John Watton: using AI to humanise customer experience

Customer experience is becoming the critical differenciator for business. Counter-intuitively, AI could be the route to humanise the experience at scale.


John Watton leads European marketing for Adobe’s Enterprise portfolio of creative, document and marketing solutions that empower brands to deliver the best digital experiences.

We’re going through an unprecendented period of change on so many levels. Everyone’s struggling to figure our how to adapt to that, and most notably, people are getting more demanding of their customer experience. Experience is king.

Monzo in the UK is radically changing the banking experience for the digital age. It’s making it not only easier to open an account, but also to move accounts.

Amazon has changed our experience of delivery – many people now immediately filter for Prime delivery, because they expect to get whatever they’re buying tomorrow. That’s the defining characteristic of their decision making while shopping.

At Adobe we’re seeing this experience business wave – the companies that deliver good experiences will thrive. There are four main elements of this:

  • Know me and respect me: The customer must feel that you know them, and are tailoring the experience for you. Do things because they’re right, not just because you can. Use the channel that suits them, not you.
  • Speak in one voice: You get the same experience whatever channel you use
  • Make technology transparent: Make the technology as invisible as possible. The customer doesn’t care about your tech problems.
  • Delight me at every turn: Be more than timely and efficient. Be intriguing, exciting and unexpected.

An AI-powered World

You need AI to help you service the volume of customers many businesses are serving. AI can do more than automate routine tasks. It can create immersive experience, hyper-personalisation and more.

There’s an expectation that technology will dehumanise experiences. But AI could reverse that. VR, AR, AI, wearables and the Internet of Things can work together to humanise experiences.

Bear these things in mind:

  • Empathy – building trust in your service and brand by being responsible and knowing the customer
  • Serendipity – aiding surprise and discovery. AI is helping consumers discover things that they didn’t expect. Stack is a subscription service that sends you a random mag every month. Music services recommend music to you that you’ve never heard of. It’s an example of how far expectations have changed. 20 years ago, you bought a few albums you liked. Now we demand surprises and recommendations.
  • Privacy – a whole new form of it. A good digital experience uses tech to connect – and disconnect – the world. VR can create a new, private experience.
  • Reciprocity – a give and take relationship with tech. People are happy to teach a machine is they see a value in what it will do.
  • Adaptability – give a seamless experience across channels, and adapt the experience with your understating of the customer.

Adobe Sensei is Adobe’s vision of AI, concentrating on:

  • Creative intelligence
  • Content intelligence
  • Customer experience