Looking for a “real” person.

There is a fundamental principle in economics: whatever level of technological innovation we offer, at the end of the process there is always a product and above all a person. However, the road between the company and its customer seems longer and longer today. Technology doesn’t always make things easier.

To be convinced of this, just look at the number of companies that have deleted their phone number from their website. Apparently, we’d rather talk to a bot, avatar, or use anonymous email to ask a question. The truth is that companies often want to protect themselves from their customers who, in principle, are complicated, demanding and have not understood anything about the product.

The attitude can be summed up like this: “We love our customers, provided they never contact us”. In the few cases where a phone number is still available, you must first identify a certain number of possibilities on your keyboard. Then we become experts in Four Seasons of Vivaldi, we hear an advertisement or two and finally, we reach a technician who is generally not the right person.

Sometimes the most exciting technologies are looking for a use. This is the case of the metaverse. Even Tim Cook, Apple’s president, thinks most people aren’t quite sure what it will be about. But no one dares to say this for fear of sounding strange. Most of the time, people think they have enough problems with the current universe without having a second one to deal with.

However, there are areas where technology can be usefully tailored between the company and its customer. Microsoft will deliver 120,000 virtual reality headsets to the US military, and Accenture has bought 60,000 for training newcomers to the company. From there to everyone using virtual reality in their daily lives, as Mark Zuckerberg wants, there is a big leap. Meta’s share has lost nearly 60% of its value this year.

In a recent column (September 3), I highlighted the importance of influencers in a company’s marketing strategy. But these, like Li Jiaqi, the “lipstick king”, or Kanye West with Adidas, can also represent a danger when their behavior goes wrong. Therefore, the Chinese company Xmov has just developed a virtual influencer. Ling, as she is called, looks like a young Chinese girl, with the advantage of being cheaper than a celebrity and above all, more controllable.

coaster

The new generation is perhaps the first victim of this virtualization of customer relations. According to a study by the American company BankMyCell, 81% of young people between the ages of 22 and 37 are now afraid to make or answer a phone call. After a missed call, they send a text, it’s less stressful.

In the company, they prefer to write e-mails from one office to another than to talk to each other. They are afraid oftable bombing», sudden intervention in an office. It’s true that a colleague engrossed in a virtual reality headset or headset does not invite spontaneous discussion…

Talking to a real person can be a fad of the older generation. However, we’ve all had the frustrating experience of call centers that, from question to question, take us around the world from Ireland to the Philippines to India.

To remedy this, telecoms Telstra in Australia and BT in Great Britain have repatriated most of their call centers closer to the end customer. This resulted in increased efficiency and customer satisfaction. Because in order to solve a problem, you must be able to rely on the sensitivity of the person who will help you and his understanding of your emotions, and even of the cultural context.

In his latest book, Heligoland, astrophysicist Carlo Rovelli, from the University of Aix-Marseille, explains that quantum objects have no reality in themselves. They exist only through the relationships they develop with other objects or observers.

The same goes for products. They have value only through the reality of the personal relationship that develops between the company and us. An avatar or a robot can be an efficient mediator, but not enough. Today, even large face-to-face meetings are making a comeback. In the end, we remain impassable people.


Previous column: “Permakriza”: a new name for a new era

Leave a Comment