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ROB MURRAY & DEREK KOPEN
EXPERIENCE
AUTOMATION:
USINGTECHNOLOGY
TOAMPLIFYTHE
HUMANTOUCH
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 2
What does “good” service actually
mean in the digital age?
The answer t...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 3
1Playing lip service
Concierge experiences should
be crafted
A common m...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 4
How to get it right
To aid marketers in successfully
translating the co...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 5
1When translating a service analogy,
there are many service offerings t...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 6
How human is too human when trans-
lating service analogies into digita...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 7
2One of the most effective ways to
deliver a true concierge-like servic...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 8
FIGURE08
3Finally, there are some service offerings
that have a tendenc...
TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 9
Leveraging the power
of analogies
So what does all of this mean? Simply...
Derek Kopen
Senior Associate Marketing Strategy & Analysis,
SapientNitro New York
dkopen2@sapient.com
Derek is passionate ...
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Experience Automation: Using Technology to Amplify the Human Touch | By Rob Murray, Director of Consumer Intelligence; Derek Kopen, Senior Associate Marketing Strategy & Analysis

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What does “good” service actually mean in the digital age?

The answer to this question is not an easy one. Today’s fickle customers want what they want when they want it. One minute they might want a human to answer the phone while another they wish to resolve an issue without any human interaction at all.

One way to answer the above question is to look at an industry that has stood at the forefront of customer service for centuries and is currently at the center of the customer experience battleground: the concierge. As brands attempt to appropriate the language of personalized and bespoke services, they are increasingly rebranding digital service capabilities a “concierge offerings.”

In digital marketing, leveraging analogies to reimagine products and services is a powerful tool. Analogies link the new and unfamiliar with the common and relatable. Studying the concierge, for example, reveals a range of ways that brands can use technology to amplify, preserve, and automate the human touch. However, while the concierge is a particularly powerful analogy, evoking this concept in digital must be done carefully.


By Rob Murray, Director of Consumer Intelligence, and Derek Kopen, Senior Associate Marketing Strategy & Analysis for SapientNitro in New York.

Published in: Technology

Experience Automation: Using Technology to Amplify the Human Touch | By Rob Murray, Director of Consumer Intelligence; Derek Kopen, Senior Associate Marketing Strategy & Analysis

