Tag Archives: customer journey mapping

The more AI we become, the more human we need to be

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Why are AI assistants given human-like names?

Apple provides Siri[i]. Amazon has Alexa[ii]. Samsung features Bixby[iii]. And there are literally dozens of other examples, in use both publicly and privately.

The attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities is known as anthropomorphism. Attributing human intent to non-human entities, such as pets, robots, or other entities, is one way that people make sense of the behaviors and events that they encounter. We as humans are a social species with a brain that evolved to quickly process social information.[iv]

There are numerous examples of anthropomorphism with which we are familiar, and honestly, don’t even think twice about. In Toy Story[v], the toys can talk. In Animal Farm[vi], the animals overthrow their masters and govern themselves.  In Winnie-the-Pooh[vii], Christoper Robbin interacts with Winnie, a talking bear.

Is this why AI-enabled chatbots and digital assistants are given human-like names? To make us want to talk to them? To make it easy to interact with them? To influence our thinking and behaviors?

Without over psycho-analyzing the situation (and I am far from qualified to do so), the answer to the above questions is “yes”.

The good – and not so good – of today’s AI capabilities

AI capabilities have been around for quite some time. While philosophers and mathematicians began laying the groundwork for understanding human thought long ago[viii] , the advent of computers in the 1940s provided the technology needed to power AI. The Turing Test, introduced in 1950, provided a method for measuring a machine’s ability to exhibit behavior that is human-like. The term and field of “artificial intelligence”, coined by John McCarthy in 1956, soon followed.

The past few years have seen a dramatic expansion of AI capabilities, from machine learning to natural language processing to generative AI. That expansion has resulted in impactful and valuable capabilities for humans. AI is well-suited for managing tedious and repetitive tasks. AI can be used to initiate automated actions based on the detection of pre-defined conditions. AI can facilitate continual learning across an organization based on the data captured from interactions with and use of technology. And most recently, AI is developing a growing capability to respond to more complex queries and generating responses and prompts to aid humans in decision-making.

But despite all the progress with AI, there are some things that are not so good. Miscommunication can occur due to limitations of a chatbot or an AI assistant in understanding user intent or context. A simple example is the number of ways we as humans describe a “computer”, including “PC”, “laptop”, “monitor”, or “desktop” must be explicitly defined for an AI model to recognize the equivalence. AI is not able to exhibit empathy or the human touch, resulting in frustration, because humans feel that they are not being heard or understood.[ix]  AI is not able to handle complex situations or queries that require nuanced understanding; as a result, AI may provide a generic or irrelevant response.[x]  The quality of responses from AI is directly dependent upon the quality of the input data being used – and many organizations lack both the quality and quantity of data required by AI to provide the level of functionality expected by humans. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the expanding use and adoption of AI within organizations has resulted in fear and anxiety among employees regarding job loss.

Techniques that will help humanize AI

Several techniques can help organizations better design human interactions with AI. Here are a few to consider that can help humanize AI.

  • Employing design thinking techniques – Design thinking is an approach for designing solutions with the user in mind. A design thinking technique for understanding human experience is the use of prototypes, or early models of solutions, to evaluate a concept or process. Involving the people that will be interacting with AI through prototypes can identify any likes or encountered friction in the use of AI technology.
  • Mapping the customer journeys that (will) interact with AI – A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their interactions and relationship with an organization. It helps an organization understand the steps that customers take – both seen and unseen – when they interact with a business.[xi]  Using customer journey maps helps with developing the needed empathy with the customer’s experience by identify points of frustration and delight.
  • Thinking in terms of the experience – What is the experience that end-users need to have when interacting with AI? Starting AI adoption from this perspective provides the overarching direction for making the experience of interacting with AI more “human”.

Start here to make AI use more human

AI adoption presents exciting opportunities for increasing productivity and improving decision-making. But with any technology adoptions, there is the risk of providing humans with suboptimal experiences with AI. Here are three suggestions for enabling good human experiences with the use of AI.

  • Define AI strategy – Success with AI begins with a well-defined strategy that identifies how AI will enable achievement of business goals and objectives. But AI success is not just business success or technical success with AI models, but also whether users are happy with AI and perceive it to be a valid solution. [xii]
  • Map current customer journeys – Mapping current customer journeys may expose where user interactions are problematic and may benefit from the introduction of AI.
  • Start and continually monitor the experienceHappy Signals, an experience management platform for IT, states that “humans are the best sensors”.  Humans are working in technological environments that are in a constant state of change and evolution. Actively seeking out and acting upon feedback from humans regarding their experiences with technology raises awareness of the user experience and fosters a more human-centric approach to technology use and adoption.

The best way to ensure that AI-enabled technologies are more human is to design them with empathy. Design thinking, customer journey mapping, and experience management will help ensure that AI stays in touch with the “human” side.

Need help with customer journey mapping? Perhaps using design thinking techniques to develop solution-rich, human centered solutions for addressing challenges with customer and employee experience? We can help – contact Tedder Consulting for more information.

