NTT DATA Business Solutions

Digital humans - the new welcome


Digital humans are on the rise in companies and organizations all around the world – and it’s easy to see why.

We’ve all been there. A tense peak-hour drive in heavy rain or a wet walk into one train station and out of another on your way to an early morning off-site meeting.

You arrive damp, cold, and vaguely stressed to find a long line of other guests waiting to register their arrival. Behind the counter, just one frantic receptionist juggles visitor cards and notification calls to staff to come and get their guest while also trying – unsuccessfully – to instruct another guest on how to work the automatic check-in screen.

Time is ticking. And you’d really like to use the bathroom.

Imagine your relief on hearing someone say, “Come on over here. I’ll register you.” Imagine turning to find a calm, smiling face that looks pleased to see you. And imagine your surprise when you realize it’s an on-screen digital human who, in no time at all, has managed to ask you who you were there to see, notified the person, given you directions to the bathroom, and told you where you can grab a coffee afterwards.

This is not the future, it’s now. All over the world.

In this post-pandemic landscape, finding reception staff – or any staff – is more difficult than ever. It’s part of the reason for the exponential growth in digital humans. The other is that they provide a hassle-free, cost-effective way to support reception staff at peak times or provide service outside normal working hours. They’re always happy, never tire and give guests a far better, more personalized welcome than a monitor screen.

You’re also free to build a character to suit your brand or industry. If you’re a legal firm or government agency, you might create a more formal digital human who’s professional, efficient, and polite. An ad agency might decide on a personality that’s just as helpful but a bit quirky. It’s also possible to make your digital human bilingual, with a new language taking just a few weeks to learn. Whatever character you decide to create, you can be sure it will ensure guests feel met and welcome when they arrive.

But compared to scrolling through a menu and entering details manually, why does a quick chat with a welcoming face make such a difference to how we feel? Tina Dupont, Product Director AI & Robotics at NTT DATA Business Solutions explains:

The first thing we do when we’re born is gaze up at our mother’s face. We learn to recognize her and it’s emotionally soothing. Smiles do the same thing – they make us feel happy. They release hormones in our bodies, and we feel like we’ve been met.

That’s why we’ve designed our digital human to be empathic and have a sense of humor. She has little expressions we all recognize and tilts her head to one side when she’s listening to someone – which is what we do. A screen can’t do that. And we see something of ourselves in things with similar characteristics.

Perhaps another reason is that in this digitalized world, we’re all someone else’s part-time employees, at least a few times a day. Whether it’s fumbling with passwords to log in to the bank, using the self-service register at the supermarket or making a doctor’s appointment online. A digital human removes one of these potential situations because no manual input is necessary. You walk up, say what you’re there for and she does the rest.

For companies, the value in this is that visitors have an efficient yet friendly welcome, rather than having to face an impersonal screen, scroll down a menu and input information to announce their arrival. That makes an immediate difference to the visitor. It’s also more fun.

As for the bottom line, after hardware costs, a subscription for a digital human is around half the salary of a full-time reception employee. Installation takes about four weeks, and you can choose to terminate the agreement with three months’ notice.

Interested? If you’d like to find out more about what another friendly face could do for your organization, then why not book a free ideation session? It’s a great way for you and your colleagues to find out more, have questions answered, and discuss possibilities.

Book an ideation session 

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