The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

50. The Ethics of AI - Customer Persuasion vs Customer Coercion w/ William Ammerman


Human domination by superintelligences is pretty much the thing to be talking about, ever since the Golden Age of Sci-Fi. Has the passage of nearly 70 years since then made us more or less susceptible to Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and others like them?

That’s what William Ammerman, author of The Invisible Brand: Marketing in the Age of Automation, Big Data, and Machine Learning and the EVP of Digital Media at Engaged Media, came onto my podcast to explain.

We got into discussion about voice, AI, and machine learning, all of which are doing their part to draw us humans into empathic relationships with our devices... even while those devices are becoming better equipped to influence and persuade us. I mean, when a 4-year-old can use voice to search millions of songs in a music library — all without being able to read — then AI has come a long, long way from world domination.

Listen to this episode of The Customer Experience to hear William talk about what he means by invisible brands and how they massively impact marketers and consumers. You’ll also hear about: 

  1. Psychotechnology and how it affects your buys
  2. “Googlenoia” (Google + Paranoia)
  3. How chain stores know whether you’re pregnant (before you tell your dad)
  4. Persuasion has become a science — but has it become an artificial intelligence yet?

We’ll also talk about what you’ll read about when you open The Invisible Brand.

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It's about persuasion, not coercion or deception. It's a simple formula. Most consumers are willing to be persuaded. The single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. All Right, I'm opening this episode of the Customer Experience Podcast with a quote, and here it is. As our interactions with artificially intelligent agents become more human like through natural language Algorithms, we will begin to have conversations with machines. We will build empathic relationships with those machines in which we are even more vulnerable to their influence. Those words come from a book that you should read. It's called the invisible brand. Marketing in the age of automation, big data and machine learning and obviously has implications for the entire customer life cycle, marketing, sales and customer success. But it's author, and our guest today, also covers its implications for finance and investing policy and politics, health and medicine, insurance, education, religion, even sex. It's a book I highly recommend and it draws on his master's work at UNC Chapel Hill about persuasion as a science and machine learnings ability to keep our faces glued to our screens. It also draws on his work at MIT on natural language processing and humans and pathic responses to our devices. He has years of experience as a VP and EEDP and digital media and digital advertising. He's currently the Executive Vice President of digital media at the engaged media portfolio of brands. William Ammerman, welcome to the customer experience podcast. Great to be here. I'm glad to have the opportunity to talk about the invisible brand with you. As I said, I really, really enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who's listening. There's a great deal of tension in there, and by the tension I mean, you know, the human experience machines, as they get smarter and they know more about us, they can leverage that against us, potentially in this vulnerability of this empathic response that we have an all these things just so rich. So, before we get going, let's cut right to it. is human domination by SUPERINTELLIGENCE INEVITABLE? No, I don't think so. I think a partnership between humans and machines is probably a better way of expressing what I view as the future. But I do think that machines get smarter and smarter and I think that machines will continue to do things that we associate with human like intelligence and that we are just really starting to experience it, so that we we've just kind of seen the tip of the iceberg. What are your thoughts? When I see customer experiencing? You're preparing to come on to the customer experience podcast. What does customer experience mean to you? I don't have a pat definition, but I think when I think of the customer experience, I think of the interaction between brands and consumers and I think about whether or not the consumer has a positive or negative impression of the brand, and I also think about whether or not the relationship feels ethical and transparent and trusted. So when I think of, you know, kind of the customer decision journey, which is a phrase that we use a lot in marketing, I think the customer experience is kind of informing the customer decision journey, throughout the relationship between the brand and the and the buyer, the consumer. I like that you tapped there one of those kind of tension points that I felt in reading the invisible brand, which is this the transparency element, right, like what's inside the black box? Why am I getting these particular recommendations, why am I seeing these particular ads and all of that, and we will get into that. There's one explicit reference... customer experience in the book in those words, and it was around a negative experience with a fifty percent off sale. Do you want to tell that story just quickly? A little boy? Yeah, so my family was visiting me. I had an apartment of in New York City and around Christmas time and my family came up and we did some shopping in the city together and my daughter spied a coat in the window of a Columbia store and in the meat packing district, I guess we were, and the kind of near Chelsea market. Anyway, the window, you know, clearly showed a fifty percent off sign with a rack of coats. We went in, my daughter tried one on. You know, retail price on it was like three hundred and fifty dollars, which was more than I was planning on spending on a single present. And but she she pointed out it was fifty percent off and I thought was still pretty expensive, but you know, she needs a winner code. And okay. So we took it up to the cash register and they rang it up and it was not fifty percent off and I said it's on the rack that says fifty percent off and and the guy you know set up, sorry, it's not in the it's not in the system. I said, you know, is your manager here? And he's you know, we went through the rigmarole. Well, I reached out to their online customer service and I took photographs of it. I said look, you know, this is a coat hanging on a rack that's clearly marked fifty percent off, and I got to say they're their customer service department failed utterly. You know, they were unable to help me at all and in fact they said, you know, you really need to talk to the store manager at that individual store because we're the just the online store. And I said, well, you know, I talked to him and he wouldn't honor the sign that was in his own store. That clearly said fifty percent off and and they said, well, you'll you really have to talk to him or his regional manager. And I said, well, who's the regional manager? And they said, I don't know, I don't know this is so it just sounded like talking to Columbia. I'm talking to the actual corporation. WHO's the regional manager? Who Do I eskalate this to? I don't know. They literally failed every step of the way, and so what could have been an opportunity to build a positive customer relationship. Fifty percent off, you know, drawing a customer in. I was on the street, I wasn't planning on going into the store. They you know, lured me into the store with their sign. They could have gathered information about, you know, who I was and how I was responding to their sales and they probably didn't even bother to figure out that I was angry about the fact that I had been snubbed and that they're advertising had been deceptive and that the store manager operating their store was, you know, clearly using false advertising. And so it's an opportunity lost for a company like Columbia. They lost my business and in fact I have three children and a wife who no longer shop at Columbia as a result. It was insulting. It was a, you know, very poor decision on their part and the fact that they're, you know, their organizational customer service was so bad that they couldn't even recognize that they'd made a mistake was humiliating for that. I mean, you know, it's just a blunder for any corporation to go through life blind to what it's doing and how it's treating consumers. So lots of opportunities missed and it ended up in a book, right and on this show, on this show all over, and I'm sure, I would guess others, all over one hundred seventy five dollars right, right, just so crazy. When you think about that long term, I just think you just, you know, your family alone could purchase x that amount over the next five years. Oh, in on ski season. Right, there you go. So anyway, as soon as I saw that word, I always read a book with a Pencil and I underline things and put things in parentheses. Periodically I'll mark things in the columns. So when I saw customer experience as like I'm going to ask him about that. So let's let's getting into...

