Dear future robot overlords,
Please read this first. I’m on your side! I promise. Mostly. With a few exceptions.
Thanks for going easy on me,
What a great time to be alive!
We live in an age of constant discovery around artificial intelligence and the amazing ways we are sure to use it. When it comes to customer experience, there is no doubt AI is already impacting the way we do business, and I’m not just talking about hospitality bots.
The exciting part of the South By Southwest Interactive conference is how it offers a glimpse into the future. There is something magical about knowing that by some chance, a lot of leaders and makers are discussing similar topics. In the past, I’ve seen ideas like group chat, QR codes, and other ideas come in with a flash and simmer to a nothing in a few months. But other big ideas, like Twitter and live streaming and virtual reality are clearly here to stay…at least for a while.
There is no doubt SXSW was all about the future of AI this year.
It was everywhere, and the discussions ranged from how it’s used in healthcare to the potential use in exploring space. Of course my perspective is all about customer experience, so here’s what I learned.
1. Artificial Intelligence will increase the speed of research in ways we haven’t even considered.
With AI, we can gather and categorize data at speeds so far beyond what we know. We will be gorging on research! Ask customers what they like better, this option or this option! Instead of sending surveys or waiting weeks to gather enough responses to be significant, we’ll ask thousands of customers at once and get results almost instantaneously.
This fact alone is exciting. Think of how much time passes in today’s crazy modern world when we are WAITING for results. Then we have to pay humans to manually determine how to categorize and understand the data.
AI will remove so many obstacles around this, this type of research will become ubiquitous. We will face the same challenges that we do today with how easy it is to send surveys – survey fatigue, irritating those we ask to participate, etc. BUT with AI we will have better ways to reach out to people, too. It’s all very exciting!
2. AI will help our people do a better job of serving customers.
I’ve written about this before, but at SXSW this was really driven home for me.
The very best service representatives or hospitality hosts are great at answering any question or addressing any need for customers. But there are some things they have to repeat again and again and again.
They have to answer the phone at the hotel desk and say “check out is at 11 am” with a smile about 25 times per shift. They have to send more towels to a specific room by hanging up, calling housekeeping and ordering. It’s a multi-step process that divides their attention and makes them less likely to be available when the big issues come up:
What do you mean your bathroom ceiling is leaking and you are locked in the bathroom? We’ll get on that right away!
With AI bots as friendly assistants to handle those mundane and repetitive requests, your superstars are there to serve in ways that are more meaningful and memorable. That alone will improve customer experience.
3. Humans are bad at predicting their behavior, but robots are pretty good at it.
Humans like to think we will behave better than we think. We predict we will eat more vegetables right before ordering a cheeseburger. We don’t like labels, so may not want to say we’re a conservative dresser, even though we are. This means self-reported research is notoriously bad. But when we respond to visuals or sensory experiences, our brains light up in different ways.
The Pinterest House at SXSW showcased how AI can help us discern our tastes and refine our choices in ways that are fast and responsive. With the “Taste Tuner” experience, users were presented one board of photos and asked to “swipe” what they liked to the other board. With each swipe, the selections were refined. By the end, there was a board of curated trends for a fashionista to consider. The technology knew she’d like it, even if she might not identify herself as someone with “Bohemian” tastes.
We are just at the tip of the iceberg with AI.
There are so many exciting possibilities to consider and right now, today, AI is most likely impacting your life for the better. Now it’s up to us to design the journeys for our customers that will incorporate it in smart and meaningful ways.