[i] “Siri” is a trademark of Apple, Inc.

[ii] “Alexa” is a trademark of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

[iii] “Bixby” is a trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

[iv] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anthropomorphism , retrieved March 2024.

[v] Lasseter, John. Toy Story. Buena Vista Pictures, 1995.

[vi] Orwell, George. Animal Farm. Collins Classics, 2021.

[vii] Milne, A.A., 1882-1956. Winnie-the-Pooh. E.P. Dutton & Co., 1926.

[viii] Wikipedia. “History of artificial intelligence”. Retrieved March 2024.

[ix] https://www.contactfusion.co.uk/the-challenges-of-using-ai-chatbots-problems-and-solutions-explored , retrieved March 2024.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] https://www.qualtrics.com/experience-management/customer/customer-journey-mapping  , retrieved March 2024.

[xii] Ganesan, Kavita. “The Business Case for AI: A Leader’s Guide to AI Strategies, Best Practices, & Real-World Applications”. Opinosis Analytics Publishing, 2022.

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Where Is IT On Your Customer Journey Map?

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In today’s digital world, it’s imperative that organizations create and deliver world-class customer experiences. The Amazons and Zappos of the world have changed how customers want and expect to interact with organizations, especially online. Customers expect continual updates, easy to use self-service options, and streamlined processes, from start to finish.

This means organizations must research, understand and optimize every part of their customer’s journey. This process of documenting a customer’s journey was once thought to be a job for externally-facing departments, such as marketing or customer service.

But this siloed style of operations won’t work today. Today the modern C-suite must work together to create customer journey maps and, most importantly, IT must include themselves on those maps. The good news is that the door is wide open for CIOs to grab this opportunity.

What are Customer Journey Maps?

Before IT can make sure they’re properly included on customer journey maps, let’s address what we are referring to when we discuss these maps.

Customer journey maps are documents that help organizations visualize and understand how they attract and retain customers, and how customers interact with the organization. These documents depict each touchpoint a prospective customer may have with an organization. Touchpoints include interactions like a customer visiting their website, placing an order, contacting customer support, and leaving a review. Customer journey mapping provides a 360-degree view of a customer’s wants and needs.

Why are Customer Journey Maps important?

As I pointed out earlier, customers expect world-class experiences from every organization they interact with, no matter how large or small. According to Oracle’s Customer Experience Impact Report, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better experience with a brand. They expect a seamless purchase experience and if they don’t find it with your organization, they will quickly go find it somewhere else. The internet has limitless options for today’s consumers, so the best way to win is to provide a flawless experience.

Additionally, we live in an interconnected world, and a bad customer experience often doesn’t stop as soon as the person hits “cancel order.” Many customers will take to social media and review sites to broadcast about the experience, which could negatively impact future sales with other potential customers. According to Temkin, 30% of consumers tell the company after a bad experience. But 50% of those consumers tell their friends, and 15% of those consumers provide feedback online. It’s easy to see how a single bad customer experience doesn’t just impact one customer.

A customer journey map can also reduce the number of assumptions that your organization is likely making about your customers. It’s natural for certain biases to exist when it comes to how your audience interacts with your organization. It’s important to look at the data instead of trusting the beliefs or views of internal teams.

Why does IT need to play a role?

Perhaps a decade ago, it was unlikely that IT would have been a part of these customer journey mapping experiences. But today, IT has to be a part of the exercise because technology is a key component in delivering a seamless customer experience.

For example, one of the leading trends in customer experience is personalization. 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer a personalized experience. To create a personalized experience, like offering relevant product suggestions or targeted ads, requires the use of technology to track and store data about a consumer’s behavior. Even though this may sound like a marketing task, it will be IT that will be implementing the technology and managing the data. Therefore, IT must understand why this technology is necessary and have a role in how it should be implemented and leveraged.

What Should IT Do to Be Involved?

Creating a customer journey map is a collaborative project. The best first step any CIO can take to be a part of this project is to break down any silos or any competing goals that may exist with other departments. No single department can “own” the customer journey map. Either everyone is on board and in consensus or you have a flawed map.

The actual creation of the map requires both quantitative and qualitative data. Since CIOs and IT rarely directly interacts with consumers, they won’t have much qualitative data. However, they will have quantitative data found within the systems of engagement and systems of record. The CIO should deliver whatever data they may have about the customer experience, whether that is customer analytics or website data.

Finally, it’s important to remember the overall goal of this experience: it’s to delight the customer in every phase of their journey with you. IT can often hold preconceived notions of what’s the best technology or tool or they can have doubts over whether technology is necessary. These beliefs will only put up roadblocks in the process. Let the needs of the customer drive this process. As Steve Jobs once said back in 1995, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology — not the other way around.” For CIOs to succeed they must open their eyes to the journey the customer is on and then work to support it.

Customer journey mapping is an important exercise that every organization should do and IT shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to help shape the experience for the customer. By bringing the right data, clarifying the needs and understanding the wants, IT can deliver the technology that will enable fantastic customer experiences and support the company in their business goals.

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