ChatGPT Gets Mixed Customer Service Reviews From Retailers and Brands


Businesses say they are hopeful — but also very cautious — about artificial intelligence-powered chatbot ChatGPT.

Companies see the promise in the technology’s ability to transform customer service, but also worry about the limitations of ChatGPT, created by artificial intelligence (AI) company OpenAI, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Tuesday (Jan. 24).

“We don’t want to be in the bad answer business,” John Willcutts, vice president and general manager of digital at Nice Ltd., a customer-experience software firm, told the WSJ. “A really bad answer in a very critical situation would be a very real problem.”

How would wrong answers occur? According to the WSJ report, it’s because ChatGPT is more likely to give an answer — right or wrong — with total confidence, whereas other chatbots are designed to tell users “I don’t know” when they can’t answer a request.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has cautioned against relying on ChatGPT “for anything important right now.” On Twitter last month, Altman said the tool was “a preview of progress; we have lots of work to do on robustness and truthfulness.”

As of this week, his company has a much larger pool of resources to move that work along, thanks to a multi-billion dollar investment from Microsoft, as PYMNTS reported. In an announcement on its blog, OpenAI said Microsoft’s contribution “will allow us to continue our independent research and develop AI that is increasingly safe, useful, and powerful.”

ChatGPT proved very popular with users when it debuted last year as consumers flocked to test its human-like conversation abilities. The program reportedly helped users pass bar exams and medical license tests, and wrote a paper for an Ivy League business class that earned a “B.”

And the technology is notable for its ability to offer reasonable-sounding answers to most prompts in natural-sounding sentences without scripting, David Truog, a principal analyst dealing in technology and design at Forrester Research, told the WSJ.

Still, he said businesses should be cautious when using ChatGPT: “It’s appropriate to be doing some experimentation, but it’s too early to deploy mission-critical systems based on this.”

As PYMNTS’ Karen Webster wrote earlier this year, the technology behind ChatGPT has the potential for wide-reaching impacts on the retail world, “by synthesizing billions of data points into curated snippets” in an instant.

“Retail sales associates will have tools to build and deliver a highly personalized level of service, whether their encounter with a customer is their first or fiftieth,” wrote Webster. “Stores will have the benefit of keeping that customer because sales delivery will be less about the salesperson and more about the data that provides a consistent service experience regardless of who is on the other end of that transaction.”