AI marketing and the journey through the uncanny valley

Restoring the brand/consumer relationship in the age of aggressive personalization

“Things usually get worse before they get better.”

“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Whether it’s the valley of the shadow of death in the 23rd Psalm or the Dangerous Trench on the way to Shell City in the Sponge Bob movie, we’re used to the concept of feeling that things are getting worse, even though we know we’re headed in the right direction.

This experience can be represented by a U-shaped curve, literally forming the shape of a valley between two peaks. In technical terms, the curve represents a nonlinear relationship between two variables. A specific example is the uncanny valley — the hypothesis of the unease, frustration, or even revulsion we feel as something approaches the behavior and appearance of a human without getting all the way there. In this case, the two variables are the humanlike nature of the object and the emotional response to it. This can be experienced with robots and AI assistants, and with 3D animation. Perhaps you know someone who gets illogically angry when Siri or Alexa fails to understand their commands, or maybe you get uncomfortable watching humanoid robots or CGI-animated humans in TV and movies.

Although 78 percent of marketers are adopting or expanding artificial intelligence marketing in 2018, marketers are also uneasy about the uncanny valley. They are concerned that by implementing AI marketing, they will lose control of the customer experience, possibly bewildering or even revolting their customers. While this is a reasonable concern, it could prove to be an unfounded and risky position — because marketers have already forced their customers into the uncanny valley through the use of marketing automation and aggressive personalization. And to quote another truism, when you’re going through hell, keep going. Because you don’t want to stay there.

Your customers are already in the uncanny valley

Could it be true that we’re already subjecting our customers to experiences that create bewilderment and revulsion? You don’t have to have 3D avatars or robots in your customer experience to create these eerie, negative feelings in your customers. The uncanny valley is represented by a sudden decrease in empathy when a human-like being ceases in some way to be human. Here are some specific examples to indicate that your customers may already be in the uncanny valley:

Broken context

Example: An AI assistant or chatbot initially passes for human but fails to understand the context of a question that would be simple for a human to understand, revealing that it is not human. Here is just one of many anecdotes from Reddit:

In just seconds, this user went from loving their Echo to figuratively (literally?) flipping the table in frustration.

Not quite lookalikes

Example: A cursory read of our example user’s Facebook history could tell you that he is a foodie, a vegetarian and a fan of subscription boxes. Recently, this user got targeted by a new artisanal food subscription service that was relevant in many respects, except for the fact that they exclusively offer cured meats. It’s reasonable in some respects that an artisanal cured meat subscription service would target him. Except that as a vegetarian, this user found their ad bewildering and invasive, causing him to lose interest and scroll quickly past. In his scrolling fervor, he accidentally registered a click on the ad, leading to weeks of cured meats in his feed.

Bad timing

Another example from that same user: Currently, his bank is aggressively targeting him with a competitive mortgage offer. Three weeks ago, there were credit, fund consolidation and other signals that he was preparing for a home purchase. At that point, it was stone cold silence from the bank. But now that he has signed a mortgage with another bank and closed escrow, he is getting targeted after the fact with an offer that he would have considered three weeks ago. Now, it’s just aggravating.

Three ways to ascend from the uncanny valley

Ascending from the uncanny valley is possible, but it takes buy-in from executives and a concerted effort by the entire marketing organization. Fortunately, Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM) provides a new approach for interacting with customers, allowing for consistent relevant experiences across all channels and continuous optimization at scale. Marketers shouldn’t fear the uncanny valley. They should focus on crossing through to the other side. Here’s how:

1. Keep context: Match your level of sophistication across channels

Ideally, your website, app and chatbot work together to provide integrated, personalized service. Your customers should be able to access the same contextual features whether in the mobile app, at the brick-and-mortar store or when chatting with Alexa. If a user clicks through to your site from a specific offer email, that offer should automatically persist on the website. While your customers often encounter the same creative elements across your app, social, display, email and website, they’re disappointed when experiences are disjointed and out-of-context.

