The rise of artificial intelligence has sparked debate among experts and researchers, but a recent study conducted by Edith Cowan University (ECU) sheds light on the potential benefits of using social robots in commercial settings. The research, led by Marketing and Service Science Professor Sanjit Roy, delves into the relationships between customer equity drivers, trust in social robots, and trust in service providers. This study, published in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change, offers valuable insights into the intersection of technology and customer experience.

Professor Roy highlights that the integration of social robots in retail aligns with the principles of Industry 5.0, where humans and machines collaborate seamlessly. These robots serve various functions, such as entertainers, social facilitators, friends, and mentors, enhancing the overall customer experience. They can handle repetitive tasks, streamline processes, and even assist in complex assignments like identifying medical conditions. By automating certain aspects of service delivery, social robots enable businesses to scale their operations, boost productivity, and cut down costs.

One of the key findings of the research is the impact of social robots on value equity for businesses. The presence of these robots enhances the perceived quality of service delivery, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness. This, in turn, fosters trust between customers and the robots, ultimately influencing their relationships with service providers. Investing in value equity generates trust, shaping customers’ perceptions and interactions with social robots. Successful human-robot interactions lay the foundation for long-term relationships, driving trust and loyalty over time.

Challenges of Human-Robot Interactions

While social robots offer numerous benefits, there are challenges associated with replacing human interactions with robotic ones. Robots may lack authenticity and emotional connections that humans provide, impacting the relational aspects of customer service. However, if robots can deliver superior efficiency and convenience, customers may prioritize utilitarian benefits over social interactions. The research suggests that customers’ preferences for utilitarian or social benefits can vary based on industry and the nature of services offered.

Building Trust in Service Providers and Social Robots

Trust plays a critical role in shaping customers’ interactions with service providers and social robots. For customers unfamiliar with technology like social robots, trust is established through indirect cues, such as the reputation of the service provider. Businesses must focus on enhancing relationship equity and brand equity to optimize customer experiences with social robots. Trust in service providers serves as a conduit for trust in social robots, emphasizing the importance of transparency, reliability, and consistent communication in building lasting customer relationships.

The research conducted by ECU sheds light on the transformative potential of social robots in commercial settings. By understanding the dynamics of customer equity drivers, trust, and relationships, businesses can leverage social robots to enhance customer experiences and drive long-term loyalty. The integration of technology like social robots not only streamlines operations but also fosters trust and credibility among customers. As businesses continue to embrace automation and AI, prioritizing customer relationships and trust-building initiatives will be crucial in navigating the evolving landscape of customer service.

Technology

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