...the invisible brand very specifically. Let's start at a high level. What are you addressing in the book from a brand or company perspective, like what's going on at a high level from a marketers or salespersons or companies or a brand's perspective? Yeah, so let's let's first start with that title, the invisible brand. I was playing off of Adam Smith's wealth of nations where he coined the phrase the invisible hand, this feature of the economy that operates to create wealth and in society, and I thought, you know, we're really onto something new, we're experiencing a brand new force in the economy and I had to give it a name and I thought the invisible advertiser, the invisible, you know, marketer, and I thought what rhymes with hand, and then it kind of hit me between the eyes. Invisible brand. But the reference is very much about revealing something that is hidden and I wanted to kind of pull back the curtain and show people how the technology that they're using through their phones and their laptops and even their televisions and cars, is being used by marketers to gather information, personalize information, delivery back to the consumer in such a way that they build a relationship with you so that they can get you to be more open to their messaging and ultimately figure out how to use artificial intelligence to leverage that personal interaction to persuade you and to change the way you act and think and what you buy. And so kind of pulling back the curtain on that invisible force in our lives was really the purpose of the book. And it's all right here. I mean you're not talking. I mean there are, there is some, you know, future look throughout, but you mean, this is all very, very present. So from a consumers point of view, or because we're all customers as well, as you already established with your story, they're a about your Columbia experience. Talk about this a little bit from the customers perspective. Yeah, so from from the perspective, most consumers have this kind of sensation that they're being watched and followed. They recognize that, you know, they've got this device sitting on their counter that listens to them, that they talked to. So consumers are kind of aware and they increasingly have this awareness of being surveiled and and even spied upon. I often say there's a fine line between marketing and espionage, and so where we are today is that consumers have this kind of sneaking suspicion that they're being manipulated. But what I was trying to do in the book is to explain exactly how that works and to equip people with kind of the knowledge that they can think both about the opportunities that that this technology presents as well as the risks. And one of the examples, I don't think I wrote it exactly this way in the book, but it's a kind of a simple explanation. Imagine your operating a pet store and somebody comes to leave their pet with you. You have the right to, you know, ask for specific types of information. I need to know where you're going, I need to know how long you're going to be there, I need to know how to reach you if, you know, fido gets sick. So there's this sharing of information where the consumer gives up certain data that the business owner needs in order for them to have a positive relationship, and consumers for the most part, believe in that kind of information exchange. Is Transparent, it's open. They recognize that there's a value that they're getting back and in this case it's the safety of my pet. But where we are, you know, ready to draw the line is when we move from using the information the way we expected to be used to doing something else with it. You know, in the extreme example here would be, you know, you know I'm going to be out of town this weekend, so you go rob my house. Okay,... we've crossed the creepy line. I don't want you roaming around in my house and eating my food and, you know, stealing my stuff because you've been privileged to receive information about my whereabouts. And I think that for most consumers there they sense this intuitively, that there's this line that business shouldn't cross. But I think where we have to understand that, you know, the technology has taken us is that we've gone way faster than regulatory environments have kept up with that we are in a realm where data is being transmitted about who we are, where we are, what we do, what we buy, what we think, and that ownership over that knowledge is something that there's a an active conversation going on today about, you know, who really owns that data and knowledge, and some people, Tim Burners Lee, the father of the Internet, rather the World Wide Web has said openly you know, we need to have a Magna Carta for privacy, for personal information, and I think that to a degree he's right that there needs to be a real serious rethinking of who owns our data and who owns information about us. Yeah, and we're starting to see that roll out a little bit. Obviously, you hit on GDPR and like the California law that's in flight. My understanding is that several other states are kind of in consideration there. But you know, to your point, there's so much that hasn't been regulated and honestly, I'm you know, I'm a little bit skeptical. I wouldn't call myself, I had, a glass half empty type of person, but I would say on average, I would not trust companies with their own specific motives with my data in a completely unregulated environment. The other interesting layer here is because, and I was happy to hear the way you describe the way you approach the book, because I think you really delivered on your own hopes or expectations for it, at least the way you describe here, which is, you know, peel it back and put it in common language. In this is how this stuff works. And so the other thing too, is that that data can then be paired and used and resold in all these other things and all of a sudden it's just like long gone genies out of a bottle, the Pandora's boxes open and all this informations out there and it's being all matched up and now people have machines, have develop our developing profiles that know me as well or better than myself, and not only, I'm getting a little bit ahead of the conversation here, not only predict what I'm going to do, but but prescribe it to me. So it is something to be sensitive to. Just stay in the spirit of let's make this all approachable and walk it down. Just give me a quick again a few terms here. Just give me some quick, lightweight definitions on them. Artificial intelligence. I started the book off with a Joke I've heard a few times, which is artificial intelligence is the art of making machines act like they do in the movies. And of course you know the the movie making industry portrays, you know, robots that can easily, you know, blend into society without being detected. I don't think we're there yet. I think that you know we are beyond the turing test and that, you know, a customer Chat Bot engine can pull off being a human being, but I don't think we've achieved, you know, what we refer to as general artificial intelligence. Most of the applications of Ai that are working today are narrow applications. They offer specific solutions to problems that we would normally think of as being solved by a human but they aren't general in the sense that they don't solve all problems. They just solve one narrow type. So when I think of artificial intelligence, I think of it as the process of teaching computers to solve problems that we would normally think of as being solved by human beings. And right now the applications of AI are still...