Unfortunately, many brand experiences can only be delivered to users in a single channel due to the inherent limitations of current marketing clouds, making a promise of sophisticated interaction that can’t be delivered in other channels.

2. Reduce uncertainty: Use visual cues to signal behavior and ability

If you do have varying levels of sophistication for some of your communication channels, you can give your customer cues to set appropriate expectations. If you have created a bot or an app with sophisticated abilities, imbue it with human personality. In contrast, a limited chatbot doesn’t need a name, a highly humanized voice or an avatar. And if your mobile app focuses on a subset of features, be clear about what they are in the app name and description.

3. Responsiveness: Reduce the lag between insight and action

If you gain insight about an individual customer, how quickly can you adjust your interactions to be responsively relevant? A human conversation involves both parties responding in real time to conscious and subconscious cues. If your campaigns and audience segments are static, or if your channels are siloed, it can take too long to move at the speed of the customer. However, with AI marketing that has dynamic decisioning at its core, new data and behavioral signals can immediately be acted upon without human intervention. The result is a more responsive customer interaction that adapts as your customer evolves.

To get to the other side

Helping your customers ascend out of the uncanny valley can seem like a monumental task, but with AI marketing, it is now feasible. Consumer brands that make the leap and move away from the rules will be the first to reap the benefits of consistent, cross-channel interactions that are optimized at scale by AI.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amplero is an Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM) company that enables enterprise B2C marketers to optimize customer lifetime value at a scale that is not humanly possible. Unlike most approaches which bolt AI onto legacy martech stacks, Amplero’s AIM Platform was built with AI at the core, using machine learning and multi-armed bandit experimentation to dynamically test 1000s of permutations to automatically optimize every customer interaction and maximize customer lifetime value and loyalty. Using Amplero, marketers in telecom, banking, gaming and consumer tech have garnered a 1-3% incremental growth in customer topline revenue and 3-5x lift in retention rates.https://www.amplero.com/

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Artificial Intelligence & Marketing: A.I. Is definitively moving the 4P’s (Kotler) to the S.A.V.E. model through a Hyper Personalized Relation with the consumer

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to give a lecture with Professor Hugues Bersini about A.I. and Marketing…

Started (officialy) 50 years ago, AI is now present in marketing. We estimate that it will take about 10 years to reach the plateau of productivity. But tests are supposed to start now.

 

Why Fashion Brand Cosabella Let a Robot Take Control of Its Marketing Budget (Source: Entrepreneur.com)

Why Fashion Brand Cosabella Let a Robot Take Control of Its Marketing Budget

Image credit: Cosabella
In this series, The FixEntrepreneur Associate Editor Lydia Belanger shares her conversations with founders and executives whose solutions to inefficiencies can inspire others to find new ways to save themselves time, money or hassle.

Lingerie brand Cosabella has long experimented with up-and-coming technologies to get the word out about its products. When online message boards became popular in the ‘90s, founder Valeria Campello created the username “NoMoreVPL” and anonymously conversed with women, praising Cosabella’s thong underwear for its ability to eliminate visible panty lines. Her efforts paid off: Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Winona Ryder were soon wearing them.

Today, Cosabella is after the next tech-driven revelations. The 34-year-old company, which previously focused on manufacturing and wholesale, is now investing heavily in direct-to-consumer retailing and marketing. CEO Guido Campello, Valeria’s son, says the brand’s goal is to “look just as sexy, just as lucrative and just as ‘startup’” as the latest, buzzy players in women’s fashion. To do so, Cosabella had to find a way to adapt its digital marketing strategy — and quickly.

Related: The Family Behind Luxury Lingerie Business Cosabella

“When it came to ad spend, which is one of the most basic principles of building customer lifetime value and driving customers, we needed something that could do that for us in a very efficient manner, do it based on its success and know that its success was efficient,” says Campello, adding the company was sick of spending money on agency-driven ad campaigns that weren’t able to objectively measure results.

Cosabella realized it needed a computer, not humans, to tell it how to look, what to say and where to put its dollars.

