Speak Freely Part II – Connecting with customers in a deeper level!

Contributed by Eyal Inbar, Marketing, NEC Unified Solutions

One of my favorite researches was done by Stanford University.  In this research they wanted to understand if the same social behaviors such as politeness will apply when talking with a computer.

The idea was very simple, if I will ask you to give me feedback on my own presentation, you will usually give me a positive feedback, while if the question was asked by a 3rd party, and your answer will be probably more honest. Why is it? The social rule is that it will be more polite to give me a positive feedback and not hurt my feelings.

Now, would you worry about hurting the computer’s feelings?  Your answer is probably no.

In this research they had a computer with a voice, teach people about something and then administrate a test and grade the person. At the end of the session the students were asked to give feedback on how well the computer did? How good of a teacher was it?

The questions were asked by either the computer once with the same voice used for the instruction class and once with a different voice. Everything else was identical, same teaching; same test and the students got even the same score just to make sure that won’t affect their opinion. The only difference was that they either heard the voice that just taught them, asking for feedback or a different voice.

Remarkably, people provided significantly more positive feedback to the questioned asked by the same voice as opposed to the feedback provided when using the new voice.  They even gave feedback such as: it was better, I liked the interaction more, much better teacher  and even said they did better in the test (although everything was absolutely identical including the score they got)

Now, you have to ask yourself, why someone would give different feedback to the same training just because the voice that was asking for the feedback is one time the same voice that taught the training and the other time is a different voice. Did the student think they are talking with a real person? After all it was just voice, no video; no picture just a computerized voice.

Obviously the students knew they were talking to computer and not with a real human being. If there is any group that will know that, it will be this group of people –a group of computer science students at MIT.

It appears that social rules apply when we are speaking with computers. In fact, when the students were asked if they purposely said nicer things to the computer that asked about itself because they didn’t want to hurt his feeling, they obviously said there is no way someone would change their answer just to make a computer feel better, but in fact  they did….their social response was unconscious.

So, if social rules apply when we are communicating with computers, how significant will be the opportunity to communicate with our customers in a deeper level?  Ask any marketer and he will tell you that being able to connect with customers in an emotional level it is the hardest but also the most rewarding thing you can achieve.

I’ll continue with Part III shortly.