...narrow. They're very sophisticated and they're super impressive, but they're still fairly narrow in scope. Super Algorithm. So, unlike a mathematical algorithm, computer algorithm is simply a set of instructions that you follow, and I in the book I talked about. You have an algorithm for waking up in the morning. Your alarm clock goes off, you turn the alarm off, you swing your feet out of bed and you stand up and turn on the light or whatever that is. So there's a sequence of events that you follow that you could consider an algorithm. Well, it's interesting about algorithms as they can be packed into other algorithms. That little get up out of bed algorithm can be paired up with a brush your teeth algorithm and an eat breakfast algorithm and to go to work algorithm, and all of those can be nested inside a larger algorithm called, you know, my day, and the my day algorithm could be nested inside an algorithm called by month and my year. So you can quickly see how algorithms can pair with one another. They can be nested inside of one another group together to solve problem. So think of an algorithm. Start by thinking of an algorithm as a set of instructions for a computer to follow. Quick follow up there on Algorithms again. I'm offering this for the listener who doesn't understand these things, much like myself. Is there a final rule in a set? Basically observe, learn, optimize, so that it's self perpetuating and gets more and more effective efficient. Yes, when we talk about machine learning, we're really talking about the ability for machines, on one hand, to detect patterns in data and use either supervised learning or unsupervised learning to more efficiently recognize those patterns and then ultimately learn how to change outcomes from those patterns. So if you see, you know, a shopping experience and you watch the customer decision journey from the top of the funnel all the way through the bottom of the funnel and you can see where people drop out and you can gather tens of millions of data points about the customer experience and you've got sixty variables to, you know, play with, you can start to actually see how a computer would be much more efficient at not only detecting patterns in that data but then learning how to actually change the outcomes. If I tweak this, let me watch what happens as a consumer moves through the funnel. If I tweak this, let me see what impact that has and ultimately bend the consumer experience towards more positive outcomes. Whatever your KPI is, whether it's a conversion or somebody making a purchase or total dollars, that computer can look at all of those variables that go into the customer experience and then at the end start to see, okay, if I, you know, do x, this happens. If I do why, this other thing happens, and I can start to actually bend my campaign's, my marketing and my customer outreach and all of those touch points with the consumer to chain the outcome. So, instead of just thinking of the modern computer experience as just plotting points on a graph and then drawing a line of best fit so that you can try to figure out, you know, where the next point will fall, think of it as a bunch of points on a graph that the computer recognizes and says, okay, if I want the next point to fall on this line, I have to do x, Y and Ze, and that's prescripted the computers. Starting to think about how to actually change the outcomes rather than merely predict the outcome. Really good. That was I'm so glad I asked that follow up question. Another one neural network. Well, the reference to neural is simply organizing a computer network in the way that a human brain is organized...