  1. 1. ROB MURRAY & DEREK KOPEN EXPERIENCE AUTOMATION: USINGTECHNOLOGY TOAMPLIFYTHE HUMANTOUCH
  2. 2. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 2 What does “good” service actually mean in the digital age? The answer to this question is not an easy one. Today’s fickle customers want what they want when they want it. One minute they might want a human to answer the phone while another they wish to resolve an issue without any human interaction at all. One way to answer the above question is to look at an industry that has stood at the forefront of customer service for centuries and is currently at the center of the customer experience battleground: the concierge. As brands attempt to appropriate the language of personalized and bespoke services, they are increa- singly rebranding digital service capa- bilities as “concierge offerings.” In digital marketing, leveraging analogies to reimagine products and services is a powerful tool. Analogies link the new and unfamiliar with the common and relatable. Studying the concierge, for example, reveals a range of ways that brands can use technology to amplify, preserve, and automate the human touch. However, while the concierge is a particularly powerful analogy, evoking this concept in digital must be done carefully. A brief history of the concierge As the concierge analogy is re-purposed – some might say exploited – throughout the digital landscape, it is worth reflecting on the origins and evolution of the con- cierge, as well as what brands should be doing to uphold this age-old craft’s long tradition. The concierge practice dates back to the Middle Ages, evolving from the French phrase “comte des cierges” which translates to “keeper of the candles.” Centuries ago, these indi- viduals were in charge of maintaining the candles for all of the events in the castles that they served and ensuring that guests had everything they needed during their stays. Fast-forward to the early 20th century. Increasing rail and steamship travel caused a boom in the international tourism industry, creating a new and growing need for hotel and travel assistance. The concierge consequently became a permanent component of leading hotel guest services.
  3. 3. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 3 1Playing lip service Concierge experiences should be crafted A common mistake brands make when creating digital counterparts for the concierge analogy is playing lip service to the term concierge – simply labeling a feature or service as “concierge” without actually providing a concierge- like experience. By labeling a service as “concierge”, brands set high expectations in terms of quality and personalization. When brands do not pay off on these promises, they create a disconnect between their services and customers (whose expectations then remain unmet). In worst-case scenarios, we see companies rebranding 1-800 telephone numbers or website pages as “concierge” experiences when, in reality, these features have not been crafted in a way that is deserving of the label concierge. 2Misinterpreting Concierge doesn’t mean exclusive A second mistake that brands make when translating the concierge analogy into digital is misinterpreting the concept – using the concierge analogy in a way that does not align with the qualities or offerings of a true concierge. One common way that brands misinterpret the concierge analogy is by leveraging the concept to solely indicate status. In an attempt to stratify service offerings, we see brands leveraging the concierge concept as a cheap form of segmentation. This then serves as a barrier of entry for premium services – an indication of status reserved for “gold members.” Ultimately, this misinterpretation alters the open -source, democratic nature of the concierge. While concierges are synonymous with premium service, their roles have evolved into offering high quality service to each and every hotel guest. When it comes to the concierge, personalization and high quality do not mean exclusivity. 3Over-humanizing Concierge services should be authentic, not robotic A third risk brands take when transpo- sing the concierge analogy into digital environments is attempting to mimic the human concierge – to replicate human concierge offerings on a one-to- one basis. Brands assume a big risk by placing (what is hoped to be) a human face on digital experiences. For example, and in many cases, the artificial human voice qualities built into Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems lead listeners to believe that they are interacting with an actual human, as opposed to a machine. After expecting IVR technology to function in a completely human way, customers are often frustrated when the technology does not meet their expectations. Creating such branded, digital experi- ences that mimic human connections increases expectations around the experience – along with frustrations if those experiences fail to deliver human experiences. Where are today’s brands going wrong? Which brings us to today. In our complex, omnichannel world, brands should be aware of the power and pitfalls associated with casual use of the concierge analogy. The concierge has a reputation for delivering under pressure, solving difficult problems, and becoming a guest’s trusted confidant. In contemporary marketing conditions, brands are making three key mistakes when translating the concierge analogy into a digital equivalent.
  4. 4. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 4 How to get it right To aid marketers in successfully translating the concierge analogy (or any human service analogy) and navigating through this world of digital complexities, we developed a three- tiered model to explore the interplay between the digital and human (see Figure 4). Automate tends to make more sense with high-volume, routine activities (think ATMs), while Preserve is particularly powerful with lower- volume, highly-customized interactions (think clothing recommendations). Amplify is, in some ways, the most in- teresting of the three. The ability to use digital tools in real time to amplify the human touch has been made possible by the dropping prices of technology and increased computing power. After identifying an appropriate analogy as your source of inspiration, this model Learning from concierges: Three options for marketers to consider Rather than choosing only one tier when translating brand offerings, marketers should select the suite of options that best caters to their portfolios of products and/or services. In fact, many organizations might use all three tiers. FIGURE04 Preserve Automate Amplify VOLUME OF ACTIVITY MORE HUMAN AUTOMATED aids in developing tactics to authentically translate and implement that analogy in digital (see Figure 5). Read on for more details about each tier, as well as examples. Concierge experiences must balance technology and human touch It should come as no surprise that technology is disruptive – pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. And the general trend is clear: more automation of more complex tasks and a lesser amount of human touch. But how far is too far? Which experiences must still have a human touch or risk losing the brand’s relationship to the customer? FIGURE05 Lower Complexityoftask Higher Degree of human touch Lower Higher Number of times a customer accesses the service per month < 5 5-10 10-20 Automate Amplify Preserve Airbnb’s Local Companion Mobile Deposit ATMs Zappos Call Center > 20 Disney MagicBands OSHbot Waze Siri Cortana Trunk Club’s Personal Stylists Yobot JD.com (China) Human-Enabled Pickup Facebook’s “M”