The fix

The Cosabella team had been to a handful of retail and ecommerce conferences where artificial intelligence (AI) had been a hot topic. They heard about how smaller brands were beginning to use AI for consumer targeting to keep up with massive online retailers such as Amazon.

So after hearing about Albert, an artificial intelligence marketing platform that works across all channels, including search, mobile, social and display, they decided to give it a shot.

By implementing Albert, Cosabella’s in-house content creation team is able to quickly test ads and immediately swap them out or make edits to them if they’re not getting people’s attention. Employees could now test multiple pieces of content at a time, across different channels or even different countries, then present the results in an organized way that’s easy for humans to digest visually. That way, people who create ad campaigns or even products can spend their time creating, not analyzing.

“We’re able to say, look, this worked well, let’s go ahead and run it for five more days or six more days, or, let’s give it a subcategory or focus it,” Campello says. “There’s so much that you can test on how you’re getting your message across. It’s really A/B testing for marketing but to the minute.”

More importantly, Albert doesn’t just tell Cosabella what’s working. It makes thousands of decisions a day —  everything from email newsletters to search engine optimization — without consulting any human at the company. This might mean Albert halts one digital campaign and throws money at another. The human team, meanwhile, is able to monitor Albert and make adjustments if desired.

Campello also emphasizes that, contrary to what some might expect, the AI platform wasn’t too time-consuming to implement or too technical for Cosabella’s existing employees to manage.

“I didn’t need, you know, 150 hours of training, where the team had to sit in a room with a consultant and then have so many calls. It was very fluid and easy,” Campello says. “It’s really something that, if it was affordable enough, and you were selling jam out of your kitchen, you would want to use it and you could use it. You literally could find the ability to apply it and still do everything else you do during the day.”

Campello says Cosabella is spending about the same amount of money on Albert as it used to pay the digital ad agency Albert replaced — and getting a lot more for its money.

Image Credit: Cosabella
The Albert interface allows Cosabella to test and monitor the performance of multiple digital ads simultaneously.

The results

Cosabella quantifies Albert’s effectiveness in terms of return on ad spend (ROAS). In the company’s first month using the platform, Albert increased Cosabella’s ROAS for social media and search by 50 percent while decreasing the total amount spent on ads by 12 percent during that time. By month three, the company reports, Albert had increased Cosabella’s total ROAS 336 percent.

Facebook ads especially have become more lucrative under Albert. ROAS for Facebook increased by 565 percent in the first month. Prior to Albert, between 5 and 10 percent of Cosabella’s paid ad revenue came from Facebook. Now, that’s jumped to 30 percent, and the brand sees 2,000 percent more purchases originating from Facebook than it did before Albert.

As far as what’s changed qualitatively, Cosabella’s ads are starting to look different. “Beautiful campaigns that mean nothing” are becoming passé, Campello says, describing the fashion industry trope of a pretty model being photographed on a boat with her hands in the air and the wind blowing in her hair.

“Authenticity, now, is important, and where your brand is made is actually important again,” he says. “Who’s making it, no matter what they look like, people love. So, you’ve got brands that are telling these stories really well, and you can’t come back empty. You might have a great product and you love it and you want to give it this feeling, but if you’re not telling a story of why the heck you created it, people fall off.”

Related: How Retailers Are Thriving Despite the Supposed Death of Their Industry

Albert was able to show Cosabella that a Facebook video, for instance, should be short. Maybe 10 seconds long, and in that time display about six words, contain some beautiful imagery and devote three seconds to showcasing a product and six seconds to share something about how, where or by whom it was made. Campello says Cosabella needs to produce this content not only because Albert has identified that people respond well to it, but also because the more content you feed Albert, the more it’s able to generate additional insights, so the company is incentivized to feed it the right kind of content. To do that, Cosabella has had to invest more in video production.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcosabella.madeinitaly%2Fvideos%2F10153425507588877%2F&show_text=0&width=560

An example of a video Cosabella posted to its Facebook page in January 2016, pre-Albert.

