AI and Chatbots: Lessons Learned from AMA Toronto’s Latest Panel



Artificial intelligence is poised to reinvent business in the next few decades. But as of right now, its capabilities are still being developed. Where does that leave marketers?

On Thursday, October 19th, AMA Toronto hosted a discussion where industry leaders delved into what artificial intelligence can and can’t do for business, and how to best deploy it. Here are the biggest lessons our panel had to share.


Start small and test it – Have the necessary data

Josh Kolm, News Editor at Strategy: “This is still new tech. These things need a lot of data to work properly. So if you either don’t give it enough data or haven’t given it enough time to learn, you’re inevitably going to hit that spot where it doesn’t understand the user question or it doesn’t have the right answer. That’s the kind of thing that can really take someone out of the whole experience.”


Fatima Zaidi, VP of Business Development at Eighty-Eight Agency: “I often get asked this question all the time which is oh bots must be so expensive and there are so many limitations when you’re a small organization. And I actually would have to disagree. I think the key is to start small and test the market with a small sample of your customers and if you see a significant ROI and you test it with data and you see that there’s a significant return on investment, then you can look into building something a little bit more customized from the ground up. But there are ways that you can start small like using ChatFuel which is actually quite affordable. It’s like the WordPress for bots. And yeah, you can use ChatFuel and if it works out for you in the end you can do something a little bit more customized on Facebook Messenger or Microsoft.”


Focus and reduce expectations

Alice Watt, Senior Marketing Director at RBC: “You have to be smart about it it’s not going to replace client engagement with somebody face-to-face or on the phone or otherwise.


Tasks or queries that come up again and again are the ones best suited for automation

Fatima Zaidi: “I think the whole point of bots is to automate those simple low hanging fruits and simple tasks to alleviate your work force. I think over time bots are gonna become smarter and smarter thanks to AI and then you can look to completely remove customer service functions.”


Laura Pierce, Head of Consumer Marketing at Twitter: “Think about pain points in the other parts of your business. So, um, you know Nestle has a bot with us in Canada, and it is about making the perfect pizza because that’s one of the most common customer… So if you’re answering the question over and over again and it’s not efficient in the way that you’re doing then that’s a good way to integrate this kind of thing into your overall process. Do you have a pain point that could be easily solved because you have volume against that pain point?”


Ensure getting human help is easy

Laura Pearce: “Can you manage this type of conversation? How quickly could you respond to a consumer once they say I have a question I want answered by a human? So think about phone automation. People press 0 and want a real person so how will you handle that? There are a lot of companies that will put on their Twitter profile you know DM, chat between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. So then people have an expectation of when you can answer. But if you can’t do the full 24 hours round the clock which many companies will not be able to then set those expectations up front and just make sure that you have a plan in the back end for how you’ll address 258 000 messages. Now to be clear most of them were answered by the automation. But there is a point sometimes where the person asks a question that the bot can’t respond to. So how will you deal with that? And I think it’s important just to think through that process.”


Those are just some of the insights our panelists provided into how to harness the growing tools of AI and Chatbots. AMA Toronto is holding more talks. Join us on November 14th for the second part of our “New Face of Marketing” series where an exceptional panel will discuss a broad range of topics detailing the cutting edge from all parts of the industry. Get your tickets here.

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