The reality gap


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In the future, customers will be surrounded by an amount of bots. Bots will provide information, analyze data, advise, and eventually manage personal affairs. But there seems to be a reality gap between the customer’s needs and the customer dialogue that companies are focusing on. Companies that are still thinking about improving their hotlines will be unable to meet my needs in the future.

Dear companies, as customers we do not want to communicate with you – sorry

I talked to Stephen Brobst, Chief Technology Officer of Teradata and he said:

I don’t think customers want to communicate. Communication is a waste of time and effort. My digital assistant will communicate on my behalf. And I will communicate with my digital assistant to express my preferences and all that kind of stuff […]. I want to spend my energy with my family and friends and loved ones.”

I agree with him: I never feel like talking to my bank advisor. Or my telecommunication provider. And I also have no the desire to discuss my health insurance or tax returns. I want products to work, services to run smoothly and I don’t want to worry or hassle. Or as Clay Shirky puts it:

Bots will communicate on my behalf

The need for simplicity, speed, and automation is driving bots into the future. Yes, there will still be customers who do not use the latest technology or who prefer human interaction. But they will be a niche existence. 2025 the majority of customer dialogue will be carried out through bots – and this development has already begun: With Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

In our study Customer Dialogue 2025 we have found that in the next few years, we will see a wide variety of narrow AIs that are specialized for isolated areas – from mobility agents and health coaches to financial manager, socializers, and gatekeepers. In the future, the market will consist of a conglomerate of bots to fulfill every single customer need.

And these bots will accompany you every day. They will record your habits, daily routines, preferances, emotions, and last but not least decision-making criteria. Based on this knowledge they will fulfill diverse roles for you.

Dear companies, it is time to deal with AI in customer dialogue – not with improving hotlines

A few days ago I listened to a speech from one of the big telecommunication providers. They talked about how they have been able to automate the answers to their service questions in recent months. It was great. But from my point of view, it looked like a reality gap.

The customer of the future doesn’t want to communicate. So it does not really matter whether you are able to answer my question automatically. And it gets worse. Due to tight daily schedules, everyone will take active steps to prevent unnecessary interactions. Time is all of our greatest asset and its value will continue to increase – up to the point where every activity that is not directly chosen will be perceived as harassment.

The consequences: Switching providers might be the most drastic step. But it is likely that customers will gradually delegate tasks to their intelligent bots. They will handle service issues. The consequence for companies? They will lose the direct access to the customer.

So I sincerely hope we will stop talking about improving old ways to communicate with customers and design the customer dialogue of 2025.



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One Reply to “The reality gap”

  1. Ben says:

    Thank you very much for your blog. Awesome food for thought!

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