MONDAY 19 MAR 2018 4:49 PM


Chatbots and artificial intelligence are of increasing interest for businesses engaging in e-commerce, customer service and content delivery. This results in human interaction becoming less necessary and therefore people becoming more dispensable.

Following the trend, Lidl UK has launched an innovative customer service initiative in the form of a fully-automated, AI-powered, Facebook Messenger chatbot, a computer programme designed to conduct a conversation via auditory or textual methods.

Lidl’s new chatbot, named Margot, is designed to be a virtual wine consultant for UK customers that can be easily accessed through the Facebook Messenger app, an app with over one billion users worldwide, as a means to appeal to a wider audience.

Margot has been programmed to resemble a relaxed and cheerful persona, with the ability to answer questions like, “Which red wines from Chile under £6 do you sell?”, “What goes well with grilled salmon?” and, “What makes a wine sweet?” Extra features of Margot include an interactive wine quiz that promotes further brand engagement and customer interaction in a fun, more personal manner.

However, it is somewhat ironic that Lidl has chosen to use a computer programme with the goal of achieving more personal connections. If anything, it raises the question of what the future holds in terms of technology, and more specifically artificial intelligence, for corporate organisations and the communications industry.

Although Lidl’s new tool is interesting, jobs being assigned to computer programmes can be worrying, especially when the vast majority that are now being taken over by technology are traditionally people-centred. With computer programmes having the ability to be omnipresent, easily accessible, quick and personalised, ‘personal touch’ is a term that in a few years’ time will no longer be.

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