Another way Cosabella’s mindset about online advertising has shifted under Albert is that it plans to create social media ads that resemble the hangtags on new apparel. Magazine ads traditionally don’t look like this, saying things like “dry fit” or “odor free.” The language on hang tags never appeared on any of Cosabella’s marketing materials. Now, with the rise of mobile ecommerce, Campello says, “suddenly your phone becomes the hangtag of the product.”

Campello says that the brand’s 34-year heritage gives it a lot to work with when it comes to telling origin stories. Although Albert gave the company the intel that it should tap into this heritage, it is equally capable of telling them to let go of some of it.

“Something like Albert will tell you whether or not these things are still relevant and whether or not you need to wake up and move and change,” Campello says. “We have to have an open mind to be able to say to ourselves, ‘OK, we’ve done some things incorrectly, but let’s let’s find the core of the brand and make sure we don’t lose that.”

Another take

AI has the potential to level the playing field for smaller brands, making the market more competitive in some ways by enabling more innovating and testing with less risk, says Joe Stanhope, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester who specializes in consumer marketing technology. However, because artificial intelligence for marketing is a relatively new concept, many people fear it, he says.

Some apply their preconceived notions about AI from sci-fi movies and think the platform will run rampant. As is the case with Albert, however, “You have to give these systems input,” Stanhope says. “You have to say, ‘Here’s the information. Here’s a goal we’re optimizing against. Go learn.’”

But you can’t expect the AI to learn right away, he says. The training period can last from hours to months, depending on the data you want it to analyze. You have to make sure it’s operating with all of the possible facts on the table and not making incorrect assumptions about your business. He also warns that sometimes, AI might overdeliver, because it’s programmed to do so, perhaps increasing sales at the expense of another marketing element.

Also, you can’t expect an AI platform to learn how to make good decisions for your company if you give it insufficient information or content to work with. And that’s why AI can’t replace marketers; it merely helps them create content more effectively and quickly. That said, creating and developing enough content for various promotions and personalized campaigns is an ongoing challenge for brands. “While AI can go through variations and experiments and learn so much faster,” Stanhope says, “brands need that much more content and creative capability to feed it.”

Related: Artificial Intelligence Is Likely to Make a Career in Finance, Medicine or Law a Lot Less Lucrative

For companies interested in implemented AI tools for purposes of marketing optimization, Stanhope says to expect to learn how to use them along the way. It might involve figuring out how to work with a creative agency with the new AI system in place, how often to measure the results, how much content to feed it or how marketer’s responsibilities will shift.

The advertising landscape is evolving all the time, as platforms such as Snapchat and Facebook incorporate additional targeting mechanisms and ad formats, for instance, and the ways in which consumers use those platforms change. But it’s not a question of whether AI will be able to keep up, Stanhope clarifies. AI can process what humans cognitively can’t. It can keep up with the dynamic nature of these platforms while the wealth of data generated within them feeds its learning.

“The world is awash in data. We’ve got more data than we know what to do with,” Stanhope says. “This is a way to make the most use of that deluge of information that we have at our disposal.”

L’intelligence artificielle fera disparaitre le marketing ? (source: Stephane Mallard) 

A lire et à nuancer:  Il existe une évidente distorsion entre la situation ‘idéale’ énoncée dans l’article et  les efforts + le temps pour y arriver. Une évidence par contre: le marketing plus que jamais est ‘user experience centric’ et l’AI est une énorme opportunité.

