Only a few years ago, robotics and artificial intelligence seemed like technologies from a far flung future taken straight from the latest sci-fi movie or novel.
That future is now reality, with both playing central roles across a range of day-to-day instances.
In this new age of technology, Asia-Pacific is leading the way – and is on track to account for 70 per cent of global investments in robotics by 2020 according to IDC Research.
The initial focus of this new frontier has been business-applicable iterations like chatbots - computer programs designed to simulate conversation with humans, and often used by the retail sector.
More recently we’ve begun to see a growing number of projects focus on humanoid robots – creations that really capture the attention of everyday consumers.
These new innovations are shaping a new Customer Experience (CX) by changing how customers interact with brands.
For instance, Hilton Hotels worked with IBM to build a concierge robot named Nao. Closer to home, The Commonwealth Bank and property group Stockland launched Chip; a humanoid robot who makes jokes, shakes hands and can speak nine languages.
Not one to miss out on the excitement, Optus recently launched our own robot – Sammy. Initially, Sammy is helping our employees by taking their lunch and coffee orders. But in the not too distant future Sammy will transform the CX delivered by Optus. The robot is being developed to become the retail store concierge; completing customer orders, processing payments and answering general queries.
Despite the circuits and wires, we see Sammy as furthering the human element within the experience Optus provides.
The business case for CX
CX is growing in importance for businesses, with recent Gartner findings showing 89 per cent of marketers expect CX to be the key differentiator for their business by 2017.
Finding innovative ways to create unique CX is an ongoing priority for businesses, and one which robotics and AI can address.
The benefits of humanoid robots in building a positive experience are numerous. A study conducted by research company Fifth Quadrant found 77 per cent of Australian consumers are comfortable using a chatbot to quickly find information, rather than searching on the net.
Further, some customers enjoy the novelty factor of engaging with a robot.
However, for every customer who enjoys the idea of engaging with a robot there is likely to be one that doesn’t. Given the technology that powers them is relatively new, there is also much to be learned before they are widely used
Customers may also feel strange speaking to a machine – especially given their limitations in terms of empathy – and will refuse to engage. In Australia in particular, humanoid robots are not commonplace.
Bridging CX and innovation
If robotics and AI are the future of delivering CX, how can businesses focus on developing innovative experiences while still addressing consumer concerns towards robotic interactions?
This is where having a solid CX design process is significant. At Optus, our wholesale service experience is designed to keep the customer at the centre of all product innovation and allows our experts to step into their shoes when exploring an idea.
In practice, it involves bringing customers into product development and co-creating during the testing journey. We start with a discussion guide built to find out exactly what their thoughts are on an issue or tension point. We then engage in a discussion and compile those findings into data we can analyse and use to inform ideas.
The next part of the process is a continuous loop of iteration – we ask for feedback. Getting our customers to comment directly on the plan of action means we can address issues early and get a pulse check to see if we’re on the right path. It’s key to our approach. Using customer feedback to inform feature designs ensures new innovations really do match expectations, rather than being created in a vacuum.
These are elements we keep in mind as we push innovation within our business.
The CX design process at Optus Wholesale
Is technology the future of CX?
Despite our enthusiasm for the potential of these smart machines, we still see human beings playing the leading role ensuring the customer are at the heart of what we do.
There is an opportunity for businesses – big and small – to be at the forefront of changes which improve customer experience. But for it to be successful, everything we do needs to be built around the consumer.
Keep updated with some of Optus Wholesale’s developments that will solve the communication problems of the future. View Here