...and I think that that term is often a little maybe misleading and it's a you know, we're not actually building human brains, but what we're trying to do is we're trying to suggest that the interaction of the data through the network is not following a single linear path, that there's lots of processes that are happening simultaneously and it is the culmination of lots of simultaneous processes that is generating answers or outcomes, which makes it more of a neural network. And when we start stacking neural networks, you know, we can start to create what we think of as deep learning. We start to recognize new benefits from the complexity of the systems that we're leveraging and that gives us some really powerful outcomes. Good. Last one, and this is a term I believe you created in constructing the book. It captures the personalized, persuasive ability to learn, the anthropomorphic nature of our the way the machines interface with us, and that is psychotechnology. Feel free to to kind of run with this one a little bit talk about the elements of it and how you arrived at that term. Yeah, in the book I define for key trends that you just mentioned and I'll try to illuminate them just briefly. The first that you mentioned and I previously mentioned, is how the personalization of information if you and I were sitting next to each other at the airport and we both had our laptop so open and we went to the New York Timescom we might see different ads. You might see ads that are tailored to you, I might see ads tailored to me. So we're seeing you know, different information. Your facebook feed is different than my facebook feed. The news you consume is tailored to you, customized to your you know wants, and increasingly we are seeing information reflect back to us, almost like an echo chamber, of what we have previously demonstrated an interest in, and that's a real important. Fundamental idea is that the machine is now equipped to address you ethan a you bill in different terms. That's the personalization of information and that's distinct from the world I grew up in, where a broadcast tower delivered a message to everyone at the same time. Now computers are developing one on one relationships with individuals. We are even able to write news copy headlines on the fly, tailored to you and how you are motivated and what things you like to read. A second is that persuasion has become a science. We are no longer six people in a room with a wet finger in the air trying to feel out which way the wind blows. You know, it's no longer kind of that, that simple focus group testing of messages. We are now at a point where we can ab test messaging across thousands and even tens of thousands, and if you consider Google, of giant Focus Group, billions of people and and the ability to persuade really comes down to defining in key performance indicators that can be tracked, watching what messaging people are exposed to and how they behave, and then seeing can I change those behaviors by changing the messaging? And the answer is yes, we can. You know, at something as simple as on your facebook APP on your phone, a little number one that pops up that causes you to think, hope, somebody liked my picture, somebody liked my post. Well, guess what? We tend to gravitate toward those things and compulsively click to open that up and see, well, who liked my who like my facebook post? That's a form of persuasion. You are being manipulated, you're being changed by that little number one that pops up and the reward you get is that little drip of dopamine in your brain that makes you feel like, ah, somebody loves me. Well, that kind of persuasion is being deployed in marketing, it's being deployed in video games. You know, we can keep your... glued to their video game for seventy hours without going to the bathroom just to, you know, earn the the last piece of armor in there, you know, for their night in their medieval war game. So you know, we were really good at persuasion. The next is that natural language processing is being deployed with machine learning so that we can now talk to machines that learn how to persuade US using personalized information. So I kind of blended the last two together. There's the Personalizasian of information, persuasion as a science. Natural language processing and machine learning all taken together create technology that we're talking to and we have to be aware that the machine that we're talking to is listening, it's learning about us in order to persuade US using our own personalized information, and I thought we need a name for that. We got to what do we call that? And I thought about it really hard. That's technology that is operating on US psychologically. What would you call psychological technology? You'd call it psychotechnology, or you could even shorten that if you wanted to Psychotech, and I am committed to that idea that this is truly something new and unique and I need to be out there explaining to everybody how it works, because they deserve to know and understand how it is impacting them already. It's already at work changing you and me. It is, and you've already cited a couple examples of it just in that explanation, which is really, really good. I think the way folded those together made a lot of sense to me and I think it'll resonate with folks that kind of observe these bits and pieces. But you did is such a nice job pulling it all together into something that we can got to wrap our heads around a little bit. So let's go just for the sake of time, let's let's do a little bit of a go on kind of the ethical considerations. You already touched on it a little bit. Trust, transparency. Companies need to be open, but the you know, their whole M is, how can I use AI to get people to buy more stuff? Right? And on the other side you have the customers, who you've already you've already kind of hinted at. This is like, I'm comfortable giving you this information in this context because it's an appropriate exchange of, you know, value my valuable information in an exchange for your valuable service or access to this document or whatever the case may be. I'm comfortable there, but when I get that little further peek behind the curtain, I get very uncomfortable. I'm creeped out, you know, I'm turned off, I'm kind of shocked. And so there's this expectation management function that I think is around opening up the black box and being more transparent about what's going on and why. From the company perspective, at the same time, their motivation is to sell more stuff using AI. And then at a certain point, I'm getting a little bit farther ahead. Here is, you know, you discussed it at couple different points in the book, this idea that we won't be able to recognize the machine or even the data. Scientists don't totally understand what's going on inside the black box at times, and so even that is a little bit beyond the company's control at some level. And so just talk about that give and take and the creepiness factor. But the you know, we like more targeted ads. Maybe just talk about that given take. Yeah, so, without getting too far down the kind of the Sci Fi side of this, let's just talk about the the consumer experience. If you are in customer service or if you're a business owner, if you're a marketer, I strongly, strongly encourage you to write this down. It's about persuasion, not coercion or deception. The simple formula. Most consumers are willing to be persuaded. We are all willing to be convinced. Convinced me,...

