Tuesday, March 6, 2018

For Bots Sake--What the Heck are "Bots"????

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"Bot" is short for "robot" and refers to automated software that resides in almost everything we buy and use these days, from cars to phones to refrigerators and stoves.  Bots can be good bots or bad bots depending on who designs them.  (If you haven't watched the 1968 movie "2001, A Space Odyssey" recently, you should.  Hal is a bot who started good and turned bad.)  Bots are really lines of computer code that reside in the software programs and devices that we use every day.  If you order a Lyft or Uber car, there's a bot residing on your cell phone showing you exactly where the car is and when it will arrive. Bots are the result of programmers trying to make computers intelligent.Some bots reside within apps, but slowly and surely, bots are replacing apps.What does all this mean for us sales folks and business owners?Well, Chatbots are the wave of the future and we need to know about them.  Siri, Google Home and Alexa are chatbots.  We ask questions, they listen and “understand” and respond.Facebook Messenger will be incorporating a chatbot into their system.  The future is coming fast.  This is the Internet of Things (IofT).  This is the digitization of everything. What to do?  What to do?The first thing is to be aware of what's going on.  The second thing is to know that there are bad bots that can do bad things, like infiltrate your computers or spread lies about your company.But good bots (“Chatbots”)  are coming closer and closer to simulating human intelligence.  Chatbots have already begun taking over customer service jobs, scheduling service and maintenance, scheduling orders and calling customers to tell them their order status.  To quote Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame: “I don’t know anyone who likes calling a business. And no one wants to have to install a new app for every business or service that they interact with. We think you should be able to message a business, in the same way, you would message a friend.”  
Should we worry?
Interactive chatbots will be programmed to ask questions when a customer calls.  For example, if there is a chatbot programmed for an air compressor sales operation, the chatbot would be programmed to ask a caller questions like:  "What size is your current compressor?  Do you think you need more air?  What voltage do you have at your location?" ...and so on and so forth, until the chatbot is ready to quote, place the order and continue following the order to shipment.  
Over and over again, I have preached product knowledge and persistence as the keys to success in sales.  It's going to become more and more critical that we sales folks, and anyone interacting with customers, have to be smarter than the bots.  Our product knowledge cannot be superficial and artificial.
BE SMARTER THAN A BOT!More about the Internet of Things in my Friday post.
Please feel free to make comments or suggestions. 

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