Can you really clone team members and still avoid an” uncanny valley” in your customer experience?
Art teaches us! How crazy is this? Hiroshi Ishiguro literally has his life like clone give his speeches while he directs it from his PC according to an article in the Guardian called “Android clone v human: will you be able to tell the difference at work” by Andrew Stafford, Nov. 2, 2016. Can you prevent an “uncanny valley” from occurring when your customer service robots become too human like?
Good question. The more precisely technology replicates human looks and behaviors, the more likely you will trigger an “uncanny valley” or an unexpected sense of concern or creepy feeling. McDonald’s just launched their drive thru test with AI with initial feedback has been positive. Yes, make the customer experience as perfect as you can. But factor in that uncanny valley. World expert Hiroshi Ishiguro is as much as artist as a technologist as he works to make robot completely life like. As you pick through all these solutions, just factor in the impact if something is too human like along the way.
Let’s talk about
– The Uncanny Valley
– Hiroshi Ishiguro
– Customer service
– Steps to avoid the uncanny valley
1970 theory of the uncanny valley
Believe it or not, the theory of the uncanny valley dates back to 1970 when Masashiro Mori formulated the theory that as things became more lifelike, there was an unsettling emotion that develops. It has been tested out over time to be true. There is a dip in an individual’s emotion the more a robot looks human
Hiroshi Ishiguro from the Itelligent Robotics Laboratory at Ocsaka University, Japan is an artist in his own right, creating very life like robots. He believes that you can create a robot that could be mistaken for a human at least during brief encounters. This art if being perfected by him and others around the world now at rapid speeds.
As you move towards drones, robotics and AI, even IF it is better service, does this take away from your service level in any way? Do you lose that personal connection? Will your customers miss dealing with a human being? You might want to have some overall guidelines in mind.
– Replace with technology where it really doesn’t matter if a human does it (We already talk to a box when ordering at a drive thru. It could easily be a robot for most of us.)
– Create new services – Have a robot walk customers to that item they are looking for in the grocery or hardware store. Today, most of the time, team members just tell you which isle. Have robots actually take customers all the way to the item would be wonderful. I’d easily walk with a human like robot if it saved me time looking for it myself.
– Test and retest new solutions to uncover any unease robots might cause.
– Find a balance. Self-driving cars are a bit creepy but having a robot latch on to the front of a car and park it at the airport sounds wonderful.
– Don’t ignore it. If you know your customers might have an uncanny valley, think of a way to mitigate the feeling during an adjustment time.
During these times where we will be replacing humans with robots etc…, who would have thought you would have to be careful when things are too perfect. But you do. Plan for it.
How to avoid an uncanny valley
I am no expert so read up! According to Wikipedia you need to make it real. If the robot doesn’t exactly look human, acknowledge that by mixing up real and programmed voices. If a robot looks really life like, the expectations for how well it will perform tasks will be super high as well. And finally, facial features should not be exaggerated. Don’t make the eyes too big just because you can. Keep it simple. Talk to experts about this phenomenon and make it fit for your customers. And yes, I have to say it, have the humans step it it up and provide even better service. We can help make sure that is happening with a mystery shopping program quickly and easily.
Keep Moving Forward
I think all of this is fascinating! Everyone wants better call center service. Move fast to fix all those broken voice response systems. And nicely implemented AI anywhere would be welcomed. If service is improved by AI or Robotics, bring it on! Mary Furrie, CEO, Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers, www.qams.com – helping corporations make sure service is consistent!