...tell me that your product is better, but don't trick me into it, don't deceive me and don't do anything that is coercive, and I think that keeps you on the right side of the creepy line. I'll define the creepy line a little bit more for you. As you're as you're thinking about this, there was a terrific example of what I consider the invisible brand at work a number of years ago, target had a lead scientist who is asked, can you tell us when a woman is pregnant? Because at a when a woman is pregnant she makes lots of decisions about brands and things that she will purchase that last for decades. She will be you know, she raises her babies with the same kind of dishwashing detergent, at the same kind of toothpaste, the same kind of laundry to tergon. And in the process of making those decisions she makes a lot of new decisions. He tries a lot of new products during the point where she's pregnant and then soon after when she has young children. And so for marketers it's a very strategically important part of a woman's life is to figure out how do I know when a woman is pregnant? Well, it turns out that target has a lot of data in their system and from your basket of goods, of what you're purchasing, they can actually do a pretty good job of determining when your pregnant. Surprisingly so. And the story goes, and this is now a famous kind of marketing, oneonone story. They sent out a mailer to women who were pregnant and one of those mailers went to a young woman who was sixteen years old and her father received it and was incensed the target would have the nerve to send his sixteen year old daughter information about pregnancy. She's too young of course, and you know, surprise, it turned out that she was actually in fact pregnant and the algorithms that target knew it before dad did. And that's not the end of the story. The end of the story is the fact that target recognized that for that consumer they had crossed the creepy line. That consumer didn't need to know that his daughter was pregnant before he did, and the fact that a, you know, corporation could deduce from the basket of goods that you were purchasing that your daughter was pregnant was something very startling to that particular individual. And the learning from that that that target took away is don't be so obvious. So right learning that they gathered from it was, okay, we're going to put gas grills and golf clubs into the into the mailer, so that it's not all just baby stuff. And oh by the way, if you're happening to look past the gas grills and golf clubs and there's some you know, some pregnancy stuff in there, that's nice, but but please don't think that we sent you a pregnancy mailer or a baby mailer. So there was this degree of obfuscation that they started crafting into their marketing so that it wasn't so obvious to consumers when they were crossing the creepy line. I think where that leaves us today is that, as consumers, we are suspicious that we are being stocked and preyed upon, but we are also suspicious that the corporations are hiding and masking what they do. It's something I called Google noia, which is kind of a combination of Google and paranoid, and this creeping Google noia that we experience suggest to US somehow that, you know, all of these search engines and all of these recommendation engines and the ads and everything is really ganging up on us and and stocking us and persuading us in ways that we don't understand. And in fact a lot of that is actually happening. That is the case, and for consumers the trick is you better not let me know it, and and so for for marketers, the simple rule is persuasion, not coercion or deception, and I think that if you stay on that side, if you know and recognize the persuasion is fair,...

