Antony Edwards, COO of Eggplant

Antony Edwards, COO of Eggplant

Though the global pandemic has brought change, it has brought new opportunities to businesses. Industries have been forced to digitally transform overnight if they had not already, and increase their usage and reliance on technology to maintain operations while physically apart.

As people across the globe find a balance between working from home and transitioning into a new normal, user experience has become an even more crucial part of supporting customer satisfaction. And it’s no surprise why – we are now all relying on digital platforms to live our lives, from work to socialising. It’s understandable that consumers get frustrated when platforms crash or don’t work as they expect or even at all – a network failure, such as Virgin Media’s recent crash or Whatsapp going down around the world can severely impact people’s working days and routines.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but efficiency can take a hit

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more prevalent, and playing more roles in various industries – retail, healthcare and manufacturing to name a few – helping organisations become more efficient, easing pressure points and enhancing customer experience. AI reduces the need for synchronisation and enables people to be more efficient, with its ability to automate standard administrative tasks. Since teams are no longer in one place, better yet spread around the world, these types of technologies are critical. An Omdia report found that the global market for AI software will expand to nearly $100 billion by 2025. As organisations are pivoting online, using new software and applications, they are starting to bring AI to front office roles in order to keep their business afloat.

As our world digitally transforms, every business is being judged based on ease of use and customer service. To succeed, there’s a need for organisations to offer an amazing experience that helps them meet and exceed their desired business outcomes, in addition to staying ahead of competitors. In making AI emotionally intelligent, it can create a deeper, intimate connection with customers. For example, if you run an online marketplace and your customer is buying off emotion — the need to buy it right this minute — do you know how your application needs to perform to maintain that sense of urgency? Do you need something different from your baseline performance timings? Do customers require a different look and feel to the user interface (UI)? These elements often aren’t tested and thus, the software is not creating your ideal business outcomes.

How to Make AI more Emotional

To remain relevant in the post-COVID work, companies can no longer rely on just their product; understanding customers’ emotions and knowing how to properly respond to them is vital.

Though emotional AI is not widespread, tech giants and startups in various sectors, including automotive and retail, have invested in making their technology more human through computer vision and voice recognition. Gartner forecasts that in two years, 10% of personal devices will have emotional AI capabilities. But with new technology, comes new risks, and reading emotions is one of them.

Businesses need to demonstrate that they are listening and care about consumers by marketing appropriate products and ensure their algorithms are updated on the current times. AI experts and ethics councils have long examined and expressed outrage against algorithms that are built on biased parameters. Businesses don’t want to be deemed as thoughtless or insensitive, and poorly built algorithms can come back to haunt them down the line.

Emotional AI is a powerful tool that can provide new metrics to understand people; redefining products and services in the future. However, it is important to consider and assess any risk.

Testing Emotions in Tech

Using AI to interpret emotions, and turning them into data could raise concerns around privacy. To avoid users feeling like someone is watching their every move, it’s important to be transparent about what is being collected, how it’s being collected, and why it’s being collected.

Author Rana el Kaliouby shared in her recent book, that “technology should only ever be used with the full knowledge and consent of the user, who should always retain the right to opt out.” While companies want to create deeper connections with their consumers by building and deploying emotional AI technologies, responsibility measures need to be involved. This way, they will be able to maintain user trust and ensure the appropriate actions are taken should problems, i.e bias or data breaches, arise. This is where software testing comes in.

As we move into a touchless, automated era, the race to perfect these technologies ensues; however, software testing needs to be top of mind in order to provide a frictionless, high-quality digital experience that results in successful outcomes for all involved. Flawless and correct software is considered the norm by users, so it is necessary to ensure that every interaction an application or system has with a customer satisfies their physical, mental and emotional needs. To achieve this flawless experience, business leaders must investigate every possible user journey through continuous, automated testing.

It’s no secret that emotional AI is surrounded by controversy. Making sure this tech is robust and error-free is essential for its adoption and longevity. Testing the user experience should be implemented for online businesses, as this will identify weak areas of an application or device, and allow teams to fix any problems with the software. Apps and services that perform well and provide users with what they need will establish user trust and customer loyalty.