A shiny new cohort yesterday joined the workforce in Taiwan — a troop of mini robots all going by the name “Pepper,” enlisted to entertain customers and give them the hard sell.
Mandarin-speaking Peppers were introduced into two banks and an insurance company in Taipei, dancing to music, playing with children in lobbies and leading staff aerobics sessions.
The pint-size white automatons are designed to flatter customers in line, declaring: “It’s my honor to serve you.”
Skilled in public relations, they guess clients’ ages at far lower than reality. Then they move in for the kill, providing information on financial products and encouraging customers to go to company Web sites and sales staff for information.
Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽), the nation’s biggest insurer, introduced its first Pepper to its Taipei branch yesterday.
The firm plans to have 10 robots nationwide, but said that Pepper is meant to supplement its human colleagues, not sideline them.
“Pepper’s job is to greet customers and introduce products to make the wait for services less boring,” Cathay Life executive vice president Rachel Wang (王麗秋) said.
“We hope it can do more in the future, but it definitely will not replace our staff,” she said.
The robot was first unveiled by Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank Corp in 2014.
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