Source: L’intelligence artificielle fera disparaitre le marketing

(Crédits : DR)
“Nous allons passer d’un monde mobile-first à un monde AI-first”, c’est en ces mots que Sundar Pichai, le PDG de Google a qualifié l’enjeu de l’arrivée de l’intelligence artificielle lors de la conférence Google I/O de cette année : passer à monde où l’intelligence artificielle est omnisciente, partout tout autour de nous. Par Stéphane Mallard, Digital Evangelist Blu Age

La révolution est palpable, pas un seul jour sans qu’une nouvelle annonce dans la presse vienne vanter les dernières prouesses de l’intelligence artificielle. Elle pose des diagnostics médicaux en quelques minutes là où les médecins sont incapables d’en poser, réduit la facture d’électricité de Google de 40% sur le refroidissement de ses serveurs, apprend à gagner au poker en bluffant, Apple annonce que son prochain iPhone utilisera de l’intelligence artificielle pour nous permettre de le déverrouiller en reconnaissant notre visage. Tous les secteurs sont en train d’être augmentés par l’intelligence artificielle. Les analystes nous prédisent un changement de paradigme à tous les niveaux de la société, mais se précipitent de nous rassurer en nous disant qu’il restera toujours à l’Homme la créativité. Pas si sûr, l’intelligence artificielle commence là aussi à nous rattaper : elle compose des albums musicaux, réalise des peintures, et écrit le prochain Game of Throne.

Tous les acteurs, de tous les secteurs se précipitent sur l’intelligence artificielle en se demandant comment elle va changer leur métier, leur manière de conduire le business avec la même hypothèse de départ : que leur business, leur activité continuera à exister, et que l’intelligence artificielle ne fera que l’améliorer, leur permettra de mieux faire leur métier, de l’augmenter. Parmi eux, les spécialistes du Marketing. Selon eux l’intelligence artificielle sera le Saint Graal. Elle leur permettra d’améliorer considérablement la connaissance client, de faire des classification précises des types de clients, de micro-segmenter, de repérer tendances et signaux faibles dans les données avec des indicateurs de plus en plus précis jusqu’aux plus intimes sur les clients. Ils se disent que la donnée est une mine d’or dont ils pourront extraire une valeur inexploitée pour vendre plus et mieux. Ce raisonnement est parfaitement juste : l’intelligence artificielle va augmenter la fonction marketing à tous les niveaux. Mais ce raisonnement est incomplet, il ne s’intéresse qu’au point de vue de la fonction marketing sans évaluer le potentiel de l’intelligence artificielle côté client et utilisateur. Pour effectuer une analyse d’impact rigoureuse, il faut analyser l’offre et la réponse de la demande. Dès lors que l’on se penche du côté client et de ce que l’arrivée de l’intelligence artificielle va lui permettre, on comprend assez rapidement que le marketing est voué à disparaître. Et c’est une excellent nouvelle pour la valeur que cela va créer au passage.

Le marketing devient obsolète

Le marketing est l’ensemble des techniques, méthodes, outils et processus qui permettent à la fois de mieux connaître le client, mais aussi de l’influencer dans sa décision de consommer, au sens large. C’est à dire dans sa décision de consacrer du temps, de l’argent et/ou de l’attention à un produit, un service ou un contenu (article, vidéo, personne etc…). Ces méthodes et techniques fonctionnent, elles ont fait leur preuves, c’est d’ailleurs pour cela qu’une discipline entière, le marketing, y est consacré. Le neuromarketing par exemple utilise les neurosciences pour mieux comprendre ce qui se passe dans le cerveau du client et ainsi pouvoir mieux l’influencer, à son insu. Les grandes marques en raffolent pour préparer leurs campagnes. Le client de son côté, subit ces techniques qui l’influencent, mais sent bien qu’il est manipulé. Face à cette manipulation, des entrepreneurs, des programmeurs et des utilisateurs se défendent et tentent de contrecarrer les effets du marketing sur nous. Premier exemple, la publicité en ligne.

C’est un outil de marketing de base. Souvent invasive et insupportable l’utilisateur n’en veut pas, elle le dérange. Solution côté utilisateur : les ad-blockers, qui suppriment purement et simplement la publicité.  Deuxième exemple, les comparateurs de prix. Il y a quelques années, il était possible trouver pour le même produit des différences de prix très importantes. Le vendeur qui utilisait les meilleures techniques marketing pour pousser le produit au client en premier avait le plus d’influence et pouvait se permettre une marge plus importante. Des entrepreneurs se sont rendu compte de l’aberration économique et ont créé les comparateurs de prix pour uniformiser les prix. Là encore, marketing côté vendeur, désamorcé côté client.

