“I cannot fully understand or predict what the system will do, so I don’t trust it,” says Riccardo Bevilacqua of the University of Florida about his autonomous vacuum cleaner.
As Bevilacqua indicates, trust is based on understanding. And understanding is built through successful communications. As the world changes, the ability to communicate, and to do it well, is becoming ever more important, even when it applies to talking to our robots.
“Today we see robots as agents able to operate independently – like my vacuum cleaner – but still be part of a team – the family’s efforts to keep the house clean. If they are truly working with us, rather than instead of us, then communication is key, as well as the ability to infer intent,” Bevilacqua says. In today’s marketplace where concepts such as co-creating value are popular, the same can be said of customers. When customers and suppliers become a team to solve a problem, meet a need or create a new experience, effective communication becomes crucial.
“Unlike older media options where sales and marketing communications were primarily uni-directional (i.e., from producers to end-consumers), communications have increasingly become multi-directional (i.e., from producers to consumers, consumers to producers, and consumers to consumers),” according to Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy® Guide series. As behaviors become more important more people become involved.
As a result of not understanding and trusting his autonomous vacuum, Bevilacqua says, “I play it safe, and spend time doing things to accommodate the needs I imagine the robot might have.” Trying to meet imagined needs is impossible, and in sales and marketing it can be dangerous. To avoid this, a company’s marketing team “should create ‘personas’ of ideal customers in each segment” as part of the market segment selection process, “Then, depending on the market size of each segment and the ability of the company to build products for each persona, the target segments are selected,” according to Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide series.
“Personas are highly detailed fictional characters, representative of particular types of users in a market segment. They are created to help the marketing team identify who the potential buyers are, what they are trying to achieve, what they think, what drives their behaviors, how they buy, and why they make certain decisions,” Marketing Strategy says. These characteristics of potential buyers are essential for beginning and building communication systems and messages that matter.
“The persona should be research based and include highly specific demographic and lifestyle attributes such as age, gender, education, environment, interests, and goals. A quote illustrating the persona’s requirements can also be included,” according to Marketing Strategy. The inclusion of a quote by the persona can help marketing team members envision a welcoming approach and make an easier connection, “With detailed personas, users become more personal and real to the team.”
With the expanding channels and methods for communicating with consumers and users, companies can keep sales and marketing from being a robotic experience for everyone involved. At least, until we learn to communicate better with our robots.
 Riccardo Bevilacqua (Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering, University of Florida) (5/30/16) “Can I Trust My Robot and Should My Robot Trust Me?” GE Reports Retrieved on 5/31/16 from http://www.gereports.com/can-i-trust-my-robot-and-should-my-robot-trust-me/
Originally published (4/4/2016) in The Conversation at http://theconversation.com/can-i-trust-my-robot-and-should-my-robot-trust-me-55553
 Digital Marketing, book three in the SMstudy Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide).
 Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy Guide to the Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide).