Several banks have now introduced their chatbots, automated digital assistants to help serve customers. These have become an effective tool for banks as they have contributed to reducing costs, especially for larger companies. As they are put in place of human call center employees, banks are saving up to $7.3 billion in operating expenses.
These chatbots are proving to be quite useful for several industries. However, there was one pattern observed that caused a bit of a stir.
It was seen that almost all of the bots had female names, which raises an issue on gender stereotyping and whether or not this might cultivate an idea of women as assistants. This was already previously raised with Siri from Apple and Alexa from Amazon.
And now, at least three of the top ten biggest European banks have also launched a female chatbot for their apps and websites.
There is Debbie from Deutsche Bank, Amy from HSBC, and Inga ING who is characterized as a bot that responds to customers’ needs with empathy. There is another bot from Facebook named Marie because it was said to invoke a friendly and helpful image.
Chatbot gender has become an issue especially because these assistants’ tasks are work that are seen as menial.
Specialists have also said that although the intention of assigning female names to these digital assistants is to make them more approachable for customers it might also set expectations for women that are unrealistic, like how women should project themselves from a professional standpoint.
This is now the issue at hand that companies need to take into consideration, there needs to be a balance between attracting customers and launching automated services.
Chatbots also shape people’s perception of a company, so it also important to keep a personal touch to maintain a connection with the customers that is as human as possible.
It might also be beneficial to create more male chatbots and digital assistants. Seth Suarez, an AI engineer from Redmond, was compelled to this idea upon realizing that service-based bots are typically female and the male bots are used for intelligence-based service.
He also mentioned that chatbots should ideally be used only for robotic tasks, or tasks that are not too complicated. And the more complex problems should still be left at the hands of humans.