What might we expect next that may help us communicate with and empower customers? Applied Digital Solutions is seeking the FDA’s permission to market a computer ID chip that can be embedded under a person’s skin. The device, called a VeriChip, is about the size of a grain of rice and would be difficult to counterfeit or transfer to another person. Imagine the possibilities: no worry about lost credit cards; quicker boarding at the airport without having to show photo ID three times; and the ability electronically to recognize customers the minute they enter your store.
What will marketing (and CMR) be like when computers can sense customers’ emotions? “E-motional” technology is already being developed by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Integrated Media Systems Center. The project is aimed at understanding customers’ needs and creating smart self-service systems that can adapt to emotional signals.
Researchers are creating templates of facial features, expressing emotions such as joy, surprise, anger, fear, and sadness. Then, smart cameras that operate on sophisticated modeling techniques map customers’ facial features against a base of known facial reactions and match them to an emotional state. The modeling process will allow self-service devices to make appropriate offers in real time. If you forget your glasses and are forced to squint to read the ATM monitor, the ATM will increase the type size, or if you smile at a product ad on a store kiosk the device can print out a coupon just for you.
What does all this technology have to do with allowing customers to manage their relationships with your company? Empowerment tools are changing fast. They will continue to change faster than we can now imagine. Some will say this technology borders on invasion of privacy; customers will be receptive to this new sharing of information only if we continue to find ways to respect their wants and needs. Our responsibility will be to use these new tools carefully, judiciously, and with great respect for our customers and our world.
Robert M. Rubin, “Business Case: Will We Reach 1984 by 2004?” informationweek.com, March 25, 2002, p. 1.
Jo Bennett, “The E-Motional Rescue of Self-Service Devices,” INSIDE 1to1, May 5, 2002, p. 3.