  5. 5. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 5 1When translating a service analogy, there are many service offerings that digital can actually do better than a human. These offerings should be repli- cated or automated with digital. For the concierge, these offerings are mostly simple tasks, including delivering amenities, finding products, scheduling, giving directions, placing orders, and providing discounts. Some brands have begun to automate concierge offerings, freeing up human employees’ time to deal with more nuanced or pressing customer service issues. Yotel installed “Yobot”, a robotic luggage handler that picks up, stores, and retrieves guests’ luggage. Starwood introduced “Botlers”, robotic butlers that deliver amenities to guests’ rooms in lieu of actual humans. And Lowe’s is testing “OSHbot, a robotic sales assistant that identifies and locates merchandise throughout the store (see Figure 6). Automation is a key tool in businesses designing the customer experience of the future. But leaders must be careful not to automate the humanity out of an experience entirely. AUTOMATE: DIGITAL FIGURE06 YOBOT Yotel’s “friendly and efficient luggage- storing robot” has been placing luggage in dedicated lockers for guests since 2011. OSHBOT OSHbot is the first of a new generation of mobile, semi-intelligent robots. OSHbot – being tested since October, 2014, in just one Lowe’s hardware store in San Jose, California – greets guests and helps them find products. Even after a year, it remains in the pilot phase. Automated concierge offerings Technology is both one of our greatest assets and biggest threats. In some cases, touch-screen kiosks are completely replacing concierges. – Concierge, The Ritz Carlton NYC
  6. 6. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 6 How human is too human when trans- lating service analogies into digital features? When deciding the right combination between human and digital interactions, it is the responsibility of the brand to determine which aspects of an analogy should be translated in digital and which aspects should, in no way, be converted digitally. The infamous “uncanny valley” model addresses this human-to-digital tension. First described by robotics professor Masahiro Mori, this phenomenon depicts the point at which robotic features look and act nearly human, HOW HUMAN IS TOO HUMAN? TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY Cortana asks for permission before anticipating users’ wants and needs, or tracking additional activity on devices. FIGURE02 Is this where you work? If so, I can give you better directions and suggestions. YES NO Would you like to track flight VS23? VS FLIGHT 23 LHR to LAX YES NO The following graph plots the emotional response of a viewer against the anthropomorphism (the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities) of a robot. The “uncanny valley” is represented by the dip in the graph, a region of discomfort towards robots that seem “almost” human, but not quite. This feeling of discomfort is amplified by movement. FIGURE01 but not exactly like a human. The resulting disappointment leads to feelings of uneasiness and revulsion in the viewer (see Figure 1). One potential solution is shown with Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana. The software – which is bundled with Windows 10, Xbox One, and Windows Phones – has built-in, permission-asking functionalities that prevent users from becoming unpleasantly surprised at how much their devices know about them, while also ensuring that the software is capable of anticipating customers’ wants and needs (see Figure 2). – Familiarity + Human Likeness Moving Still Industrial Robot 50% 100% Humanoid Robot Stuffed Animal Healthy PersonBunraku Puppet Prosthetic Hand Corpse Zombie Uncanny Valley Source: Karl F. MacDorman & Steven O. Entezari. “Individual differences predict sensitivity to the uncanny valley.” http://www.macdorman.com/kfm/writings/pubs/MacDorman-2015-Individual-differences-Interaction-Studies.pdf
  7. 7. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 7 2One of the most effective ways to deliver a true concierge-like service is by amplifying humanity with digital technology. Certain service offerings cannot be purely replicated with digital, but can be further amplified when the human touch is combined with digital. For the experience creator, these offer- ings include the ability to filter informa- tion, collaborate with consumers, leverage networks of contacts, and make relevant recommendations. Both Facebook and Airbnb recently unveiled concierge-like functionalities, providing users with personalized service amplified by actual humans AMPLIFY: DIGITAL + HUMAN TOUCH “M” FACEBOOK’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT “M” is Facebook Messenger App’s personal digital assistant, similar to Siri and Cortana. It is “powered by AI that’s trained and supervised by peo- ple,” putting it somewhere between Automate and Amplify. Hi! I’m M FIGURE07 Some service offerings can be further amplified when the human touch is combined with digital. “LOCAL COMPANION” AIRBNB’S IN-APP CONCIERGE Although it was dropped in early 2015, “Local Companion” was Airbnb’s beta test of an in-app concierge service that allowed you to access individuals at your destina- tion (who were likely paid a small fee for answering) and ask them questions. Airbnb has also been running a traditional phone-based concierge service since 2011. Askaquestion! DISNEY’S “MAGICBANDS” Disney’s “MagicBands” enable staff members to greet guests by name, wish them a happy birthday, and speak to them in their native languages. that answer users’ questions regarding recommendations, traffic, assistance, and more. On the financial services front, Bank of America branches now include ATM machines that connect users with virtual humans to help them with various needs. Disney’s RFID- and NFC-enabled “MagicBands”, on the other hand, act as guests’ constant companions throughout their stays. Supported by data, the bands seam- lessly create “magic” moments, enabling staff to recognize guests by their first names, wish them a happy birthday, and identify and speak to them in their native languages (see Figure 7).