Avec l’arrivée de l’intelligence artificielle, il y a fort à parier, et il est souhaitable, que ce schéma se répète. Chaque fois que le marketing utilisera l’intelligence artificielle pour mieux influencer un client, le client disposera d’outils qui eux aussi utiliseront l’intelligence artificielle pour annuler ses effets et ne plus se faire manipuler. On peut imaginer qu’à l’avenir des outils d’intelligence artificielle prendront en compte le profil de l’utilisateur pour filtrer les comportements des entreprises qui utilisent le marketing pour le toucher et ne laisser passer que ce qui est vraiment pertinent pour lui. Le marketing était utile à une époque où l’information circulait de manière imparfaite pour toucher des clients.

Mais ce qui est très puissant avec la révolution digitale et qui sera exacerbé avec l’intelligence artificielle, c’est qu’elle est darwinienne : ce qui est adapté est sélectionné et se diffuse. Plus besoin de marketing, l’information circule vite, et ce qui est adapté et pertinent (produit, service, contenu, personne…) émerge et se propage, notamment via les réseaux sociaux. Cet écart entre les professionnels du marketing qui cherchent à influencer les clients et les clients qui cherchent à s’en protéger va se réduire avec l’arrivée de l’intelligence artificielle mais la course entre les deux perdurera. Le professionnel cherchera toujours à avoir un temps d’avance. Mais si cet écart reste important, alors il y aura de la place pour des startups pour le combler et fournir des outils aux clients pour s’en protéger.

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VOIR LA VIDEO “L‘essor de l’Intelligence Artificielle

VOIR AUSSI LA VIDEO “L’IA : A l’aube de la disruption ultime”

Why AI is still very reliant on humans | VentureBeat | Bots | by Patrick Nguyen, [24]7

If pop culture is to be believed, society is quickly heading toward a highly automated future ruled by artificial intelligence. Take Iron Man’s trusty sidekick, J.A.R.V.I.S. Within the Marvel franchise, the artificial intelligence system is able to think, act, and feel like a human. The supporting character is even sarcastic and witty — both trademark human characteristics. In some ways, J.A.R.V.I.S. seems like a better human than most humans.

Source: Why AI is still very reliant on humans | VentureBeat | Bots | by Patrick Nguyen, [24]7

With the release of AI technologies like IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein, in addition to the recent buzz about the “Partnership on AI,” which has brought together some of the world’s biggest tech companies to advance research in the sector, it might seem like that fantasy is quickly turning into reality. It’s no wonder Forrester predicts that robots will replace 6 percent of U.S. jobs by 2021, with Salesforce’s Einstein promising to help close sales deals and Oracle’s Adaptive Intelligent Applications providing actionable business and customer insights across multiple industries.

While we’re seeing bold progress in the sciencesmedicine, and education, it’s unlikely we’ll all be governed by robots anytime soon. The truth is that fully autonomous AI is still science fiction, and these machines are still largely dependent on humans, especially when it comes to learning on their own and performing complex tasks.

Chatbots are useful, not powerful

Let’s consider the recent hype around chatbots. While we’ve seen enormous interest in all things bot lately, most chatbots today are generally limited to answering questions and handling simple transactions. And rather than acting as true self-learning machines, chatbots must be manually trained by humans in order to get smarter.

While it’s true that conversational technologies are evolving in ways that are reshaping how companies and consumers interact, discussions around the self-service revolution are more likely to be centered on striking the right balance between automation and human assistance, rather than predictions of total takeover like 2004’s I, Robot. The diversity of consumer intents and the complexity of business processes make fully automated machine learning impractical, at least for the near future, and humans remain entirely necessary.

