When A.I. gets frustrating

Don’t fall into the trap of using the fast and lazy AI option and what is it.

Topic – Making technology work for you

Mentor – James Bell

  • Chat Bot is level 1
  • Real A.I. learns
  • Protect your turf


Kevin:   Hi. Once again, James Bell is my guest all this week on REUNCUT as we talk about the highlights, what he’s seeing here at Inman Connect in New York. James, let’s talk about AI. Now, artificial intelligence is really … that’s what AI is.

James:   Correct. Yeah.

Kevin:   So, tell me what it is, what you’re seeing, and where is it going.

James:   Look, I think from the discussions I’ve seen here at Inman, there’s two avenues of it. The first one that I’ve seen is more of a relationship-building artificial intelligence, and the other one is the chatbot side of things. So two different ends of the AI experience.

Kevin:   Can I just ask you there? I think the chatbot is at a much lower level. It’s really only pre-programmed for certain answers. Isn’t it?

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   It’s not all that intelligent.

James:   No, no. Look, I think it’s more of a convenience. We spoke yesterday about the consumer-

Kevin:   It’s a first-level contact.

James:   It’s a first-level contact, and I guess what it should do is lead onto the ability for whoever’s using the chatbot to be able to make contact afterwards. But yeah. In terms of what I’ve been able to pick up, it’s very much at a basic level. You’re correct. And if there’s an answer that’s not pre-programmed in, well it’s … I suppose it doesn’t have the ability-

Kevin:   It’s lost.

James:   It can’t think outside that square. Yeah.

Kevin:   Yes. It’s a bit like, I think I was on a site the other day that was trying to communicate with me, but it wasn’t intelligent enough to work out that I didn’t know the pin number that it needed, and it was asking for a pin number and would continually come back and say, “Uh oh. Something’s gone wrong here.” And really, I had no way of saying to her, “I don’t know what the pin number is.” I had to go through it three times, unfortunately-

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   … before she then put me in touch with someone else. So, it’s that first line. It’s that first level of intelligence.

James:   Yeah. And it’s funny you say that. I had to contact Qantas about something to do with our flights on the way over-

Kevin:   I think it was Qantas actually.

James:   Was it? Yeah. There you go. And I learnt very quickly with that chatbot, if you just entered something in incorrectly three times, you’d get to move forward to a human.

Kevin:   That’s a frustration though.

James:   It’s very frustrating. Very, very-

Kevin:   So what’s the next level? When does it become intelligent enough to understand that-

James:   I think when AI can use some predictive algorithms, when you’ve got a programme, a piece of software that’s looking at external factors that are happening … I suppose a bit close to me is the artificial intelligence that [inaudible] is using at the moment.

Kevin:   Yeah, RITA. RITA, which we’ve featured a lot in the show.

James:   Correct. And it’s more of a … from what I can see, it’s a predictive algorithm around what’s happening in the marketplace, and it becomes a suggestion engine rather than a reactive-

Kevin:   Yeah, but it’s learning.

James:   It’s learning every single day.

Kevin:   It’s learning every day.

James:   Yeah. And I think that’s the importance about AI is it seems to be in two camps at the moment. It’s either a reactive piece of software, i.e. chatbots, or it’s a proactive, where you’re looking at what’s happening. It’s learning and getting stronger every day.

Kevin:   Right. Well, let’s relate this to real estate now because that’s really where we want to go. ‘Cause I hear a lot of agents talking about chatbots, and I just wonder if that’s the right way to go because if that’s the first line of contact you’re gonna have with someone in trying to build a relationship, and you frustrate that conversation, you’ve probably lost that person forever. Now, you have the ability to go one step further and get a more intelligent line of communication. I sometimes wonder if it’s better with chatbot or the personal contact to start with.

James:   Well, I think, Kevin, you and I have just discussed is our experience with the Qantas chatbot was not the best.

Kevin:   Yeah. But you don’t have a choice in that case. But with real estate, you have lots of choices.

James:   Oh, exactly. And that’s what I mean. If I was put in front of a chatbot in a real estate sense now, the first thing I would do is try and trick it by answering incorrectly three times to see if I could get to speak to a human. So that would be my feelings around it. So if you get frustrated once outside of our industry with a similar technology, it could be drawn in.

Kevin:   Let’s think about that because going back a decade or so, even … I don’t want to show my age here, but it may be even more than that, but when someone would ring an office, some agents thought it would be clever to never be available, to always try and capture the phone number.

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   You know, “James in not available just now. Can I get him to call you? What number’s more appropriate?” Whether or not you’re available, it would always be the same.

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   And I think consumers caught onto that very quickly, and they became frustrated, which means they probably never called you back again.

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   I think we’ve gotta be careful here that chatbots don’t take us in the same direction.

James:   I agree, Kevin. And I think a part of my role that I do on a day-to-day basis, for every 100 agents I contact, and I don’t say where I’m from. I might just say, “Hi. It’s James. I just wondered if you could give me a quick call.” The statistics of a call-back is actually alarming. I’d only get 10 or 15 calls back from 100 people I contact in our industry. That’s a frustration for me, and I’m business-to-business.

Kevin:   In our industry?

James:   In our industry.

Kevin:   Not consumers.

James:   In our industry. And the thing is, Kevin, they don’t know that I’m not a consumer. They don’t know that I’m not thinking of selling.

Kevin:   Wow. 10%?

James:   10 to 15% maximum.

Kevin:   Yeah. Therein lies a big lesson. And we talked a couple of days ago about just doing it. Why don’t we do the simple things like just returning the phone calls?

James:   Simple.

Kevin:   How much business is slipping through our fingers? Yet we’re the first to complain about raids in our industry or third-party sites coming in and so on, when we should be protecting our own turf.

James:   Yeah. Exactly right. Yeah.

Kevin:   Great lesson for today. We’ll leave it there. James, come back again. And James Bell is sharing his thoughts from Inman Connect in New York, and we’ll be back again tomorrow morning.

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