What chatbots struggle with

Toby MacLachlan, 13 March 2020

Ignite launched a chatbot facility early this year for our brokers. It’s been an eye-opener. People have come at poor old Iggy (the Ignite chatbot) with all sorts of puzzlers. Top entries include: “does it have like claims on it?”, “Am I going to France?” and “I didn’t receive the discount mentioned by Amber”. Amber doesn’t work for the broker. No one knows who Amber is. Let alone chip-for-a-brain Iggy.

Why do a chatbot?

Our clients – brokers – field lots of calls and live chat requests. Answering these queries definitely costs money, and only sometimes makes money. They’re also only available during office hours. So, to save the broker money and offer a 24/7 service we decided to set up a chatbot.

How do you decide what a chatbot should do?

To make the chatbot relevant to the broker we have them jot down the subject of their calls and live chats for a month, then categorise them by type of query. Those that can be automated (e.g. what is the cancelation fee?) are taught to the chatbot, and those that can’t we push through to the call centre.

How does the chatbot work?

Iggy is a natural language AI learning chatbot – if he doesn’t understand things we teach him how to respond until he can work it out for himself. The more we teach him the better he gets.

What functions does the chatbot do?

The chatbot’s primary function is to answer frequently asked questions. It can also interact with the customer’s data (if they’re logged in) to tell them details about their policy. It can direct the customer to the dashboard where they can amend, cancel and renew.

How good is it?

Iggy answers about 50% of all questions before they reach live chat or the call centre. Imagine that…a little helper that fields over 50% of all your calls. Could be handy that.

What does the chatbot struggle with?

Iggy is very good at noticing spelling mistakes, catching keywords and admitting when he hasn’t got the foggiest. He struggles with questions like these:

  • “I’m not sure how much a quote is”
  • “If my wife is pregnant can she drive”
  • “Are you related to Yogi bear?”

You can only teach a machine so much…

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