A bored customer service representative agreed to submit an urgent search request. Two weeks later it turned out to have been an empty promise: the precious shipment had been taken elsewhere – ‘then the tracking code will be removed’ – and had to be considered lost. The messenger was sorry, but his employer took no responsibility and had no solution.
Mistakes were made, but not by me
Just after this frustrating experience, I saw references in a newsletter to a study that showed that the reputation of the parcel service in question had improved significantly and a survey that showed that consumers are annoyed by ‘stupid’ chatbots. I had my doubts about the first, the second I immediately believed. Because that’s how it works: people reason from their own point of view.
In the readable and important book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson describe how great the influence of confirmation bias is on our behavior. That people see and hear, what they want to see and hear and justify their behavior from their personal frame of reference is a fascinating fact. But due to the spread of disinformation and technological developments, it is increasingly difficult to determine to what extent what we see and hear is really true.
Memories not truthful
“If reality were not there, the world would look very different,” comedian Theo Maassen stated in his show some twenty years ago. Functional Nude. It now seems that the time has come: there is not one shared reality or truth. It is now known that our brain exaggerates in order to better remember events, so that memories do not have to form a truthful picture. In that sense, it’s just advertising. Advertising makes a message just that little bit more powerful to get it through your ears. However, the ‘new normal’ goes so far that most advertisers would not have dared to imagine it.
We live in a time when the band Kiss makes millions from selling air guitar strings and the virtual influencer Lil Miquela has over three million followers on Instagram. Real news items are regularly more absurd than De Speld’s satirical articles. Donald Trump’s last weeks in the White House were more incredible than the fiction from the Netflix series House of Cards. BBC World News was banned in China because the regulations there only allow truthful news. Last Christmas, a fake speech by the British Queen Elizabeth was broadcast as a warning about deep fake software. With the help of AI, deceased artists create new songs. Princeton physicist Hong Qin has developed an algorithm that increases the probability that our reality is an artificial simulation. Etcetera.
As it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what is real and what is not, what is true and what is not, beacons of trust are needed, such as fact-checking news media to counter the fake social media posts and synthetic media developed by artificial intelligence. . We have to find a balance again between the necessary/reliable and the fun/new.
You will have sold your air guitar on eBay and then lost your package. Explain that to the chatbot.
This column was written by Dennis Hoogervorst of DPG Media and previously appeared in MarketingTribune 09. Dennis is involved in research & insights at DPG Media.