I’ll be posting here regularly sharing great customer experiences I’ve seen, heard or experienced myself and would love to get contributions too!
If you’ve come across anything I could feature and write about, please drop me a note.
Invasion of the Robots
You learn a lot talking to delivery drivers
I had my fortnightly Ocado grocery delivery this evening and got talking to the driver about my substitute crab meat (don’t judge me)! Out of curiousity I asked who chooses the subsitutes and what judgement do they use? It turns out Ocado are now using robots to pick and pack our groceries, ready for the van drivers to deliver it. How cool is that?! So I went to do some research and found that Ocado really are at the forefront of Robotics in assisting their customer experiences.
Ocado are the UK’s and possibly the world’s largest online only supermarket. They are one of the few non tech companies taking technolgy and innovation very seriously. They have created a sub division known as Ocado Technology, who have basically been given the license to create, test, learn and innovate – powering the supermarkets retail platform and revolutionising the delivery of groceries. What makes this even more interesting is that they build most of their technology in-house and the robot above is just one of many interesting and exciting revolutions Ocado are bringing out.
As recently as last month, they trialled driverless delivery vans in my old neighbourhood. Our neighbourhood Facebook forum went to town, with those who took part showing off mainly. Can you tell I was jealous that I was no longer living there and therefore not able to be one of the lucky few able to take part in this trial? *gives side-eye emoticon. From what I gathered from the myriad of selfies with the van and the display of the food received, the vehicle is electric and completely silent – see write up of a fellow neighbour and pictures here
Robots, AI & the customer experience – really?
So back to the Robots and most importantly why I care. We are hearing about the increase use of chatbots, AI, robotics, and how they are transforming the customer experience. However I’m yet to be awed or convinced about it really improving the cusotmer experience in a memorable way. Yes, call handling times and wait times may be getting shorter, but what impact is it really making on the emotional human experience? I agree that this new generation of tech innovation has the potential to dynamically change the game and truly transform customer experience, I just don’t think it’s all there yet. Let’s take chatbots for example, they have been used for years, and have probably caused more frustration in that time than helped. But because they’ve been “learning” all this time, building up knowledge and understanding of the context of customer service questions rather than just content – they are now becoming very useful tools in the customer service toolbox. So when I started looking into my Ocado drivers nugget of information, I was truly impressed. This is making a great impact on the customer experience – especially because the substituted crab meat was so tasty, my husband asked why we hadn’t ordered it before. Thanks Mr Robot!
I’m a big fan of Ocado, and I guess this discovery has probably tipped me from fan territory to what I term as ‘lovalist’ – a loyal lover of a brand. A company that puts it’s money where it’s mouth is and invests in technology that makes the life of its employees, customers and company better, gets my vote for sure. However, it’s important that Ocado Technology remember that its people and machines will need to work in tandem. Adding the control of human intervention in support of the adoption of AI and robotics is always going to be best and most solid foundation of a great customer experience. Lastly, making its employees fans and loyalists goes a long way. Removing the fear of “the robots coming in to steal our jobs” and instead educating its employees on the benefits so they can confidently speak to their customers like my driver Alim did today, will go a long way.
I look forward to seeing what else Ocado have in store – if they are inventing a robot that also doubles as a chef, can bring the groceries and make a meal with the ingredients – I promise to never even look at another supermarket again!
The vision for Ocado Technology is “Powering the future of retail through sustained disruptive technology innovation” – so let’s watch this space!
Check out this video of the Warehouse.