Connecta 2021 Recap – Chatbots and “homo economicus” in marketing
The experts at Connecta, which once again had to take place digitally this year, also looked at the latest trends and developments in marketing. We summarize the most important insights from Connecta TV and the Connecta blog.
Chatbots – still a rarity in Swiss retail
Sophie Hundertmark from the Institute of Financial Services Zug (IFZ) has dealt extensively with the development of chatbots. Chatbots are automated messenger channels that customers can use to contact a company via Facebook Messenger or services such as WhatsApp. The expert notes that most retail companies in Switzerland have not yet made use of these systems. Services such as brack.ch, melectronics.ch or microspot.ch offer live chat with employees from customer service on their websites, but do not yet take advantage of this technology. Other sectors, such as the financial industry, are a little further ahead. They are already using these systems to answer routine inquiries around the clock, whenever it suits their customers. In her blog post, the expert reveals how the chatbots can be successfully implemented.
Anna Rozumowski is a research assistant at the Institute for Marketing Management at the School of Management and Law at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). She is looking at the important question of whether and how trust can be established in communication between people and machines. Chatbots are one of the fastest growing communication channels; over 67% of consumers worldwide have had at least one interaction with a chatbot system in the past 12 months. During interpersonal interactions, trust is shaped by whether a person is perceived as being likeable and competent. But what about a digital consultant? Rozumowski lists four key factors for establishing trust with machines. These are the competence and expertise of the chatbot, the humanity of its communication, its appearance, and its user-friendliness.
The first chatbots were nothing more than simple algorithms that responded to key terms. With this approach, communication would break down quickly. Only artificial intelligence can transform a machine into a true conversation partner. Ingo Gächter, researcher and lecturer in Digital Marketing and Data Science at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), presented a fascinating development at Connecta. The “Woebot”, which can be used in depression therapy using AI and “crowd intelligence”.
People are complicated – “homo sapiens” vs “homo economicus”
Humans are emotional beings. “Homo sapiens” have many abilities, knowledge and an emotional side – but these provide only limited help when making wise decisions in financial matters. How can we develop financial literacy (especially among young people)? Biljana Mladenovic, a data scientist at PostFinance who is dealing with this challenge, presents the “Felix” project. The system conveys financial competence in simple terms and with a healthy level of “gamification”, and is based on the “homo economicus” thought experiment. It describes the skills we humans need to cope better in the complicated world of finance. And banks can play an important role in teaching these skills. Biljana Mladenovic gives her readers greater insight into the world of “homo economicus” and the project.
When the customer relationship turns into a long-distance relationship
Systems such as chatbots, which are available for customers 24/7, are often seen as examples of absolute “customer focus”. But what exactly is “customer focus”? Jan-Erik Baars, lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, explains it in an interview. In his opinion, it’s not about putting customers on a pedestal. Customer focus is based on real relationships and dialogue. And, to stay with the analogy, the pandemic in particular has turned this into a long-distance relationship. Technology alone cannot maintain or establish it – it also requires human interaction.
Video Jan-Erik Baars (in German)
It appears that at least some of the respondents in a study on customer relationships with banks agree with this. Nils Hafner of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts presented the results of the survey. As a result, it is possible to distinguish between four main groups. While a large number of customers prefer the analogue life (i.e. those who are always looking for the nearest branch), the majority of bank customers use digital solutions, but would also like specific advice for their special requirements. As Hafner emphasizes in his interview, customers currently want integrated solutions. One of his most important pieces of advice, including with regard to customer focus, is not to implement things that the bank itself finds “smart”, but to give customers a say more often.
Video Nils Hafner (in German)