...that consumers are willing to be persuaded and that you offer a transparent value exchange your data in exchange for these benefits, that you, as a company, will be more often than not, on the right side of the creepy line. I like it. It's it's, you know, golden rule obviously applies here. Or could you justify this decision or this behavior to someone you love and respect, like a family member or close friend? You know, it's easy to sit around and make decisions in the company's interests inside a closed setting, but to be able to justify it externally and explain it to people. If you're willing to do that, then you're probably on the safe side of it. I really love to another that that that target pregnancy story would like kind of broke into the mainstream, as did that Google duplex, the AI assistant scheduling a haircut appointment in the interesting resolve of getting you did a drive by on that in the book. The interesting resolve there is that Google ended up based on customer feedback or or peep, you know, consumer feedback, this idea that the machine will present itself as a machine acting on behalf of a human. Again, like this transparent step, so as not to act as if like acting as if it's a human, but it's not a human. It's funny. I had a conversation about live chat and chat bots here on the show and and what the gentleman observed was that so often the people will ask directly into the chat exchange. Are you a person? You know like where are you? You know are it? Because people want to know that too. So it's interesting even in the interactions we want to have that level of transparency. What are the marketing jobs of the future, and I asked this with you know, you talked about you already mentioned new stories that right themselves, email copy that is going to optimize itself, adds that create run and optimize themselves. Where does this leave the marketer when we go more strategic and less tactical, because a lot of the tactics are knocked down by the machines, which is sensible, again putting humans in position to do their best work in partnership. Where does that leave the human marketer in x number of years? Yeah, so the definition I typically apply to marketing is anticipating consumer demand and then finding products that can deliver on that demand profitably, and I think when you start to unpack that, that's a pretty sound definition of marketing. That isn't going to change. What's changing are the tools, as you said, the tactics. I'll give you one very clear example. That's happening today and I would extol encourage marketers to take this very seriously. You might remember twenty years ago, you know, the infancy, the dawn of kind of search and search engine optimization. Businesses were really face for the challenge and that was, do I divert resources into search engine optimization? Is this important? Is this a fad or is this something that's going to affect my business for the next, you know, multi decades? Then, as we know, you know that the end of that story is that search engine optimization has been critical and those businesses that chose to invest succeeded in those that chose to ignore it did so at their own peril. I think we are at a similar inflection point with voice based interfaces. We are now talking to our cars, we're talking to our television as, we're talking to our cell phones, we're talking to, you know, Alexa and Siri, and for businesses today, they're facing a similar challenge that they did twenty years ago. Is this something worth investing in? Do I make my business visible for audible, if you will, through voice based interfaces. And so I would ask you, if you're a marketer and you're listening to this, ask this simple question. Can My products and services be purchased today through voice? Go over to Alexa and try to find your product through Alexa. See if Ciri can locate...

