Customer interaction of the future, part 5: Artificial intelligence – the everyday helper
“Intelligent” machines have long been appealing to humans – just think of cinema hits like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and I, Robot. In the fifth and final part of our series on customer interaction of the future, we talk about what artificial intelligence (AI) means in the course of digital networking for the relationships between companies and consumers.
People who want to know where their friends or acquaintances currently are often just need to check their social media profile. For many people, it is now perfectly normal to let other people know about their activities, their whereabouts, their experiences and much more – in a nutshell: their lives. The clear market leader for social media is currently Facebook with 1.9 billion users, but the competition doesn’t sleep. For example, Twitter users can livestream videos directly on their Twitter feed using the Periscope app. Another example is Barcelona-based start up Omnipresenz, which allows its users to explore foreign cities online. To do this, users control a human avatar who wears a camera helmet. Life sharing on social media will continue to grow. In 2010 some 970,000,000 people around the world were registered on social media. By 2020, Statista reckons this figure will be almost three billion.
Today consumers are already prepared to share information about their fitness and even about their health. They can easily record and evaluate this information using self-tracking apps. Wearables like fitness bands, which are connected to apps, measure and analyze pulse rates, step counts, calorie intake, etc. in order to contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Users can share their experiences with training methods, or recommend nutritional supplements on a digital platform instead of at the gym.
Household tips from the washing machine
In just a few years, product recommendations will be increasingly generated by AI. This may be a personal digital assistant or a service provider’s external bot. In both cases, recommendations are based on data and facts that are available online and are evaluated for the user. For the most part, devices will record and distribute product information themselves. A washing machine will rate a new laundry detergent on the basis of pre-defined criteria, for example if it is suitable for the water hardness. The result influences not only the decision of whether or not to buy the powder again, it is also automatically distributed on the network so that other consumers can check whether the washing powder is correct for their washing machine. Recommendations will become more suitable, specific product characteristics will become more transparent and physical objects with digital functions (phygitals) will become opinion leaders themselves.
AI won’t just support people in their digital space, but also in their real lives. Hotel chain Starwood already employs robots as butlers in some of its hotels. The “Botlrs” bring the guests’ orders to their rooms, such as hand towels or snacks. To do so, they bypass obstacles or even operate the lifts using Wi-Fi. In future their descendants will provide support in caring for the elderly and impart knowledge to children.
Impact on customer dialog of the future
These developments will also lead to changes in the dialog between companies and consumers.
- AI will form the basis of every communication platform. In light of the increasing amount of personal, public and confidential data, it will be imperative that consumers and companies use artificial intelligence.
- Filtering, analyzing, processing and interacting with data will automatically and invisibly run in the background. It will be the basic prerequisite for repurchasing goods and services.
- In future, consumers will need to be able to decide which of their data is allowed to be processed by an AI.
- Because of the intelligent processes involved, product ratings will become very opaque for consumers. In order to build trust, companies will have to publicize their assessment criteria in a suitable manner.
- In future, product and service ratings will be based almost entirely on objective information evaluated by AI instead of on subjective consumer assessments.
- To motivate consumers to recommend products, companies will have to create individual added value, for example in the form of discounts and prizes.
- It will become increasingly important for companies to recognize and use the connections between systems. Consider this example: When using the same laundry detergent a number of times – registered by the washing machine – the consumer will receive a voucher for their favorite fashion shop. The data about their favorite fashion shop could in turn be the basis for recommendations.
- Personal assistants based on artificial intelligence, which take care of the consumer with individually customized information, mean that the customer journey is no longer linear, rather it is a cycle. The consumer will be reminded of products and services that they regularly use, if necessary with advanced features. It will become more difficult for other suppliers to make themselves known.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.