  8. 8. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 8 FIGURE08 3Finally, there are some service offerings that have a tendency to fall flat when translated into digital and should be preserved for humans. In the case of the concierge, these are sacred traits that have been passed down and ingrained for centuries – things such as empathy, friendship, loyalty, and discretion. When technology is strategically used to both replicate and amplify mundane, everyday, repeatable service functions, the human concierge can then dedicate more time and energy to those services that are inherently sacred to his or her craft – services that technology cannot genuinely follow through on (at least not yet). Technology, rather than render human skills obsolete, highlights which human traits are most valued. JD.com, the Amazon-like online market- place in China, is seeing success with a human-centered strategy. JD.com has set up a number of automated pick-up lockers, along with mobile pick-up stations and self-standing pick-up stores. Unlike Amazon, however, JD.com’s lock- ers also include a person to help locate the package, interact with shoppers, and upsell on other merchandise. To encourage this behavior, and opportunity, they offer free gifts to consumers that opt for a human-enabled pick-up over the other options. A good face-to-face experience becomes the opportunity. Trunk Club, a men’s curated clothing delivery service, matches every customer with a personal stylist. After an online or face-to-face interview, the stylist handpicks clothing that is delivered to the customer’s door. The service leverages digital to create consumers’ style profiles and then connects them PRESERVE: HUMAN TOUCH with experienced stylists. The stylists then get to know users over time through a consistent and ongoing relationship, which allows them to truly understand their customers’ clothing needs and preferences (see Figure 8). JD.COM’S HUMAN-ENABLED PICKUP Instead of offering only automated lockers, JD.com (an Amazon-like marketplace in China) offers free gifts to customers who choose a human- enabled pick-up. A good face-to-face experience becomes an opportunity to cross- and upsell, helping to cover the cost. TRUNKCLUB’SPERSONALSTYLISTS Trunk Club’s personal stylists start with a video call or face-to-face interview, and fulfill digitally. They combine Amplify and Preserve. Human concierge offerings Technology has been the biggest change I’ve seen in this industry. Today, people have so many more outlets, whether it is OpenTable or Yelp. Our role now means finding bars and restaurants off the beaten path, which entails us actually going to the place and getting a sense of what the vibe is like. – Concierge, Andaz Hotel NYC
  9. 9. TRENDS AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY & STORY 9 Leveraging the power of analogies So what does all of this mean? Simply put, it means that as a digital marketer, protecting the digital expression of your brand is now a part of your job descrip- tion. As we have already shown, there is an inherent tension between humanity and technology at almost every touch- point between you and your customers. You have to balance the realities of ROI, costs, and business goals. But this is also an incredible opportunity. The opportunity lies in becoming incredibly aware of all of the digital touchpoints throughout your brand’s customer journeys, experience models, and personas. Then, layer onto these models the lenses of Automate, Amplify, and/or Preserve. Great strategy comes from situational awareness. By visualizing your experi- ences as much as possible through the eyes of your consumers, you can uncover the trade-offs in the interactions – however small – that might take too much humanity out of an experience. Along every touchpoint, you should question, “Why are we doing it this way?” Future experience automation As robots and voice interfaces become more ubiquitous, this humanity-versus- technology issue will become ever more apparent. These digital interfaces are the front door of your brand. You should constantly challenge the trade- offs that you have to make in terms of scale, cost-savings, engagement, experience, revenue, and more. And lastly, look outside your industry. Whether you operate within the B2B or B2C space, your audiences are human. And they are increasingly influenced by premier digital experiences like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now. Keep in mind that some of these expe- riences don’t yet exist, but are already deeply impacting our expectations. From TARS in Interstellar to JARVIS in Ironman, science fiction is often an expression of our desires. And, so far, it is telling us that we all crave human interactions, even with robots. Remember this as you fight the urge to hide that 1-800 number behind a series of “helpful” FAQs.
  10. 10. Derek Kopen Senior Associate Marketing Strategy & Analysis, SapientNitro New York dkopen2@sapient.com Derek is passionate about consumer insights and how they can be used to influence business strategy and improve people’s lives. He utilizes his experience in research and strategy to collaborate with cross- functional teams of technologists, UX designers, ethnographers, and brand strategists to deepen and grow relationships between consumers and brands. SapientNitro® , part of Publicis.Sapient, is a new breed of agency redefining storytelling for an always-on world. We’re changing the way our clients engage today’s connected consumers by uniquely creating integrated, immersive stories across brand communications, digital engagement, and omnichannel commerce. We call it our Storyscaping® approach, where art and imagination meet the power and scale of systems thinking. SapientNitro’s unique combination of creative, brand, and technology expertise results in one global team collaborating across disciplines, perspectives, and continents to create game-changing success for our Global 1000 clients, such as Chrysler, Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, Lufthansa, Target, and Vodafone, in thirty-one cities across The Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. For more information, visit www.sapientnitro.com. SapientNitro and Storyscaping are registered service marks of Sapient Corporation. COPYRIGHT 2016 SAPIENT CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. INSIGHTS WHERE TECHNOLOGY & STORY MEET The Insights publication features the marketing intelligence, trend forecasts, and innovative recommendations of boundary-breaking thought leaders. The SapientNitro Insights app brings that provocative collection – now in its digital form – to your on-the-go fingertips. Download the full report at sapientnitro.com/insights and, for additional interactive and related content, download the SapientNitro Insights app. Rob Murray Director of Consumer Intelligence, SapientNitro New York rmurray@sapient.com Rob leads the experience strategy team for SapientNitro’s Consumer Intelligence practice. The practice uses best-in-class strategy and insight methods, frameworks and tools to provide rich stra- tegic insights informed by a contextual understand- ing of people’s behaviors. His team of strategists help clients drive transformative omni-channel customer experiences and digital business transformation.

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