(This column originally appeared in Forbes)
Much has been written and discussed about ChatGPT this past week since its creator, a nonprofit organization called OpenAI, released a working version to the public.
ChatGPT is a chatbot where a visitor can ask questions in their natural language and the artificial intelligence behind it not only finds answers on the Internet (in addition to whatever database it’s connected to) but delivers the answers in a conversational form. More importantly (and fun) a visitor can then engage the application in further discussions based on prior responses.
But aren’t you already doing this in a Google search? Yes…and no. Sure you can search on Google for the answer to questions. But Google will then deliver you pages of links to articles. ChatGPT actually responds to you like there’s a human on the other end conversing…and then it can start doing stuff too.
“The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests,” the research body said in a statement last week.
Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, told The Guardian that the system was “an early demo of what’s possible”” and promised that “soon you will be able to have helpful assistants that talk to you, answer questions, and give advice. Later you can have something that goes off and does tasks for you. Eventually you can have something that goes off and discovers new knowledge for you.”
Want to see it in action? Go here and sign up. It’s pretty cool. So cool that countless people in the tech community are falling over themselves with excitement about the platform’s speed, depth, easy-to-use interface and potential.
But hold on here…is this all a little overhyped?
I played with the tool for a while and it’s certainly entertaining. But for now it just seemed like it was regurgitating results from a search, with a little AI thrown in to make it sound conversational. To me the experience was not unlike asking your Alexa to give you an answer, which it does in a robotic delivery that feels like it’s reading a Wikipedia entry.
I realize that others are pushing ChatGPT much further, and with impressive results. The tool is able to write social posts, blogs and do other creative things and people are pretty amazed. So that’s cool too. But for now, the technology is still in its infancy. It’s getting a lot of attention at a time when the tech industry is bumbling through controversy, consolidation, layoffs, a serious economic downturn and financing challenges. Everyone there is looking for good news and ChatGPT provides it.
And although it’s over-hyped now, the future for conversational AI tech like ChatGPT does seem exciting. This is a column about CRM, so let me lay out a few things that’s coming — sooner than you think — as the technology matures and more developers become proficient in creating apps based on its underlying open architecture.
A conversational customer service agent.
Imagine a robot that uses up to date information and data to help customers solve problems like a human customer service rep. Chatbots in use today are very immature and are limited in capability, perhaps saving a few keystrokes of time. ChatGPT’s conversational AI will one day literally eliminate customer service people other than those dealing with the most complex problems. It will act and sound human…and be smarter than humans too.
A powerful database and content creator.
Today’s CRM systems log tickets and incidents in a customer’s history that can be accessed by reps if the problem occurs again…hopefully. ChatGPT can be told to leap on these problems and immediately create internal readable knowledge base articles, blogs and posts that can better inform both customers and employees about a problem and its fixes. Another big potential is that, if you give ChatGPT some instructions (i.e., “create a user manual that explains how to setup our product and configure it for optimal security”) the application will do just that…and potentially written better than a human.
A 24/7 marketing team.
A conversational AI platform like ChatGPT can independently write brochures and make posts on social media based on directions your marketing executives give. It will not only send out marketing campaign emails but will soon be able to write them for you and target them to the appropriate audience. You’ll be able to tell the software in advance what you’d like to send and on what topic and the AI tool will do the rest. Say so long to low-level marketing people.
Enhanced and ever-changing online assets.
You can also say goodbye to out-of-date websites, profiles and pages. ChatGPT can be told to review your online presence daily like your website and social assets and make changes to your content based on prior content, new products or other directions you give it in advance. The same goes for your e-commerce store.
More intuitive pricing.
ChatGPT can adjust the online sales prices of your products based on demand, supply, discounts, customer behavior and other factors. It can converse with prospects and customers that have buying questions and offer discounts along a structure that you provide. Uber gets to have all the fun with their surge pricing. When this AI tool becomes more widely available any company will be able to do the same.
A better way to gauge customer sentiment.
Some of the more advanced CRM applications are offering sentiment analysis AI, but ChatGPT should be able to do this faster, more affordably and (most importantly) in an open environment that can be customized. It will ultimately be able to listen to conversations, read emails and peruse notes in order to alert management in advance of any customers that are not feeling love about a company or product.
A quicker and more targeted field service dispatch.
ChatGPT will be able to look at calendars and automatically schedule technicians to call or visit customer locations based on where they’re located, what the issue is and the skill level of the technician or team. No more scheduling manager. No more whiteboards and dry erase markers.
I’ve got even more stuff to share. However, my editors are going to get mad at me for writing too long a post. Hopefully you get the point.
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Today, ChatGPT is over-hyped. But tomorrow…it won’t be. These are still early days for this kind of technology. Deep learning like this needs years of repetitive training and hardware processing still needs to catch up. It’s going to take a while for machine-learning AI technology to learn, adapt and be more accurate and reliable.
And let’s also admit that conversational AI is not really new. So why is everyone so hyped? Because it’s open sourced which means it’s technology that will be available to all developers, big and small. It’s exciting to think that there will be a new generation of technology companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere that will be able to develop excellent CRM applications based on conversational AI tech like ChatGPT which can be used by even the smallest of businesses. There’s a lot of opportunity to make a lot of money.
That’s exciting for a tech industry that is in great need of a boost right now. Which is why ChatGPT is a little over-hyped today. However, I do believe it will catch up to this hype very soon.