Linguistically I feel better and more comfortable. Somehow I like the idea of classifying language skills into levels. As it says in the title, I think that I have reached the next level. Slowly but surely it feels natural to talk about all sorts of things in English. I almost completely stopped translating words mentally before I make the sentence. I also notice how idioms and certain forms of expression are looped in.
In my opinion, learning the language is like practicing sports. The higher the level, the harder it is to get to the next one. Towards the end of the month, when you've already developed a certain confidence, it's very frustrating when you suddenly struggle to have deeper conversations. Now and then I realize that I can't express myself exactly as I would in my mother tongue. And that is clearly something I can still work on.
I am still curious how confident I feel after 6 months.
September was a very special month because I met all my three flatmates from Bayreuth within three weeks. These visits are very important to me, because I like to show close friends how I live and it is a lot of fun to be surrounded by people who have similar thoughts and attitudes to life. Jacob and André both visited me in Amsterdam. We checked out various bars in Amsterdam, went to a festival and of course I introduced them to my new friends Edward, Federico and Franzi from the internship. The fact that they both want to come again and obviously liked it very much is very important for me.
Towards the end of September I travelled to Oslo to meet with Timo and Laura. I first met both of them last year in Bayreuth and we became very good friends during our first year of master studies. Norway presented itself from its best side and we could hike under best sunshine in the hinterland and spend the night in a cabin in the mountains. This trip was an enjoyable change of pace compared to the hectic city life in Amsterdam.
Besides, something really great has come up. Federico has finally found a room. But not just any room, but in a houseboat on the Prinsengracht (the longest main canal in Amsterdam). Below you can see a picture taken from the boat terrace. The feeling to spend the day on a houseboat in Amsterdam is always unique.
Thanks for the always fun time, guys!
I am still enthusiastic about my internship. Again and again I am fascinated how versatile working with Product Owners is. In order to give you an ongoing understanding of what I'm actually doing, I'm going to give you a little insight into Artificial Intelligence (AI) this month and explain how we implement AI. But first I want to tell you about three special events this month:
It's no secret that companies outsource their CS and have agents who are the contact persons for consumers. Since I myself had worked as an agent in the online store, where I was mainly responsible for pre-sales and sales, I was very excited to see what the post-sales tasks would look like. That's why I was invited to spend a day at Cygnific. Cygnific sits in Sloterdijk and takes over the CS for the Glitch project of adidas (football boots whose skin can be exchanged). It was exciting to see how the agents enter into dialogue with the consumers, solve problems and deal with enquiries via the chat in Salesforce. Many languages meet here and I was impressed how good the atmosphere was. Furthermore, I was attending the business update meeting and got an insight into KPIs and processes.
adidas regularly preaches how important the consumer is and that the consumer is at the heart of everything adidas does. As a fan of the consumer-centric approach, I was very pleased to be able to participate in the Consumer Obsession Day. In theory, I already learned a lot about lead users and focus groups, but I've never been in an initiative like this before. On that day, consumers were invited into the adidas building and could see how we work there. It's a great opportunity for us employees to interact with customers and learn more about their preferences. I was particularly interested in the opportunity to learn more about the shopping behaviour and motives. The bottom line of the day was that most of the people I talked to were buying adidas because of the product and not because of the experience associated with it. Conversely, this also means that it doesn't matter where they can buy the product. Obviously there is potential here to attract even more consumers to the brand's online shop.
The name of the event already says a lot and since the topic is exactly what interests me at the moment, I was very happy to participate. The conference was divided into two subtopics. In one hall they talked about content and social media marketing while in the other hall there was talk about UX, disruptive tech and data. I mainly stayed in the tech hall and tried to absorb as much information as possible. Especially exciting were presentations about voice assistants, design thinking and companies that use tech to make the world a better place and help disadvantaged people. It is always fascinating to see what technology is enabling and how diverse the use cases are. One central statement was always floating in the air: There is no patent solution, because every company has to decide individually which technology is beneficial and whether there is actually added value for the consumer. Solely to implement things digitally and to deploy tech, because it is possible, is not the right way. At the end of the day, a real advantage must emerge in order to use resources for it.
I don't think that I can explain AI better than the usual sources, so I have linked McKinsey's Guide to AI for you. In my opinion this site gives you the necessary basic knowledge about AI in a comprehensive and visual way.
I'll tell you something about a form of AI that is used by us. Since my department is located in CS, our initiative focuses mainly on this area. Since most post-sales customer requests are received via the chat feature, there is a huge potential to save costs, react faster and be available 24 hours a day. To do this, the processing of these requests must be automated. Since customer enquiries are rather complex and always varying processes and tasks, AI can be used here to make communication as human-like as possible. This is why Natural Language Processing (NLP) is used to quickly process, understand and analyze a large amount of data. After that, corresponding processes are triggered, which inform the consumer, for example, about the delivery status of his or her order.
The implementation is called a chatbot. Since the realization is quite time-consuming, we have evaluated and prioritized the customer requests. Accordingly, the most frequently occurring requests are automatically processed and less frequent, more complex requests are handed over to an agent. However, all important data is automatically collected beforehand, which saves the agents a lot of time and monotonous work. Furthermore, the agents can concentrate on a good experience and try to positively influence the brand image in the heads of the consumers. Side fact: Winning a new customer is at least 4 times more expensive than keeping an existing customer.
At the moment I am working on reviewing the functionality of the bot and getting deep into the feedback we get from customers. Based on this, we try to improve the chatbot every two weeks in order to support more customers and save costs.