At Chartered Developments, we recognise the importance of the human voice. An intelligent and experienced calling team is at the centre of what we offer. There is a perception that developing technology and advances in artificial intelligence will mean that many tasks will be delegated to computers. However it develops, though, AI will struggle to match the personal contact that comes from the experienced and personal telemarketing Chartered Developments offers.
This article explains why – but first, what is the best that AI can offer?
In May 2018, Google announced a new technology aimed at using artificial intelligence to mimic realistic conversations over the phone. The blog they released can be read here:
Listening to the audio samples from calls it is clear that Google Duplex is a groundbreaking system. The clips demonstrate how a computer generated voice can achieve goals over the course of a phone call with a real person including booking a restaurant table for a particular time, scheduling a hairdressing appointment, and enquiring about a business’s opening hours. The system is able to respond to questions, requests for clarification, interruptions. The computer generated voice is also full of human quirks and tics, complete with filler exclamations such as ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ designed to convince the listener they are engaging with a real person.
We have all experienced automated sales calls, what in North America is referred to as the ‘robocall’- when an autodialer is used to deliver a pre-recorded message to a particular set of people. In America this is most notoriously used in political campaigns to target voters.
Google Duplex is different. The ‘intelligence’ part of artificial intelligence means that the system is also able to learn: to react to what is said, to adjust to swerves in conversation and, importantly, to be trained in particular areas. The Duplex calls aren’t simply automated and scripted one-sided performances, they are instead mesmerizingly realistic recreations of conversations.
‘The Google Duplex technology is built to sound natural, to make the conversation experience comfortable.’
‘Comfortable’ is an interesting word for them to use. The key to a phone call with a successful outcome is for the recipient to be put at their ease. Duplex has an extra challenge in this area – it has the hurdle of covering up its own artificiality as well as the ability to respond agilely to a conversation.
Why we aren’t worried about Google Duplex
There is a limit even to this cutting edge system. The examples given are all of the system phoning businesses to make a booking – Duplex, at present, can only operate in “closed domains” — conversations that are functional, with boundaries on what is going to be said. This indicates the intended use for Duplex – as an extension of virtual assistant systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The question remains whether this technology might be used in the field of telemarketing, but this is a far more complex issue.
So what does Chartered Developments offer that an AI system could never match?
- Life experiences of the callers
Our callers all come from professional backgrounds. This means they can connect on a personal level to the prospects they are calling. This connection feeds the conversation, developing a relationship between caller and recipient that is built not just on question and response, but on shared life experience.
- Emotional intelligence
Google Duplex might be able to convincingly mimic a human voice and sustain a basic transactional conversation, but it will be a long time before it can recognise and adapt to the tone of the conversation or to the emotions of the recipient. Even over the phone, a real person can intuitively recognise the emotional timbre of the conversation and an intelligent person can adapt to suit it. Persuasive telemarketing relies on making that emotional connection with the prospect.
Another important way to make a connection with a person in a conversation is through storytelling. This involves tapping into your past experiences and relating them in a way that is both palatable to the recipient and pertinent to the conversation. Metaphor, allegory, satire, pastiche and parody can all be adopted to create stories that can amuse, convince, engage and, ultimately, persuade the recipient. At present, constructing a story that can support and enhance a conversation is a lateral and creative act that is beyond a piece of technology such as Duplex.
Whilst is it a gear change in technology, and the results are convincing (and at times eerie), Duplex is still a limited system. It will be a long time before it is advanced enough to match the nuanced approach of the experienced callers at Chartered Developments.
There is nothing artificial about our intelligence.