Technological advancements have paved, and will continue to pave, the way for automated experiences, such as virtual assistants, to become the starting point for almost all interactions a customer might have with a business. In my lifetime, we’ve gone from hoping the newspaper printed the right movie times to asking Siri for movie schedules and purchasing tickets with the touch of a button. In the era of ubiquitous computing where computers outnumber users, the pop culture representation of intelligent computers seems possible.

But for now, despite the strides being made by powerhouse tech companies, we’re in the middle of an AI hype cycle with inflated expectations about how much these machines can accomplish without us.

Saving humans for high-value conversations

Gartner predicts that 85 percent of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020, so it’s clear that companies should and will continue to invest in bots. Still, the best consumer experience often requires a balance of human and machine, depending on the nature of the customer’s query and their ultimate intent. Flexibility and responsiveness are key for engaging customers, whether fulfilled by a human or a machine. The future is not about machines replacing humans entirely, but rather for saving human effort for those particularly unique or complex scenarios that require human understanding of natural language and a sense of empathy.

To date, we’ve yet to see any one company fully leverage available data to make customer engagement as effective as it can be. Consumer data comes from many disparate places and exists in many forms. The volume, speed, and diversity of data can be impossible for humans to comprehend. That’s where machines come in. From advanced natural language technology to prediction and machine learning, technology is critical to making sense of data and context in real-time in a way that helps businesses engage their customers in the moments that matter. And this ability will improve over time.

These technologies can help businesses determine the consumer’s intent, weigh their needs, and make more informed, personalized, and real-time service decisions. For example, a business could use AI to determine which channels a shopper prefers, whether they like to interact with a virtual assistant or a live chat representative, or if the customer’s request may require higher-level assistance. It’s the same way the waitstaff at a high-end restaurant might anticipate customers’ needs, appearing at just the right time or recommending the perfect wine.

Research shows that consumers’ first choice will almost always be to handle issues independently. In fact, one-third of millennials say the ability to self-serve is what they look for most often in a customer service experience.

While self-service technology is getting better at triangulating customer needs, many consumer engagement scenarios require human intervention. At times, the range of consumer preferences and emotions are simply too broad for even the smartest machine to address. In all cases, the switch from a bot to live agent should feel contextual and easy for the customer, and empower the live agent to successfully handle the customer’s request post-transition.

Self-service grocery lanes are a great example. Customers certainly enjoy the ease of self-service, and grocers benefit from the ability to process transactions faster. However, self-service grocery lanes cannot always scan a customer’s ID when buying alcohol, for example. At that point, cashiers need to step in to resolve the issue (without asking the customer to start over again!).

The same should be true of the customer experience online. In a world where the vast majority of customer interactions are automated, humans should be reserved for high-value, high-touch conversations that drive revenue and brand loyalty. It’s where machines fall short, and where humans are most valuable.

Hollywood is right, but ahead of its time

The future of self-service for companies is akin to the state of a self-driving car. We’ve made cars smarter and customer service more effective, but we’re still a long way from wide adoption of self-driving cars and chatbots to resolve every problem.

That’s why customer service of the future will continue to see humans and machine working together. J.A.R.V.I.S. is amazing, but as the acronym suggests, it’s just a very intelligent system. There are certain customer service needs that only humans can handle. While J.A.R.V.I.S. may inform Iron Man’s decisions and act incredibly human (much more so than today’s technologies), it can’t replace the man in the suit.

52% of the consumers think that AI will have a positive impact on their personal live (Infographic)

In AI-Ready or Not, Weber Shandwick surveyed global consumers and senior ranking marketers on their attitudes toward and expectations for artificial intelligence (AI). The following provides the results of the consumer perspectives and what those implications mean for marketers.

In its most basic definition, AI is intelligence exhibited by machines. It is frequently thought of as robotics, but encompasses a broader range of technologies, some of which are in wide use among
the general population today.

Source: AI-Ready Or Not: Artificial Intelligence Here We Come! | Fintech Schweiz Digital Finance News – FintechNewsCH