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Deep Dive: Chatbots and conversational AI struggle to keep up during pandemic

  • AI and chatbots have been vaunted as customer service solutions for years.
  • But the pandemic showed just how far these tools are from really making a difference for customers.
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Deep Dive: Chatbots and conversational AI struggle to keep up during pandemic

Call volumes into banks have gone up 10x during the pandemic. Wait times have been hours at the peak of the crisis. Chatbots and other forms of conversational AI have been deployed to help. But they’re not quite there yet.

Tearsheet’s Sara Toth Stub recently wrote a story about where chatbots are useful and where they aren’t. After a lot of hype, they are providing some real value but it will be years before the technology approaches human customer service reps.

Sara Toth Stub is my guest today for a deep dive podcast to discuss what’s happening inside the customer service queue in leading banks and financial institutions.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Why the interest in chatbots now?

I was actually speaking to the Kabbage co-founder Kathryn Petralia about a month ago about the PPP loan program. She mentioned then that they were overwhelmed with the call volume. The company needed to rely on automation to manage all that. I began to see it as a trend.


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