In the near future, robotics will provide new opportunities for customer service development in terms of efficiency, user experience, and new types of service tasks. Eco-excluding industrial automation application. Service robots will assist and also add value to customer services such as reception, instruction, and delivery in hotels, hospitals and care homes for nomically feasible, quite sophisticated, humanoid robots with a reasonable degree of autonomy in everyday environments are available now.
A new bottleneck for the application of these robots is the interaction with humans and user acceptance of services provided by robots. Understanding user expectations is the first step towards designing successful services based on advances in robotics.
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Robots are able to elicit positive experiences in service tasks
A service robot is “a robot that performs useful tasks for humans or equipment. Nao is a humanoid robot carrying out reception service tasks. Nao is 57 cm tall so it was put on a table for the comfort of the service users the elderly. In service tasks, the robot does not have to look human, however, research has shown that people tend to perceive human-like robots more positively than machine-like ones.
Interaction and acceptance of robots in public places have been studied, especially with regard to the effect of robot appearance and behavior. Summarizing some results, it seems that humans tend to treat humanoid robots as social actors. Humans prefer talkative robots to quiet ones, perceive robots to have personality traits, and can feel empathy for robots. Although humans seem to prefer human-looking robots, people may feel uncomfortable when a robot is too human-like (the uncanny valley). Based on this research, humanoid robots performing similar (simple) service tasks to humans can be expected to evoke positive responses in users.
An empirical study of user expectations of robot reception
We studied the impact of a humanoid robot on customer expectations and the experience of a reception desk service. The participants (visitors at the reception) mostly expected the robot service to be “available”, “reliable and honest”, “systematic” and “efficient”, but less “pleasant” and “polite”. Such human behavior attributes as “warm”, “intimate” and “personal” were not expected much from the robot. After trying the robot service, the participants found it to be more “helpful” than expected. Overall, the participants expected more from human service than the robot service.
At present, people may not expect much from robots carrying out customer service tasks. However, robots offer huge opportunities for service development, not only because no other technology is more interactive and connecting at an emotional level to people than robots. The emotional and social aspects perceived in robots afford even new kinds of services, for instance, the Paro robot seal therapy. In addition to good service design, other important factors in user acceptance and market success of robot services are the usefulness of the services and their integration into the whole service system.
The success of Smart Cities depends on the seamless interaction between their citizens and technology. VTT has taken the initiative to understand the interaction between service robots and humans to improve the chances of success for companies willing to take advantage of robotics in their service development.