Siri’s Virtuous Circle


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Siri, do you know me?

This is about you, not me.

Siri proves yet again that it’s possible to apply great loyalty practices without actually having a loyalty program. The electronic “assistant” on Apple’s new iPhone 4S model can respond to voice commands to make appointments, set alarms, do web searches and send texts and emails. I only got her on Sunday, but she has already become my Gal Friday when it comes to managing a busy life of work, family, bike racing and fish tacos.

I’ll get to the bikes and tacos in a moment. First, about Siri. As part of her continual learning curve of matching artificial intelligence to each user she supports, Siri establishes trust quickly. She did that right out of her little white box by starting a “virtuous circle” of drip dialogue that she incorporated into relevant communications, with an element of gamification thrown in. Fancy words to say that basically she listens, has conversations with me, and it’s fun.

Can you text my sister?

I don’t know who your sister is. I need a name or contact number or email.

When Siri messes up, I trust she has my best interests at heart and she’s going to do better next time. It’s worth it to keep engaging with her because I know that she will learn from what I say, so my time is well spent. Overall, she makes my life better, and that’s a decent value proposition.

And she learns quickly. The next time I asked her to text my sister, she offered to remember who my sister was. And my mom. When I say “text Eric,” she now knows which of the several Erics in my contact list I want. When I talk to Siri, I feel heard. I know she’s listening because the little microphone icon lights up when she’s paying attention.

Are you better than Iris?

I can’t answer that.

Iris is one of the digital assistant programs that developers are working on for the Android phone system. One of my Erics downloaded her so we could compare. To be fair, Iris isn’t ready for beta. She’s maybe not even an alpha yet, so users are just testing to help generate learnings and feedback. The problem is, Iris wasn’t listening very well and that quickly became tiresome. There was no value for me in yelling the same phrase into the phone over and over, hoping for a different response. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

Siri, I want some fish tacos.

I have found 18 restaurants whose reviews mention “fish tacos.” Sixteen of them are fairly close to you.

Not only does Siri find restaurants selling my favorite lunch, but then she overlays that with my location and finds seven within one mile of my house (ah yes, city life). This, my hungry friends, is relevance.

Siri, do you know what I like?

A fine question, now can we get back to work?

My sister pointed out that perhaps Siri is on the road to commanding control of my phone, much like the HAL 9000 computer did in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. But that may be okay since she is quickly learning what I like and dislike. And maybe even what’s good for me – she knows to set my alarm for the dreaded hour of 5:00am for my cycling workouts. Who knows, maybe soon Siri will be the one spinning the virtuous circle instead of just responding.

So are you saying I should get back to work?

Always do the right thing.

Phaedra Hise
As Senior Editor, COLLOQUY, Phaedra leads the creation of new editorial pieces for multiple distinct content platforms in the COLLOQUY media enterprise: COLLOQUY magazine, the Enterprise Loyalty in Practice journal, COLLOQUY web site, COLLOQUY social media blog, COLLOQUY Network Partner content commitments as well as other LoyaltyOne vehicles.


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