This Robot Trains Employees

Written by Monica Savaglia
Posted November 29, 2018 at 7:00PM

My first job was a retail job, which is a pretty common stepping-stone when you're a teenager looking to earn some money. I started to work at Old Navy when I was 16. I'd had no other experience; I went into the job blindly. I'd had no idea what to expect or what kind of scenarios I'd be put in.

If you've ever worked a retail job, you've probably become a more patient and sympathetic customer whenever you shop at a retail store. And that's because you know the bad customers outweigh the good ones. This is also putting into account that we tend to remember the bad experiences over the good ones because they help us learn and know how to react in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, I'd been 16 and had no other retail experience. And I got hired during the holiday season, which is one of the busiest times of the year for retail stores. Anyone who works with customers, and is required to provide a heightened level of customer service, has it rough. And that's especially true if it's your first job, like it was for me.

I had a lot of customers treat me like I was dumb or didn't know how to do my job, even after I'd worked at Old Navy for four years. I had a lot of customers try to return items that were obviously worn and washed. It was difficult to get a customer to listen to you when they'd already planned out the scenario they were about to have with you.

I'd had no training. Although, it's kind of hard to train for those situations, especially with a manager or coworker, until it happens to you and you have time to reflect on it. That's when you can actually learn how to approach a given situation.

Robots Designed to Train Employees

But all that is changing. Robots are slowly being integrated into our everyday lives. And now, there's a robot that's been designed to train employees in situations that involve difficult customers.

A Stockholm, Sweden-based startup called Furhat Robotics has created an "Employee Training Robot." This robot looks a little strange. It's a robot bust with a swappable face that allows it to transform into a man, woman, child, or even an animal. It can swap its face while it's speaking, listening, maintaining eye contact, or even appearing to show emotions to the person it's communicating with.

Furhat Robotics CEO Samer Al Moubayed said in a recent interview:

Social simulation is a very interesting category of use cases where a robot can simulate a character in a social interaction in order to teach humans how to get better at a certain task.

For example, we have a customer in the Netherlands, Rabobank, that is using Furhat to train its employees in being better at giving bad news to customers.

Ideally, practice will make perfect. If an employee has more experience in dealing with challenging customers, they'll be better at keeping their cool and maintaining proper protocol in stressful situations.

This experience might be strange at first for employees. But it'll benefit them in the long run. They'll be able to interact with customers without having to worry about being fired or reprimanded for failing to deal with a situation appropriately.

When it comes to a business, customer service is important. According to NewVoiceMedia, U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion each year from poor customer service. Not to mention, if a customer has even a single negative experience, 51% of them will never do business with that company again.

This is why it's so important for companies to accurately train their employees in different scenarios and better prepare them for the worse. And this way, the companies can keep their customers and continue making money.

Until next time,

Monica Savaglia Signature Park Avenue Digest

Monica Savaglia
Editorial Director, Park Avenue Digest

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