Staying Personal in a Digital World
July 6, 2018
Robots have taken over the world. No, don’t panic: this is not The Matrix or Terminator. But even without gleaming laser guns or x-ray vision, our everyday robots are powerful creatures.
AI is everywhere. If you visit a company’s website and a chat window pops up, you’re being greeted by a chatbot. If Amazon sends you an electronic greeting card on your birthday, it’s most likely an automated email (unless you’re best friends with Mr. Bezos).
Robots like Google Duplex are able to participate in conversations where their human counterparts don’t even notice they’re talking to AI, customers still prefer human interactions with living and breathing people.
Technology, when it functions as intended, makes our life easier. (Have you ever encountered anything more frustrating than a device not doing what it’s supposed to?) For example, you don’t have to send out a thousand marketing emails manually, and replying to basic customer questions becomes easier with chatbots as well.
But there’s a limit to what technology and AI in particular can achieve, at least for now. Although robots like Google Duplex are able to participate in conversations where their human counterparts don’t even notice they’re talking to AI, customers still prefer human interactions with living and breathing people.
The Advantage of Small Business
And this is where small businesses flourish. You can give your customers the most authentic and personal shopping experience, something no large corporation can deliver from a thousand miles away.
Belonging somewhere is a powerful motivation for human beings. Your small business is inevitably a part of the community, you and your customers know each other (at least by sight), and tiny interactions between you form the backbone of your local society.
Your small business is inevitably a part of the community, you and your customers know each other (at least by sight), and tiny interactions between you form the backbone of your local society.
Imagine this. Standing in line at the local bakery is a lot less painful when the baker greets you with a smile and remarks on how much your children have grown. Asking about an update on the fantasy novel the corner store owner is writing helps you both pass the time while she checks out your purchases.
But these tiny acts of humanity do much more than that. They help customers feel connected to the world. And while self-checkout may be more efficient, at times customers deliberately choose to stand in line at the supermarket, just so they can catch up on local gossip with the person standing in front of them, or bagging their groceries.
The Right Mix
However, staying personal doesn’t mean you can’t use technology at all. AI helps you run your business more smoothly, offering a faster and more efficient shopping experience for your customers.
You just need to find the right balance between automating and being personal.
Personalize Your Technology
Even if you’re sending out an automated mass email, you can ensure the text carries a personal flavor that is true to your business and brand. This way, your customers will recognize your voice and your automated email will contribute to strengthening their relationship with you.
Be Upfront About AI
In business (as in life), trust is important. If you’re using a robot for any transaction, let your customers know ahead of time. For a customer, nothing is more disappointing than finding out you’ve been talking to a robot for the last ten minutes.
Choose the Right Tasks to Automate
Don’t automate parts of the shopping experience that customers particularly enjoy. For example, human attention when picking out the right outfit should never be replaced by AI.
But who likes to spend hours with sending international wire transfers? Let technology handle menial, unavoidable tasks and concentrate on what makes your business personal and unique.
And for the international transfers? Try Veem.
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