Customer experience professionals key to AI adoption

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A growing number of organizations are embracing technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics. But do those organizations have a clear sense of why they are doing so, or how those technologies will benefit customers?

The answer in many cases is ‘no,’ says Forrester Research senior analyst Jennifer Wise. In her report “New robots, VR, AI and IoT need CX help” Wise shares her thoughts on where organizations go wrong, and how the customer is often an after-thought in the benefit that these technologies can bring.

Information Management: What is meant by the title of your latest report?

Jennifer Wise: “Everyone is bullish on new emerging technologies – and yes, technology promises are great, but why the customer would want or use them is often missing from the story. And these technologies will do no more than sputter along in adoption if people don’t want, like, and use them – like the QR code, Google Glass, and even VR has. That is why customer experience professionals will need to help close that gap, and make sure these technologies deliver great experiences that customer will want and will warrant continued brand and tech investment in these emerging fields.”

“It all comes down to the customer wanting, and liking, the end experience.”

IM: You discuss the rapid advancements being made in the areas of VR, AI, the IoT and robots in your report, but say that many vendors don't deliver a best experience because they fail to consider people’s real needs with each. Can you discuss what these needs are?

Wise: “I don’t need to transition to using a chatbot if using the website is equal, or simpler for me. I don’t need to learn to talk to a robot in-store if my mobile app can get me the answer. So companies have to ask if they are actually solving for a customer need (not just seeing what a technology can do), if it's easy for the person to learn how to interact, and if it’s creating a better experience than their alternatives.”

“The gut-check: Is there a benefit in using the technology above and beyond what a person can already do?”

IM: You say that virtual reality doesn’t match basic human expectations. How so, and what’s wrong?

“People are used to navigating websites – they aren’t used to navigating virtual worlds. So what do people do when faced one? Compare it to something they know: the real world. So when a gesture doesn’t behave as you expect, when you can’t see your hand touching the elevator button, or you don’t hear audio cue’s when something meant to catch your attention is behind you – the experience falls flat.”

“The multi-sensory interaction people expect – and need to understand the VR interaction – too often is still lacking today.”

IM: You say that IoT and AI haven’t earned trust. But we continually read that more companies are embracing both. Is there a gap between what organizations are seeking from these technologies and the reality those organizations experience?

Wise: “Companies are being sold on the promise of these more intelligent interactions – but they need customers to be sold, too. The customer wants to these technologies to make their life easier – quiet the overwhelming number of digital connections and information today and help or offload decisions that cost us time or stress.”

“But there are key hurdles:

1) Do you trust any company today to have all your data to make this decision or take that action? To know everything about your whereabouts so it can control your smart home?

2) Do you trust the end interaction? Do I trust a digital doctor with a diagnosis or need a second opinion from a human? Do I trust that the one outfit the algorithm picks is really the best one for me, or do I need to see more?

“Today – those answers are no. So IoT and AI applications can only go so far today. But that doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t test. Do them right, help a customer or solve their problem, make the interaction better than that with a sales associate or unassisted website browsing – and that’s a positive step forwards.”

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