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Ai Ai oh

Nick Hall By Nick Hall

Whether I like it or not, AI is going to have an increasingly pervasive presence in our lives. Even in its current iterations, it appears to crush most mundane tasks and has the potential to achieve things deemed impossible for mere mortals only months ago.

AI’s meteoric rise has companies of all shapes and sizes frantically searching for ways to take advantage of its power, driven by promises of speed, cost savings and the fear of being left behind.

I came across a video the other day of an AI-generated customer representative having a lengthy phone ‘conversation’ with a human to arrange a Tesla test drive. The conversation was a bit lumpy and featured the signature 2 second pause between responses as the AI processed its part, but the human didn’t seem to notice that the voice on the other end of the phone was simulated.

I wonder how different the conversation would have been if he did catch on? How would that knowledge have affected how he felt about the Tesla brand, and would the cost savings and convenience enjoyed by Tesla have been offset by the creation of an 'anti-customer'.

I know how I would feel about being called by a robot.

Above all else, businesses and brands must take care to ensure that the use of AI does not negatively impact how their current customers feel about them. Using it to improve or expand the product or service provided is wise (and likely inevitable), but thinking it can supplant people when it comes to all points of interaction is a mistake.

As an example, AI has the power to amplify both the speed and accuracy of certain medical diagnostics, and I think we can all agree that this is a big win.

However, once a diagnosis is made, delivery of the news should be placed in the caring and compassionate hands of an actual person - especially if it’s bad. Having a blinking blue light located somewhere deep in the Nevada desert tell your mom she has cancer would be most callous.

So, before you leap at all that AI has to offer, I invite you to consider the following:

  • Will it be seen as an improvement that has clear value for people, or will it make them feel devalued?
  • Would people trust you less if you revealed the use of AI?
  • Does its use align with your core brand ideals?
  • What effect does it have on your competitive advantage (remember it’s available to everyone else as well)
  • Will it make customers feel more empowered or powerless

The list of considerations is obviously longer than this as I am no expert in AI (and I refused to use ChatGTP to fluff it up). My expertise is branding, and branding is all about defining expectations and designing experiences that make people feel a certain way.

Remember that before you flip the switch.