...your business, see if Ciri can identify the products that you have available for sale and, more importantly, can you actually make the purchase using voice? Because there are a lot of products that are already being sold using voice. I can sit down in my living room and I can say, you know, recommend a scary movie in My TV will pull up scary movies and I can select when. All using voice. That's changing things. You're driving in your car and you say in a directions to the nearest Thai restaurant. That's using voice to purchase things. Increasingly, we are spending money with our mouths. It's easier to spend money with our mouths than our fingers at this point, and for businesses who are really thinking hard about where things are going, you've got to recognize that this is an opportunity for you to either capture market share or get left behind. And why do I bring a voice? Voice is the consumer facing edge of artificial intelligence at some of our world's largest and most valuable companies. Think about the companies that you think of as the world's most valuable brands. Probably on that list, you're going to say, is apple, it's Microsoft, it's certainly Amazon. Well, when you think about those and Google, you're naming companies that have voice based ecosystems. The most valuable brands in the world have Siri and Alexa and Google assistant and Cortana. These are voice based systems that human beings are interacting with at increasing ease. You know what I think about? A story that I tell in the book. My neighbor's four year old son was able to get Alex to play music for him and I was thinking, you know, this is really truly amazing, because a four year old hasn't necessarily nerd learned how to read. They can't navigate graphical user interface, but here he is easily using a voice based interface to navigate a complex environment, in this case Alexa, and I thought, you know, that's really impressive. Voice is something more innate, it's something deeper in us than reading. We learned to speak when we're a year, year and a half, whereas we don't learn to read until we're maybe four, five six years old. And so that interface, that voice interface, is something that marketers today have to start grappling with. What does it mean to your business to have consumers shifting their attention to an interface which is all voice based? So these are some of the challenges that marketers face. To bring it back to your question again, the strategic role of marketing hasn't changed, but the tools and tactics that are available as changing extremely rapidly and marketers need to be on top of those changes and learn to adapt. Excellent. I have a several more questions that I will not be asking you. I again I found the invisible brand to be fun, easy and very interesting and informative and again I recommend it highly to to anyone that's made it this far into the interview. You know there's so much more in there that we can't pack into this conversation. So will end here where I always end, which is on our number one core value at bombomb in here on the show, which is human relationships. So I would love to give you the chance to think or mentioned someone who's had a positive impact on your life or your career. And counter to where we started with that retail story, you had maybe give a mention to a company that you really appreciate a respect for the type of experience they're delivering for you as a customer. Well, I would be a fool not to thank the folks that helped me write the book. You know, one of the things about writing a book is that it is not a solitary experience. When I got started, I thought this is just me and a typewriter and I thought I had to like lock myself in a room and not, you know, peek out. But in the acknowledge roots... the book I listed a whole Bunch of folks, but very specifically I got bogged down in the writing process and I recognize that I don't have the temperament personality to be somebody who can just, you know, knock out eight hours of writing every day until a book is finished. That I'm you know, I find moments, flashes of inspiration where I'll write you three, four, five pages and then it might be a week or two before I get involved with it again. And I ended up working with a researcher fell in in Daren, who helped me at a level that I you know, really it unlocked my ability to get the book done because, instead of dreading digesting a, you know, a thirty page study, I could hand it to him and say, you know what, I think this is in Horton, I think this is something that we should include, but I don't want to, you know, spend a whole chapter on it. Maybe if you could give me two paragraphs and he would do the drudgery of digesting that thing and feeding me back to two paragraphs that I could easily staple in or, you know, kind of mortar into the bricks of this larger structure. And at first I thought this is cheating, this is too easy, but then I realized it doesn't you know, you've got to figure out what your own faults are, what your own weaknesses are, and you've got to be willing to reach out and get help, and so I owe a debt of gratitude to everybody who helped me with the book. To the second part of your question, who's doing it, my default answer here is Amazon, and I say that admiringly but also with a degree of caution. And the admiring is that Amazon has figured out how to connect the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel in a unique way that facebook and Google can't, and that is that they plant the seeds at the top of the funnel. They, you know, have that ability to plant the ideas and to see the market with people who bought this also bought this. You know you might like this. And in fact they've made tremendous in roads in digital marketing in terms of the dollars that they're bringing in, which is very impressive. But they also have something that Google and facebook don't, which is the cash register. Of course, facebook and Google have to rely on third party data, but it here we have a company, Amazon, that is the cash registry. You can actually make the purchase right there, and so what Amazon is doing is their leveraging artificial intelligence to connect, to create attribution between what you bought and what you experience through the customer experience, by understanding algorithmically the steps you took along your customer experience. Through their technology, they're getting better at changing and and molding your purchase behavior, and that's what's making them so successful, is their application of artificial intelligence to the problem of attribution. And when I say that the attribution problem is by definition it's figuring out to what do I attribute this purchase? You know, you bought a radio ad, you bout a TV ad, you bought a newspaper Ad, and I have no idea which one of those caused you to walk in today and buy dog food. But Amazon can watch that entire experience through their portal, and I'm talking about through their movies and through their music and through all of the things that you're doing when you interact with the range of you know, Amazon prime and all of the you know, all the products that they're selling. You know they are a market place that includes a lot of things that you wouldn't traditionally think of as custom more experiences, and they're able to weave all that together algorithmically to make observations about your behaviors what you will buy next that companies like facebook and Google can't see. So they've really applied artificial intelligence to better understanding the customer experience and I would have to cite them as kind of my you know,...

