You think your customer wants a human-like AI; you could be wrong

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Artificial intelligence — including automated virtual assistants (VAs) — is a hot topic for brands. The market for VAs is expected more than sixfold, to $23 billion by 2027, driven by a desire from the COVID-19 era to serve customer needs remotely and at scale. Are from Alexa From Slackbot to Capital One’s Eno to Domino’s Dom, it seems like every brand has its own VA lately.

Today, there are many ways brands approach VA experience design and have a special interest in very human-like those — VAs are intended for the appearance and behavior of real people who have previously fulfilled these requests. But that’s where brands can go wrong. Instead, they can try to achieve VA more than human.

Far beyond human

Let’s say your brand decides to create a VA for your customer service experience. You know that brands benefit when customers feel less like they’re interacting with an organization and more like they’re interacting with a trusted person. You know that big data and AI can feel scary and emotionless. You think putting a human face on an algorithm could make it feel more comfortable, natural, and intuitive.

After all, customers are used to talking to humans as assistants — it would be easy to think that customers want to preserve as much of that experience as possible, regardless of the intelligence on the other end of the line. human or artificial. Accordingly, the replacement of humans with an artificial is best done with an artificial human breed.


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So you give the VA a recognizable people name, personal pronoun (maybe she/she). friend”. You design VA to have a friendly, representative voice — she introduces herself, uses a familiar vernacular, tells jokes, jokes about food. You give her a human face.

But this approach comes with baggage.

For one thing, it sets expectations, can (and very Good maybe) leads to customer (customer Not really interacting with a human, after all). At worst, it can lead to perceptions of deception.

Furthermore, although we may find comfortable human interaction in abstractions, we also know that we humans bring prejudices, stereotypes, and past experiences into each of our lives. social interaction. These biases introduce deeply complex risks to choosing the human form (not to mention name, voice, and vocabulary) for your brand’s VA — and possibly even by chance consolidate these prejudices.

The advantages of not being human

Instead of working towards achieving signs of human-to-human interaction, there’s room to lean into the advantages of being truly non-human. Instead of replacing the human assistant — with all the biases, expectations, and functional capabilities that can come with that territory — what if we focused on what VAs bring to the table? complement and complement the human aspect of the service experience? When emphasizing that this is something different—Something that can offer instant convenience, inspire confidence in technological progress, really everywhere at once?

What if we try to find a VA more than human?

We see some interesting examples of this on the market today. RBC Royal Bank’s NOMI Named and described as a separate entity that customers can point to, NOMI mostly works in the background, tied to a variety of smart tools that are incorporated throughout the mobile banking experience. NOMI specifically puts details at the fingertips of the customer without the need for a specific form factor. The effect is a seamless interface that creates an air of unmistakable digital power for a trusted financial services brand.

Domino’s Dom takes a gripping approach to more than human match the personality of the brand. DomThe appearance of the hint at Mankind while hugging chatbots, with a hat chat bubble and cute voice, in an interactive messaging screen that responds to clicks and pizza emojis. Dom achieves friendliness while feeling more active than a mere human — with the scale and convenience that make ordering a cake more instant than ever.

Apple Siri has an amorphous form consisting of only colors and motion patterns (along with voice, which Apple adapt due to representation concerns of the type discussed above). This form can be easily flexed from phone to watch, car to laptop, all while maintaining the feeling that customers interact directly with the same Siri at each touchpoint. Siri also mentioned having a life of its own: when asked what Siri did today, Siri might describe saying The others stories as they light a fire on a cold night — emphasizing, too, the scale of its reach. With warm and whimsical touches of familiar humanity, Apple adds to the mysterious appeal of an abstract form factor that enables a cohesive experience across the entire ecosystem.

A high-tech difference

The instantly available analytics power at the customer’s fingertips, the delightfully different surprises in terms of digital prowess, the sheer scale of concurrent customer interactions — these feats are unmatched. doable for a human being. Instead of setting expectations for human-like interactions, successful VAs can become a high-tech discriminator and additional to the human element, the high touch of the brand experience.

So, when deciding how to represent the VA for your brand, ask yourself:

  • What is a Needs VA? What progress must a VA allow clients to make in their lives? How will it change the customer’s perception of your brand?
  • How much focus should the VA get — if any —? Who or what would you like to receive “credit” for AI capabilities—a standout VA or your overall brand?
  • How does VA complement – and only complement – the service experience? Which form of representation brings the underlying technology to its best light to enhance and improve all other aspects of the experience — including any entrustment to customer service representatives of human?
  • Does this expression have the flexibility to tie into the entire experience? Does a given rep represent consistently across every possible touchpoint a customer may encounter a VA — now and in the future?

These answers will show how you can best leverage your brand’s technological capabilities as a powerful brand component. Done well, the VA experience will allow your customers to feel that they can do things they couldn’t before, and relate to your brand in ways they couldn’t have imagined — most likely. by relying on the advantages of more than human.

Hailey Scherer is a senior advisor on innovation strategy at Lippincott


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