Smart Automation

November 30, 2019

Companies the world over are using AI to automate more and more of their business processes. Digital South Africa takes a look at how some companies use the technology in their customer relationship management (CRM) in the article, “How AI Is Helping Brands Manage their Online Reputation.” Reporter Ashleigh Wainstein notes advantages include improved efficiency, error reduction, and detailed performance analyses. She writes:

“Customers are warming to the idea of artificial intelligence because it provides a way to get quick responses. Review responses can be semi-automated through NLP and AI but it is important to always have a human eye to ensure 100% accuracy and personalization. It’s important that there is some customizable wording in the response to the customer, but much of the information can be automated. It’s also important to have strategic keywords and elements in your review responses and software can ensure these elements are dynamically added, making the responses feel personalized and relevant to the rating and review.”

We are cautioned, however, to never automate responses to bad reviews or complaints. Leaving a bot to handle negative comments could easily spiral into a PR nightmare. Wainstein also observes automation must be adapted to business sectors and regions. In South Africa, for example, they have a lot of local slang on top of 11 official languages. She and her team chose the newly open sourced Google Bert, which she says uses a wider range of contextual words and natural language for more accurate results. They have trained it with their own data on South African language quirks.

Third-party APIs can be used to automate reporting, which saves time and reduces human error. We are reminded:

“Reports can be produced on anything from impressions, clicks and calls to reviews, review scores, social media posts and bookings stats. Generally, anything that’s quantifiable and that’s available to analyze, can be aggregated, counted and automated. Any measurable digital marketing stats are generally available through third-party APIs (application programming interfaces). An API is a link between two sites, for example between ours and Facebook, Google or TripAdvisor’s – which allows you to pass information back and forth.”

Wainstein closes by reiterating that, though automation can greatly benefit companies, it is important not to go too far. Maintaining the human touch is important, and not just when fielding criticisms. Each company will have to find its own balance.

Cynthia Murrell, November 30, 2019


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