As smart as a ‘bot?

The biggest bank in the U.S. – JPMorgan Chase – took a chance on an artificial intelligence machine called Persado (call me paranoid, but if you say that out loud it sounds similar to persuade-o, as in, “Let me persuade-o you to buy something.”). The bank pitted Persado against human copywriters and Persado won. Even bigger news, in my opinion, is that Persado won using words that humans should be using.

The product is home equity loans. Here’s what a human wrote for an online ad:

“Access cash from the equity in your home.” = an average of 25 clicks per week.

And Persado? Things got a little more personal with Persado:

“It’s true – you can unlock cash from the equity in your home.” = an average of 47 clicks per week, almost twice as many clicks.

I’ve been talking a lot of digital media and how important it is for businesses to jump in. You might think this article is about “beyond digital” and jumping on AI. Nope. This article is about humanizing the way you do business. Because that’s exactly what Persado is doing. It’s a virtual gold miner, digging up word nuggets that make messages more appealing because they are more conversational, more personal, more human.

It took a robot to remind us that our customers are people who want to be treated like people. Not annoyances, not interruptions, not dollar signs. People.

I say it all the time: We’re in the people business. We need people to operate our business and we need people to buy what we’re selling. Somewhere along the line, though, too many of us decided treating people with dignity, respect and care was a personal or business expense that could/should be reduced.

I’m not sure which came first in this scenario, the chicken or the egg. Who started this downward spiral of bad behavior – the customer or the people in business? Trying to live by “the customer is always right” can be challenging. Appreciation for doing it right the first time is rare. Too often my employees get screamed at (not exaggerating) over the phone and even in person for situations out of their control. At the same time, I’ve been on the customer end of a phone call where my concerns are addressed by someone reading a script that resembles a “Who’s on first” routine.

Pointing fingers doesn’t benefit anyone. Being a decent human being first benefits everyone. If a ‘bot can figure out how to woo people into taking the next step in the sales sequence almost twice as much as a human, maybe we need to learn from the ‘bots. That’s exactly how artificial intelligence improves, by learning from humans.

Turning the tables and learning from AI is a game changer. Try connecting with customers on a human level and see if you aren’t naturally smarter than a ‘bot.