Science Gazette

Avatars in the workplace

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Avatars save money and increase sales

Digital avatars, according to an associate professor of marketing at The University of Texas in Arlington, may replace salespeople and customer support representatives for a tenth of the cost.

Avatars are generally computer-generated representations of individuals in this context. They can fill the hole in interactive support that a majority of buyers say they desire, according to UTA Associate Professor Fred Miao.

“According to an Accenture study of online buyers, 62% never finished their transactions due to a lack of real-time customer assistance or support. According to the Accenture poll, 90% of those customers sought some type of interactive support when buying “rocess,” said Miao, a faculty member at UTA’s College of Business’s John Merrill Endowed Professorship in Consultative Sales. “When deployed correctly, avatars may cover this hole for a fraction of the expense of employing and training actual salesmen and service representatives.”

Miao’s work, “An Emerging Theory of Avatar Marketing,” was published in the Journal of Marketing, the American Marketing Association’s top academic journal.

Miao claims that organizations that use avatar representation should be on the alert for mismatch between their avatars’ shape and behavioral realism. The degree to which an avatar resembles a real person is referred to as form realism. The term “behavioral realism” refers to an avatar’s “intelligence” and whether or not it behaves like a person.

“It’s tough to match those two components of an avatar,” Miao added. “When the physical and behavioral features of avatars aren’t in sync, their usefulness may be uneven and, at best, dependent on the circumstances, such as perceived financial risk.”

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Avatars may be most successful in complicated relational interactions with clients, such as when someone picks a skincare product, when they are very lifelike and clever. Customers are better served with less realistic appearing avatars that yet perform intelligently when interactions entail privacy considerations, such as in mental health interviews.

Miao advises businesses to think about five interconnected areas while utilizing avatars:

  • timing
  • realism in form
  • realism in conduct
  • alignment of form-behavioral reality
  • context and situational variables

“The main conclusion is that, with companies’ finances being so tight, utilizing avatars for marketing or customer support may be a viable management tool to explore, as well as a way of improving sales through consistent service quality,” Miao added.

Miao’s work, according to Elten Briggs, head and associate professor in the Department of Marketing, provides essential insights to organizations.

According to Briggs, “avatars and other types of artificial intelligence are increasingly being used to give services to clients.” “Dr. Miao’s article offers much-needed insight on how firms might use avatars to enhance customer service.”

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