Forgetfulness and service expectations: the impact of smart technologies

Pixar’s Inside Out movie follows five main characters – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – inside a young girl’s head that are guiding her through emotional responses to actions in her life. The movie also lightly touches on how technology has changed the way our brains retain information. In one scene, it shows information like people’s phone numbers being swept from the girl’s mind because they are now all saved in her mobile device. This animated portrayal of “digital amnesia” reveals why technologies like proactive customer engagement and voice biometrics can be critical to business success.
Pixar’s Inside Out shows how technology may be causing “digital amnesia.”

Pixar’s latest cinematic creation – Inside Out – is one of the most endearing movies I’ve seen in a long time. The movie centers on the inner workings of the brain of a young girl, personified by five main characters: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. The characters take turns directing the girl’s emotional responses to the activities of her daily life. A winning goal in the hockey game is directed by Joy. A move to a new city far from her friends puts Sadness in the driver’s seat. And, a vegan broccoli pizza brings Disgust to the table.

The movie is an animated, funny take on how our emotions as individuals rule our lives. We experience these same kind of emotions each time we encounter a customer service experience. Customers feel joy when the customer service experience easily and intuitively meets their needs. Or, they feel anger and disgust when the experience is cumbersome or unable to solve their problem.

As customer service professionals, our goal is to always elicit joy from a customer experience. But, as Greg Pal has talked about in the past, it’s not about delighting your customers. It’s about making the customer experience effortless. However, behind eliciting the right kind of emotions from customers, the movie also touches on another key factor in the minds of customers = memory.

The creators of the film worked hard to ensure the science behind the movie’s emotional characters and the way the brain is organized makes sense. From the core memories that shape our personalities to the long-term memory library and the Dream Production Studio, we see the same principles at play in our own heads. The movie even goes on to poke fun at how our brains have changed as technology has become more prevalent in our lives.

In one scene, the “mind workers” inside the girl’s head are deciding what memories to discard and which ones to keep. Phone numbers were amongst the first memories to get the axe because, as the movie says, these are all now stored in our mobile devices so why would we need to remember them? In today’s digital world, this is very true. With smartphones, smart watches and tablets always at our fingertips, we really don’t need to remember much. Whether it’s a spouse’s phone number or the address of a doctor’s office, we have easy access to essential information, without ever committing it to memory. This reliance extends to all areas of life, and increasingly consumers expect businesses to help them remember critical information.

Proactive reminders and updates are becoming the mandate for keeping consumers on track. In fact, Nuance research from earlier this year shows that nearly half of health plan members with a chronic disease admit they forgot recommended screenings or labs (e.g., diabetic eye exams or A1c3 tests) without a reminder, 26 percent forgot to take their medication and 66 percent forgot to attend either recommended provider or health coach appointments.

Those numbers demonstrate a significant case of “Inside Out” forgetfulness and a huge opportunity for organizations to fill that memory gap. And, the same is true across a number of industries – forgotten bills that are due; missed prescription refills; missed deliveries; forgotten paperwork; or, forgotten passwords and PINs. All of these are areas where technologies like proactive engagement or voice biometrics can go a long way in solving these instances of “digital amnesia.”

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the mind workers vacuuming away those memories!

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Lynn Ridenour

About Lynn Ridenour

Lynn leads the solutions and channel marketing efforts for the Nuance Enterprise Division. She enjoys engaging with customers, learning about their businesses, listening closely to understand their challenges, and exploring how they are optimizing their customer care experiences. Lynn has spent more than 20 years working at the intersection of marketing and innovation. She’s a veteran of several venture-backed companies in the telecommunications, software, Internet and clean technology industries.