A few of us from GSL Promotus recently, attended a very engaging and enriching session ‘The Age of Assistant: Using chatbots, AI and voice to build your CX’ organised by the Marketing Association in Wellington. We decided to share some interesting learnings from the event which we particularly found interesting.

Chatbots have been in news for a while now and have fast become mainstream from being a new technology in the market. The low barriers to entry for both consumers and businesses, makes it a viable option.

  • According to a survey by Oracle, 80% of the businesses want a chatbot in place by 2020
  • As of the F8 conference 2018, Facebook has 300,000 active Messenger bots. That’s three times as many as the year prior.
  • Within the next 10 years, only 15% of interactions, customers have with a business will be with a human
  • 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020

AI and conversational interfaces have now been taken to the next level. ‘Digital Humans’ have already forayed into our lives and are already enhancing customer experience. The speakers Terry Williams Willcock – Creative Director at Rush Digital, Jody Boshoff – Director of Marketing at FaceMe and Matt Saunders – Digital Channels Manager at ACC presented real life case studies and how they have used digital humans to interface with customers and quite successfully.

Digital Human technology is useful when you need to go beyond a set script. The human touch and being able to show empathy, makes this innovation a success. It is no fun talking to a bot which reads out pre-set answers and is not capable of understanding your needs. They have turned out be great assets for advisory and counselling roles. The machine learning algorithms and sense-based data allow it to respond to situations and questions in real-time. That is where it beats the chat-bots.

Terry Williams from Rush Digital spoke about the use of digital personas by Headstrong for cognitive behaviour therapy. They have created multiple avatars to appeal to different target segments. People can choose any persona they instantly relate to talk to. While developing the prototypes, they spoke to several consumers from different segments to draw on cultural references and what emotional element works best with each segment. They mimed real life conversations to be able to provide as personalised an experience as possible. It was interesting to learn that a lot of people find it more appealing to talk to bots over human beings as they are less self-conscious.

There are quite a few organisations which have deployed this technology. Sir John Kirwan, the face of treating depression in New Zealand, is now cloning himself to reach more of his audience. Earlier, this year The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) also deployed a persona called Vai (Virtual Assistant Interface) at the Auckland Airport as a trial. Vai acted as the ‘digital biosecurity officer’. The new arrivals in New Zealand could stop at the Kiosk and ask Vai questions like easy ways to navigate through the airport, declaration process and so on. Similarly as part of the employee health programmes, Mentor Mea is now mentoring employees, across several workplaces. Air New Zealand, ANZ, Vodafone and Southern Cross (to be launched later this year) have deployed this technology successfully.

Gone are the days of only human influencers, virtual human influencers are here and bringing brands to life! Miquela Sousa (a.k.a Lil Miquela) is a virtual digital influencer on Instagram and Twitter with over 1.5m followers. She is the Instagram it-girl. Miquela did an Instagram takeover for Prada as part of Milan Fashion Week. She also did a Calvin Klein advertisement with Bella Hadid, both acting as animated characters.

 American electronic music producer, DJ Marshmallow held a virtual concert ‘Fortnite’, which was attended by over 125 million players. Simulating a real-life concert scenario, Marshmello urged the players’ avatars to dance along to the music. The set has been viewed over 11 million times over. Watch it here.