​KT partners with S. Korean hairdresser association to distribute AI call assistant service

By Park Sae-jin Posted : February 10, 2022, 13:15 Updated : February 10, 2022, 13:15

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- South Korea's biggest telecom company KT has partnered with a coalition of hairdressers to popularize an artificial intelligence-based call assistant service. The smart assistant service will help small-sized hair salons and one-man barber shops manage incoming reservation calls and customer-related inquiries.
An automatic response system (ARS) uses interactive voice response (IVR) technology which allows incoming callers to access information through a response system of pre-recorded messages. The human-to-machine call system has been globally adopted but many find it frustrating because they have to go through complex steps to gain access to information they need or get in contact with a human operator.
According to a 2018 survey of 2,022 Americans aged 18 and above, conducted by the Harris Poll, 94 percent found that ARS was frustrating. An AI-based call assistant engages in a natural spoken conversation. The caller can make reservations or ask complex questions such as "How long would it take for me to get a hair perm and a shave?" The survey showed 66 percent favored talking with an AI call assistant over ARS.
KT said in a statement on February 10 that the company signed a cooperation agreement with an association of hairdressers to distribute the AI call assistant service to more than 10,000 hair shops and barbershops by the end of 2022. The company said its AI call assistant can adaptively receive calls, respond to the demand of customers, and answer calls when the store is closed. Partner stores can use it for free in the first three months and receive a 50 percent discount for a year.
Association head Lee Seon-shim said that the AI assistant service would improve the quality of hairdressers' lives and working environments. In South Korea, a single hairdresser covers up to three customers at a time. When preoccupied with rolling perm sticks or dyeing hair, the hairdresser is unable to receive reservation calls.
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