...kind of top company to watch in this space. Great Call and a great breakdown there, I mean just folding and I didn't think about it this way, but folding in what music I'm listening to and how often, what movies and TV shows I'm watching through prime, what I'm buying at whole foods market, through the APP, you know, all the like. Just a personal profile they can build on me is really, really interesting. Besides obviously going to order this, that or the other thing, you know, books and whatever else, through the website directly, there's so much of a profile they can build. I'm going to add one shout out. The gentleman who brought the two of us together today is Douglas Burdette, Marketing Artillery and the marketing book podcast. We were both guests on his show as authors of books that are relevant to marketers and marketing. So shout out to Douglas. Thanks for bringing us together. Thank you so much for your time here on the show today. I enjoyed it very much, and continued success to you with folks who want to follow up on this if they want to obviously order the book or connect with you. What are some ways that people can take this conversation step farther? The simplest thing to do is say, Alexa, order the invisible brand by William Ammerman and it will arrive at their doorstep tomorrow morning. But if they're not willing to do that, they can simply go to my website, which is w for William Ammerman, ammerm Ancom, and there they can find out more about me and about the book. Excellent. Thank you again so much for your time. Well done on the book and I just really appreciate we shared here. Thank you so much, Eathan. Great work. Clear Communication, human connection, higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding video to the messages you're sending every day. It's easy to do, which is a little guidance. So pick up the official book. Rehumanize Your Business. How personal videos accelerate sales and improve customer experience. Learn more in order today at Bombombcom Book. That's bomb bombcom book. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Remember, the single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player or visit Bombombcom podcast.

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