I couldn’t track down the original post, but this was of my favorite tweets I’ve ever come across:
Wired Magazine: “Beware. AI may TAKE OVER THE WORLD.”
AMAZON: “I see you have just bought a wallet, would you like to buy ANOTHER WALLET.”
Personally, it sums up my ultimate faith and occasional skepticism toward artificial intelligence.
Between recommendations and curation from Spotify for music, Netflix for TV, social networks for news, and Amazon for books, algorithms decide half or more of the content that goes into my brain. I’m thoroughy shaped by algorithms, and so is my company. UserMuse relies on AI to target around 90% of our digital ads via lookalike audiences and other tools. This trend in my life and work shows no signs of slowing down.
Of course, every trend has its counter-trend. Mass merchandising has its maker movement; social networks that err on the side of sharing your information have their privacy advocacy counterparts. And while you may not have noticed it, the human touch is making a comeback against algorithms in some areas, while in others it never left.
As people become are increasingly replaced by machines in the average customer experience, it creates an opportunity to stand out by making people available where your competitors don’t — and in some cases they’re sorely needed.
“Talk to a Live Person!”
It may not be the dominant trend among technology companies, but there’s money to made by having people in roles where your customers want them. You know the sense of relief you get when you see “Talk to a live person” next to the support phone number for a business? Personal attention still appeals to customers. Where your company sits on the customer-client spectrum will dictate where you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Promoting the involvement of people in your product beyond just basic issue resolution can be an effective customer experience differentiator for enterprise products. In particular, if any of these scenarios apply to your company, it’s worth asking if you’ve highlight the roles people play in serving your customers.
If your customers crave originality and taste. Though I’m very curious about Amazon’s latest high-tech / high-fashion endeavor, taste-making and trend-setting are where humans still rule. Having a “personal stylist” is part of the appeal of companies like Trunk Club and Stitch Fix. And companies like Quuu do something similar with human-curated content suggestions for social media. Knowing that a person reads your content and evaluates it matters to people who create original works. Human-curated implies quality and nuance we don’t associate with algorithms.
If your customers expect you to care about their business outcomes. In the B2B space, there are products that just have to work and products that have to prove ROI. Excel just has to work. Your new sales enablement app? That has to show ROI, which means whoever made the business case to buy your product is on the hook for that. They’ll expect you to pick up the phone when they need something. If that’s not typical in your market, ask whether being more in touch with customers’ business outcomes can be a differentiator for your company.
If your product’s domain is complicated. It’s easy for enterprise products to get stuck in no-man’s land where their target users are either too busy or not sophisticated enough to use the product. The product teams try to bridge the gap with UX improvements and help docs but to no avail. (Many, many analytics products fall into this category, which is why they all have the word “actionable” on their websites dozens of times.) A support team dedicated to helping customers use the product as opposed to merely troubleshooting bugs is music to buyers’ ears. Unlike chatbots, people can understand incomplete or malformed questions from users and actually help them.
We sometimes forget that the user experienceis only part of the overall customer experience. For software companies, customers’ perception of CX is still heavily influenced by interactions with actual people, especially in the B2B space.
Don’t forget their importance to the product roadmap.