When a computer speaks institutional talk: Exploring challenges and potentials of virtual assistants in face-to-face advisory services

AbstractAdvisory services are a highly sensitive form of collaboration: they rely on a clear distribution of roles between human participants who act according to an implicit set of practices and scripts. As such, they do not offer a specific role to a virtual assistant. At the same time, the technological improvements make the promise that institutional settings may be soon complemented with technology that allows for asking questions using natural speech, understands the context, and provides answers based on online processing of data. This article explores challenges and potentials of virtual assistants in advisory services while analyzing data from interviews and a workshop with clients and advisors from financial advisory services. It links the insights from the field with the institutional talk perspective. The findings unveil, that the concerns and hopes of potential users relate to their position and an implicit understanding of what an advisory service is about. This calls for careful and attentive design approach towards virtual assistants in advisory services.

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