Emerging market in many sectors, humanoid robotics is only at its beginnings. Capable of welcoming, accompanying and informing thanks to an interface equipped with speech and emotions, the robot offers a new customer experience. Neither gadget, nor solution of replacing a vendor or counter staff, humanoid robotics re-invents completely the user experience. Here’s why.

Laurent Marciniak, Responsable de l’offre Social Robotics In services, retail or in the health industry, the humanoid robotics business is only at a very early stage. Yet, it starts re-inventing the notion of user experience. The humanoid robot Pepper, for example, welcomes, accompanies and informs visitors with empathy. This first emotional personal robot is a capable of recognizing human emotions and adapt itself accordingly. An innovation that saw the very beginning of a unique expertise domain: The Social Robotics. This innovation reflects directly to two values: the collaboration between man and machine and not the replacement of one by another, and the capacity of the robot to integrate public space and to interact with the user (in opposition to the industrial robot confined to repetitive tasks in factories).

The business solutions pass by the humanoid robot as an interaction point between the computer system of the company and the final user. By retrieving visitor or client’s reactions, the robot feed with data – product quality, customer service, satisfaction surveys, etc. -internal teams.

An interactional client experience

The humanoid robot proposes services and offers adapted for certain cases and custom-made to welcome, guide and inform visitors and clients. This approach, available in SaaS mode (cloud), is Connect & Use. The objective is to put the visitor in an environment suitable for dialogue. The robot can propose services towards visitors and collaborators: taxi reservations, identification and welcoming of visitors, share digital content, satisfaction surveys, smart building, etc. The welcome service becomes an area of dialogue and communication where the establishment can interact with visitors.

In the retail domain, the robot has the capacity to call out clients and engage with them, with the use of a digital tablet, a dialogue around products, services or special operations. A “product catalogue” aspect offers, for example, different routes (per technical criteria’s, popularity, price, etc.), creating many possibilities to encourage interactions with clients. The tracking of the purchase can be delegated to a vendor or processed by the robot in a Click and Collect approach. The act of buying is personalized and improved. With product recommendation and purchase or payment management programs, for example, humanoid robotics smoothens the client’s route.

Feed data to internal teams

Software extensions complete traditional ERPs and CRMs with a Plug & Use approach: client recognition for a personalized welcoming, notifying the advisor to prepare the products and payment, share of information and offers by email, etc.

For even more specific needs, companies will rely on a Think, Build, Run methodology. Think, to define specific usage cases and desired interactions, the story-board and the behavior designs, as well as interact with the computer service. Build, for a task made in agile mode, and integrate a regular presentation of the solution to the jobs, the software qualification, the launch of a driver device and cycle adjustment. Finally Run, for the global deployment of the solution with the creation of job and technical teams, support and third party maintenance.

The robot will be asked to do very repetitive tasks (to enable the personnel to lead more rewarding tasks); for the interaction with the visitor or client in the objective of offering a new user experience. By scanning visitor or client reactions, the robot feeds data (product quality, customer service, satisfaction surveys…) to the internal teams. All of this is based on a collaborative approach between the personnel and the robot. Everything that can be done by robot can be done by personnel: there isn’t any area reserved for one or the other.

Humanoid robotics and Artificial intelligence

To improve even more this new customer experience, Social Robotics works on the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) under the aegis of the biggest names in the digital world. The idea is to use aspects to extend the robot’s capacities and services. For example, companies have a gigantic database in terms of FAQ (frequently asked questions). It’s hard for internal services to sort it. The robot will be equipped with an aspect that permits him to decrypt such a demand, decompose it, and identify the research topics, before sharing the results. With this approach, the company gains responsiveness. The whole of this for our clients.

Despite these technical leaps, the humanoid robot isn’t for the moment self-learning. It does what the algorithms ask. With artificial intelligence, this should evolve. It will be a question of who models the response. To face the issues arising from AI, the industry leaders launched, last September, an association to debate the best practices in this field. Hoping not to find themselves with robots exchanging with other robots…

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