Liz Partridge (LP): Google talks about the ‘age of assistance’, but what does this really mean?
Peter Giles (PG): Let’s think about it – how many times a day do you use technology to help you do stuff? To call a cab, order your dinner, manage your diary, check into a flight. And what devices do you use – an iPhone, Google home or Amazon echo, maybe VR? The list is endless – in fact there is very little we do these days without using technology to help us. Add to this the fact that we have all become incredibly impatient – we’ve seen searches for ‘same day delivery’ double – and far more demanding than ever before and you have an environment where assistance is king.
LP: How is this impacting the way we interact with brands?
PG: We live in a world now where assistance is driving preference. What this means is that we will choose a particular product not necessarily because it is the best on the market or because we like it most, but because it is the easiest to get hold of.
Let’s take pizza – Domino’s have created an amazing bit of tech for ordering a pizza, it’s so easy to use and it remembers all your details – it takes just a few taps on the phone and your pizza is at your door. People will now choose to order Domino’s over their preferred sourdough pizza because it’s quicker and easier.
LP: So what does this mean for brands?
PG: This is where it starts to get really exciting. A company can now have such a strong assistive based relationship with their customers in one field, that they can move into a non-related industry and succeed.
This is already happening – look at Uber….a taxi company that is now delivering food. On the face of it, this really shouldn’t make any sense. But Uber has built up such a powerful reputation that we don’t care that they have no experience in the food industry, we are won over by their reputation for great service. I can see this kind of shift happening more and more. Take Domino’s again – in my mind they are now really a great tech company that delivers pizza….it’ll be interesting to see where they take this.
LP: What should brands be doing to make themselves as assistive as possible?
PG: To be as assistive as possible – you need to be faster and know your customers better than ever before. It is very much in line with what you guys have been saying about faster, harder, stronger – people are impatient, over half of us will leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. 3 seconds! Ultimately we want real time responses. And we want personalisation, we expect it – from recommendations to emails to financial transactions, everything needs to be tailored to our individual needs. If it’s not, we walk away. The brands that can get this sorted the fastest will be best placed to capitalise on our assistance driven culture.
LP: You mentioned Google Home earlier – can you give us a few last thoughts on voice search and where this is heading.
PG: Voice search is massive and is only going to get bigger as personal assistant devices improve and more people own them and we’re taking big steps to develop how voice search works. One of the hardest things about voice search is that the language we use when we speak is so different to how we’d have typed the same search into our phone. We use much longer sentences and more natural language. We’re also now seeing a split in search as people continue to use written search when in public spaces but voice search when they’re at home or in their car. We need to cater for both. As everyone is, we’re on a journey here and we’re learning how best to make this work, how to make sure that people get the answers they want from the questions they ask or searches they do, no matter how or where they do it. Watch this space.
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