Helpshift CEO Linda Crawford on the “Marriage between Humans and AI”

By Tracy Oppenheimer

Helpshift CEO Linda Crawford appeared recently alongside Alegion CEO and Founder Nathanial Gates at VentureBeat Transform — a conference focused on the potential impact of digital transformation and the right ways to leverage artificial intelligence today. Crawford and Gates had an engaging conversation about the symbiosis between humans and AI, and provided (somewhat counter-intuitive) insight into how to navigate these technologies for improved communication. Here are some of the main takeaways.

Brands don’t need to go zero to sixty with AI and bots.

Getting started with these technologies may seem daunting, but leveraging AI and bots should be an iterative process. Brands can get started with a “safe” AI like an answer bot for customer service. This bot suggests relevant knowledge articles for customers without any risk of going rogue and responding to a conversation with an irrelevant or inappropriate response. Brands can then take the next step of using bots for strictly collecting information as opposed to trying to fully converse with a customer.

Once these steps are in place, more advanced workflows can be set up. Brands should measure results incrementally, though, as they’ll see both an immediate impact and increased growth in regards to the associated benefits.

Bot transparency will be a short-lived talking point. 

Right now, the question of whether brands should be mandated to disclose when consumers are conversing with a bot is a hot topic. Yet communicating with bots is going to become such an everyday, common occurrence that “bot disclosure” will soon be a non-issue. Leaders in the space shouldn’t get caught up in this hype.

There’s a fine line between proactive and creepy. 

Proactive customer service is great — helping your customers successfully engage with your brand with as little friction as possible is an exemplary use of machine learning. This gets blurry when proactive customer service morphs into arguably creepy marketing. There’s a difference between providing suggestions that will aid the user in his or her journey, and targeted ads that follow the customer around with no clear value.

This panel featuring Crawford and Gates serves as just one example of VentureBeat’s highly engaging discussion platforms that cut straight through the noise — especially when it comes to the future of AI and bots. That’s why Helpshift founder Abinash Tripathy will be appearing on another VentureBeat panel alongside Leslie Joseph of Forrester Research and Credit Karma’s Mitch Lee next month.

Register for VentureBeat’s upcoming webinar, “Why Brands like Amazon are using ‘dumb’ bots for smart service” at 10am PST on Sept. 13, and join the discussion about the bot landscape today and where it’s headed tomorrow!

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