Will Bots Replace Community Managers?

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is swift becoming a fundamental part of today’s world, showing up in more and more daily activities. AI plays a role in every interaction with a program or machine exhibiting behaviors we consider intelligent, from data analysis to pattern identification to prediction.

AI is at work every time Facebook auto-tags a friend in a photo using image recognition, Google Maps gives us real-time traffic info, Netflix recommends us movies based on our interests, or we communicate with a brand online and a chatbot responds.

This last example in particular — communication bots on brands’ websites — has many of us questioning the future of some human workers, like community managers and call center representatives. If a bot can understand the needs of users and offer much faster, more precise solutions, then can it totally supplant the human aspects of these services?

Within the field of community management, bots can already make the website experience smoother and easier, redirecting users to pages that answer their queries, classifying different types of comments or feedback, welcoming new users, recommending content, responding to specific questions, identifying categories of users, and so on. All these tasks would take up a lots of time if we decided to do them manually day to day, and yes, in this case, time is money.

Although some argue that machines will entirely replace humans in these activities at some point, others see AI and automation as functions that support the real people performing the tasks, reducing the time it takes for a worker to do their job. In either case, these processes should be created and managed by people, responsible for both technological and communicational aspects.

These days, when a person communicates with a brand and receives a chatbot’s response, it’s usually obvious that they’re not talking to a person. Sometimes, this can have negative repercussions for a brand, as the user may feel a sense of mistrust or disconnect if a bot comes in at the wrong moment.

This, among other arguments defending the necessity of human interaction to foster a close brand-user relationship, remains valid today. But perhaps in the not-so-distant future, this human-bot difference will be almost undetectable, or introduced in a different way that makes the user more comfortable, weakening the argument for the “irreplaceable” quality of human-run customer service.

The debate goes on, and will continue to evolve along with shifting variables. What do you think will happen? Will bots replace community managers?

 

Eilén Vázquez

Community Manager