Up­date: dig­i­tal hu­mans

De­but­ing with help from New Zealand com­pany FaceMe.

Comms MEA - - Contents -

Voda­fone be­comes the world’s first telco with a dig­i­tal hu­man. So what, ex­actly, comes next?

THE FU­TURE IS DIG­I­TAL.

“Dig­i­tal hu­mans” are seem­ingly all the rage these days. There’s Air New Zealand’s So­phie, brought to life thanks to Soul Ma­chines, who can in­ter­act with cus­tomers on­line with fa­cial ex­pres­sions far be­yond any­thing a chat­bot or the likes of Siri, Cor­tana or Alexa could ever hope to achieve.

But as in­no­va­tive as So­phie is (and, ad­mit­tedly, she’s far more life­like than the CGI re­cre­ation of the late Peter Cush­ing in the 2016 Star Wars movie “Rogue One”), “she” is also far from alone. For in­stance, the bank ANZ has Jamie, who looks eerily sim­i­lar to So­phie (pos­si­bly be­cause Soul Ma­chines also created “her”).

And now we can add a telco em­ployee to the dig­i­tal hu­man pop­u­la­tion.

Voda­fone has an­nounced it will be the first global telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany to launch an “in­tel­li­gent dig­i­tal hu­man,” pow­ered by New Zealand com­pany (and Soul Ma­chines ri­val) FaceMe.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, the launch is an­other ex­am­ple of “how Voda­fone is work­ing to trans­form cus­tomer ser­vice at ev­ery touch point and of­fer en­gag­ing, per­son­alised dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Voda­fone’s dig­i­tal hu­man, whose iden­tity will be re­vealed in the com­ing months, will en­able cus­tomers to ben­e­fit from self-ser­vice op­tions and free up time for staff to ad­dress more com­plex cus­tomer needs.

Voda­fone is work­ing with FaceMe to de­sign, build and de­liver the dig­i­tal hu­man and to learn how this could meet the needs of cus­tomers to­day and in the fu­ture.

Voda­fone di­rec­tor of cus­tomer op­er­a­tions He­len van Or­ton ex­plains: “Great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence hap­pens through mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions. FaceMe has evolved AI tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate in­tel­li­gent dig­i­tal hu­mans that are hu­man-like in their ap­pear­ance and in­ter­ac­tion. Thanks to ma­chine learn­ing, they are ca­pa­ble of con­tin­u­ously learn­ing how to an­tic­i­pate our cus­tomers’ needs and bet­ter serve them.”

Van Or­ton adds the dig­i­tal hu­man will sup­port

Great AI should be de­signed to en­hance what hu­mans do. We’re lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy as a tool to sup­port and em­power our staff, by re­mov­ing repet­i­tive tasks through au­to­ma­tion while still main­tain­ing the el­e­ment of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion and to solve cus­tomer pain points with dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion.”

He­len van Or­ton, Voda­fone di­rec­tor of cus­tomer op­er­a­tions

front­line staff at Voda­fone in de­liv­er­ing ex­cep­tional cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tions.

“Great AI should be de­signed to en­hance what hu­mans do. We’re lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy as a tool to sup­port and em­power our staff, by re­mov­ing repet­i­tive tasks through au­to­ma­tion while still main­tain­ing the el­e­ment of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion and to solve cus­tomer pain points with dig­i­tal in- no­va­tion,” van Or­ton says.

“With the help of our dig­i­tal as­sis­tant, our staff will have the time to help our cus­tomers with more com­plex is­sues. We are not us­ing our dig­i­tal as­sis­tant to re­place front­line staff.”

FaceMe CEO Danny Tom­sett says that emo­tional con­nec­tion is key for emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy. “Re­search across hun­dreds of brands in dozens of cat­e­gories shows the most ef­fec­tive way to max­imise cus­tomer value is to move be­yond cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and con­nect with cus­tomers at an emo­tional level.”

Tom­sett says more. “Dig­i­tal hu­mans com­bine the best cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence in­flu­encers from both per­son and ma­chine, em­body­ing the brand of an or­gan­i­sa­tion and cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant value through emo­tional con­nec­tion, per­son­al­i­sa­tion and con­sis­tency.”

Voda­fone’s dig­i­tal hu­man jour­ney will be­gin at se­lect re­tail stores in Auck­land later this year, and will be the first AI-pow­ered dig­i­tal hu­man in a re­tail store in New Zealand.

But will Voda­fone be bring­ing dig­i­tal hu­mans to the Mid­dle East? Only time will tell – but per­haps sooner rather than later.

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