact with technology. In question, however, is how will technology be able to understand us and respond? Of course we should be able to talk to technology, like we do with other humans. One can see how brands have embraced this idea by creating bots with cute names like Jessie, Kensho or Zo. They are given human-like appearances and irritate us with their human-like behavior. In a recent consumer survey, 53% responded that chatbot software is ineffective. I agree that bots are down-right irritating.

Most consumers interact with technology for specific reasons. Often it is just because one is bored and wants to have some fun. Technology is developed well to serve this purpose using all kinds of input. The applications that do well to serve humans rarely use conversation as an interface. In addition, technology is also often used to communicate with other humans. Using a type of conversation that we all now refer to as “chat” is the main way that we interact with technology to communicate with other humans. This technology enables us to be direct and authentic, and has  morphed into something that does not really look like human language. We all get it,  it works for all of us, and we have all come accustomed to referring to this technology and utilizing “chat”.

When people interact with technology to get stuff done, like check a balance, purchase a ticket or pay a bill, they are generally not interested in having a conversation. They hate to explain themselves and repeat the same thing. It irritates them if they have to drop one conversation and start another from the beginning to complete a task. They hate chatbots trying to be nice and cute, especially ones that try to be entertaining and funny. What they want to do is just get the task done. They know they are not talking to a human. If they could use a short code, or an abbreviation, or a string of characters and get it done even faster, they would be happy. In essence, they want to chat with a brand.

I believe most consumers don’t want to develop a relationship with a bot by striking up a conversation. They just want to have as short a chat as possible to complete a defined task like “Hi! Buy. Bye.”




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