Customer interaction of the future, part 2: Digital companions
Today, digital assistants are already helping us in many ways in our day-to-day lives – and they are becoming ever more efficient. In the second part of our series on the future of customer interactions we consider how the partnership between man and machine could look in the future.
Pillo by the New York company Pillo Health is a small device with friendly design that is intended as nothing less than a friend and helper with all aspects of your health. It uses a camera to recognize the members of a household and reminds them to take their medicines or nutritional supplements. The robot can also answer questions about the nutritional value of foods, and it automatically sends a message when a family member has failed to take important medicine. Pillo’s Japanese robot colleague Tapia, a white egg with big wide eyes, goes shopping online when you tell it to, is linked to the smart devices in the home and can control the light and heating, and will soon be able to read aloud to children and people with visual impairments.
Artificial intelligence applications are also being increasingly used in professional settings. The Versicherungskammer Bayern insurance company, for example, uses IBM’s Watson computer system to analyze written complaints from customers, to assign the case to the right service staff, and to improve customer service. In future, systems using artificial intelligence will be an integral part of our private and professional lives. According to estimates by the IDC consultancy company, one in five workers around the world will use automated assistance systems over the coming year. And Gartner analysts predict that consumers will be communicating more with robots than with their spouses by 2020.
The robot as advisor
If we leap forward to the year 2027, devices such as Pillo will no longer be gadgets used exclusively by technology fans, they will be commonplace. The intelligent systems take care of complex research tasks in fractions of seconds, make decisions and solve problems independently. Consumers have a high level of trust in their personal assistants and they often use them as a single touchpoint when it comes to seeking information and shopping. The assistants use sophisticated algorithms to compare products and evaluate experience reports, etc., in social networks. This means that they pre-sort and filter information for users based on their preferences. However, this makes it increasingly difficult for new companies to reach consumers and to be involved in the purchase decision.
With many articles of daily use, however, customers often no longer make a final purchase because sharing models have become more common. If there isn’t a special emotional connection to the product, consumers choose usage rights over ownership rights. When consumers are considering a purchase, they can use augmented reality to place new furniture in a living room or they can test new headphones using the relevant exchange and service platforms. And before booking their summer holidays, customers can have a closer look at the hotel using virtual reality.
Impact on customer dialogue of the future
What does this mean for the way companies communicate with their customers in future?
- Consumers expect a smart, multimedia service. Intelligent algorithms answer their queries, help them select products, and function as intermediaries between them and the provider.
- Companies will thereby also be receiving increasing volumes of automated queries from the digital assistants. Special processes and interfaces are needed to answer these.
- Companies require help to place their offers with the personal assistants.
- To support smart decision-making on the consumer’s part, both the assistants and the customer services of a company have to be able to deliver real-time and predictive analytics.
- Consumers demand that the information and product recommendations they receive are transparent and neutral. This means that the algorithms would ideally be independent from any specific sales platform and can be understood and influenced by the consumer to a certain degree.
- Despite all the work put into automation and convenience, in ten years’ time there will still be exceptional situations, and unforeseeable technical difficulties will still have to be processed and solved by highly trained customer service staff.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.