Does your business rely on complicated processes and rules when dealing with customers? Do you feel that you need to constantly recruit highly trained staff to grow the company? If you answered yes to these questions, then you should think again.
Software has now advanced to the point where customers can interact with chatbots in plain English and receive answers to complicated issues.
One of the most prominent examples of this technology is a service called DoNotPay. DoNotPay is a chatbot that can answer a wide range of legal issues in the USA and UK.
People use the service by typing questions in plain English. For example, you might ask the chatbot, “how do I get a refund for a cancelled flight?” DoNotPay would then respond with several options, including letters that can be sent to airlines.
DoNotPay promotes itself as the world’s first robot lawyer. It was started in 2015 by an 18-year-old computer science student to help people dispute parking fines. DoNotPay was free when it launched but has since adopted a low-cost subscription service and is valued at US$200 million.
The development of DoNotPay is fascinating because it highlights how automation can replace highly trained people. For example, many lawyers charge for advice based on relatively well-documented and straightforward processes.
However, rules-based processes are easily automated, and when combined with a chatbot, services like DoNotPay provide a similar level of service as a junior lawyer.
The automation of simple legal advice shows how technology can free up highly trained people. There are many other examples where a computer can handle rules-based knowledge work.
This is especially relevant in New Zealand for three reasons.
Firstly, with closed borders, there is a shortage of skilled workers. A talent drought means that leaders need to think carefully about the most effective use of highly trained people. Does it make sense to have talented people simply following rules and processes, or could this be automated?
Secondly, Aotearoa currently has the lowest birthrate on record. There will be a shortage of people entering the workforce, which means that some jobs will need to be automated. For example, a chatbot handling simple customer interactions could free up a team of people that would otherwise work in a call centre.
Lastly, New Zealand has a very low rate of productivity. This means that kiwis work longer hours for less money than many other countries. Leveraging technology such as chatbots frees up people to work on more complex issues.
For example, if a law firm had a commercial equivalent of DoNotPay, it would be able to use junior staff on novel tasks that required face to face client interaction. That sort of work not only needs a human touch but also has higher margins.