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ConnectWise’s bot controversy has providers unnerved

A tale from Reddit.

A former guest on the show, Jason Slagle, reported messages from “Ashley Cooper of ConnectWise” sending out email messages as follow-ups from the recent IT Nation event.   As the name is the same as another known figure in the IT community, Jason researched – and confirmed with employees that this Ashley Cooper is “a conversational AI to manage basic interactions with prospects/partners.”

A bot.

Of note, a fake profile of Ashley had been created on LinkedIn, which is a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service.      

Amy Lucia, ConnectWise CMO, posted in the MSPGeek slack a statement, which I’ve pulled a segment of:

ConnectWise implemented a virtual sales assistant (bot technology) which directs any email respondents to a real person for further conversation in response to partner feedback asking us to respond to email inquiries faster. The creation of a friendly persona and profile to represent the virtual assistant was an experiment many companies explore, and we built ours following the guidance of our third-party vendor. The name chosen was purely coincidental (I’ve reviewed the email trail on that), but we have personally apologized to the real Ashley Cooper—there is only one Ashley Cooper, and we are grateful for her leadership in this community. It is not uncommon for marketing teams to use various AI and automation-assisted technologies in their communications.

My request for comment went unanswered.

Why do we care?

There have been several hot takes on this one.    Bots are becoming a part of the way service is handled.    It’s the deception to focus on.   Great lengths were taken to make this one seem like a person versus bots like Siri or Google Assistant, and for me, that’s the reason to care.   

ConnectWise isn’t wrong to say it’s a common practice.   The lesson here is about transparency.  If you’re in the business of building trust, be transparent with your use of the technology.    When any deception is exposed, that becomes the story rather than investments in making customer service better.