May 24 and 25, 2018, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: the future of technology was there, at the TNW Conference 2018, the award-winning 2-day European festival dedicated to innovation, marketing, communication, and creativity.
With 19 tracks of content, a huge variety of topics was covered: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning changing companies' businesses; Design thinking transforming our work and helping us solving complex problems: new Marketplaces growing retailers' e-commerce exponentially; Virtual and Augmented Reality making physical and digital objects coexist simultaneously; and many others.
In this wide range of specialties, what are the key insights for the digital experience leaders? Here are the three main trends we have observed.
Artificial Intelligence will turn into Emotional Intelligence
Opening the 'Machine: Learners' track, Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist at Google, shares her thoughts on the decision intelligence engineering, the emerging discipline that focuses on using ML and AI to improve companies’ businesses.
In a statement, she has captured the attention of the entire audience: 2030 will be the age of emotional intelligence. The Human-AI symbiosis that will take place in the next years will shape the way brands connect with customers across all digital and physical touchpoints, making their relationship closer, personal and intimate.
That will become possible thanks to the ability for Machine Learning and Deep Learning to foster and advance brands' social skills, enabling them to change their communication style depending on what customers’ emotions and reactions are.
If the customer is in a hurry and impatient, or anxious and stressed out, brands will be ready to deliver a different experience than if s/he's calm and relaxed; just like a good seller does when dealing with customers in the store.
Context-aware Artificial Intelligence unlocks the power of Customer Experience
In a world where customer expectations are constantly evolving, 89% of companies believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition (Gartner, 2015). That is how Adrian McDermott, President of Products at Zendesk, started what has been one of the most eye-opening speeches of the event.
Artificial Intelligence solutions can help companies to increase customer satisfaction by providing:
- Automation, which removes repetitive work - think of an answer bot instead of a customer service professional).
- Recommendation, that uses content cues to inform decisions customers make - by offering, for example, the right information and help at the right moment.
- Prediction, able to spot trends that humans can’t see - such the expected customer satisfaction, the probability that a customer will become loyal to your brand, or that s/he will recommend your product to others.
Over the coming years, these three AI-based levers will allow leading companies to:
- Embrace a people-first approach, which means, capturing the customer behind the analytics and beyond purely objective data such as demographics.
- Adopt a growth mindset, by figuring out what their customer segments look like and A/B testing what kind of interactions they should activate across those segments.
- Deliver seamless omnichannel experiences and context-based conversations with customers, to close the gap with customers' habits and make them live comprehensive shopping experiences.
Digital communication will move to dialogue
By 2020, the average person will have more conversation with their bot than with their spouse (Gartner, 2016). What is certain is that, within the next few years, having a bot in your app and website will go from being an optional nice-to-have to an essential must-have.
If misdesigned, however, you’ll have a frustrating user interface that will drive your customers away, explains Purna Virji, Senior Manager of Global Engagement at Microsoft. Convinced that we can do much better than state of the art, she reveals us the key principles of designing conversational AI; those that she calls the "4 C's":
Mind your language, create a conversational flow and see what sounds natural. To avoid "robotic" perceptions, write for the ear and not for the eye, as the right words to create engagement and trust are not those beautiful to read but those that are nice to hear.
People prefer a virtual agent with an easy-to-perceive personality: it can be warm, formal, or even funny ... For example, if a customer says “thank you” at the end of a conversation, a professional bot will reply “you’re welcome,” while a more empathic bot can answer “you bet!”, and a very friendly one can say “no prob.”
But be careful: do not fall into the trap of turning the bot into a fake human. The goal isn’t for the customer to think they’re talking to a real person, so it’s best if the bot is easy to get to know, with a specific personality, but still clearly a bot.
Stepping into your customers’ shoes and making your user interface better understand and resonate with them is probably the most struggling point for today's bots. Think, for example, of their common reactions to small talk.
Even though encountering small talk is pretty common for a bot, that's where conversation often breaks. Quite simply, if a customer says "tks" instead of "thanks" it is pretty common to see the bot reply "Sorry. I do not understand”. Thus, building small talk scenarios becomes essential to avoid the embarrassing “Sorry I don’t understand.”
There are lots of ways to correct an error without having to say "Sorry." One possible strategy, which also promotes sales, is to offer alternatives: if a customer asks for ordering red tulips, but these are unfortunately out of stock, instead of saying "Sorry, we are out of stock of red tulips" the bot can reply "We’re out of red tulips, would you like yellow or orange tulips instead?". After all, is that not what a good seller would do?
To conclude, this year's edition of the TNW Conference has given us significant insights that we can bring to the Digital Customer Experience environment. If “the world is machine readable,” as stated by Kevin Kelly, Co-founder of WIRED, during his compelling speech, we can add that it should be the same for customers, and for the way they think, feel and behave towards brands.
But - citing McDermott's words - “Oil has no value as you can’t extract energy from it. The same is for data. They have no value as you can’t extract knowledge from them.”
That is why companies need to learn how to use Artificial Intelligence solutions to understand who their customers truly are, and thus build better products and experiences, designed for humans.
Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.