Machine Customer with James Dodkins – E109

Episode released on: 16. January 2023

Machine Customer with James Dodkins Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview James Dodkins

LinkedIn Headline: Customer Experience Rockstar 🀘 | CX Evangelist @ PEGA πŸ¦„ | International Keynote Speaker 🌍 |


  • 00:00 Game Start
  • 00:38 James’ introduction
  • 01:54 James’ values
  • 02:58 Customer Machine
  • 04:17 Best Practices
  • 06:13 A time question
  • 13:12 Four main type of customer company interactions
  • 15:35 Empathy among machines?
  • 17:12 How to prepare for the future
  • 20:31 James’ preferred example for a customer machine
  • 22:08 The future of CX
  • 23:05 Book Suggestion
  • 23:55 James Contact Details
  • 24:06 James’ Golden Nugget

and much more

Guest’s Contact Details:

His book suggestion:

  • Do B2B Better by Jim Tincher

Guest’s Golden Nuggets:

  • It’s about authenticity. There’s a lot of people out there that are trying to be things that they’re not, and not in a malicious way but in like at least I had. I had trouble with this. When I first went into the corporate world. I was trying to be something that I wasn’t and that was a suit & tie briefcase person and it made me miserable. And I think there’s still a lot of people out there that are trying to fit within a corporate mold. I’m the living proof of this, you’re living proof of this. By stepping back and just being yourself, you can achieve some amazing things. Finding whatever your passion is, and doubling down on it. You’ve managed to do that with football.

Authenticity: A lot of people try to be things they’re not… By stepping back and being yourself, you can achieve amazing things. Find whatever your passion is, and double down on it. @JDODKINS on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

#customerexperience #leadership #cxgoalkeeper #cxtransformation #podcast

what did we discussed?

Gregorio Uglioni
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast your host, Greg will have smart discussions with friends, experts and thought leaders on customer experience transformation and leadership. Please follow this podcast on your preferred platform. I am sure you will enjoy the next episode with the guest I selected for you.

Ladies and gentleman today. It’s really a big, big pleasure because James Dodkins the real James Dodkins is back to the CX goalkeeper podcast, Hi James, how are you?

James Dodkins
Good, how are you?

Gregorio Uglioni
Very well, I’m super happy and thrilled that I can discuss, again with you about customer experience. And I’m sure the next 30 minutes will be a lot of fun, because we are going to discuss about customer machine. This is a big, big topic that you shared those in the last weeks in LinkedIn. A lot of people were looking at that, and I am thrilled to discuss that. However, before we start, I think we would like to learn a bit more about you. And therefore the usual questions. James, could you please introduce yourself?

James Dodkins
Yep. So my name is James Dodkins. I’m the customer experience evangelist at Pega systems. Pega systems is a software company, we take really complicated stuff and make it non complicated. So you can give your customers really great customer service. But enough about that you might know me as the customer experience Rockstar, because I used to actually have a music career. So I used to be an actual real life legitimate award winning Rockstar. But now not now, my customer experience Rockstar. And you know what? It’s better. It’s kind of, sort of, in different ways.

Gregorio Uglioni
But you’re still playing in a group now?


started again.

James Dodkins
Yeah, we’re just not as well known as my old band. Because I don’t have enough time to put into it. Because I’ve got a real job now.

Gregorio Uglioni
Now, that’s great. Thank you very much. And we really appreciate everything, what you’re doing for the CX community, because every time that you are posting, it’s a lot of value. And it’s something new, it’s not always the repetition of something that somebody said, but it’s something that you created with quite a lot of fun and interesting things that we can learn from. The second question I would like to ask you is which values drive your life?

James Dodkins
It’s a good question. So I, I like giving value to others. So it’s something that I think it probably comes from my music days, I get a thrill from people enjoying the stuff that I’ve created. And I think that shows in my content as well. So that like the main thing, especially in the work world is adding value. That’s the main thing. I just want people to like the stuff that I do. And when they do that makes me happy.

Gregorio Uglioni
We’re interesting. And I think what what what you are creating are also experiences for us, because you create memories, everybody can remember the last video you create about the customer machine or machine customer. And I think let’s kick off this discussion. What is a machine customer?

James Dodkins
So, you know, when you ask your digital assistant, whether it be Siri or Google or Alexa to do something for you might ask it to set an alarm or remind you to take the bins out on a Thursday night or whatever. You’re asking it to do something for you. Imagine asking it to interact with a company on your behalf. That is a machine customer. So you could say, okay, digital assistant, call up my utility company and wait on hold for me and then notify me when someone answers you can actually do that now, in real life with Google, you can do that. Imagine being able to go, okay, digital assistant, change my payment date, to the second of the month with all of my companies, that is a machine customer having a machine or a digital assistant, interact with a company on your behalf to get something done.

Gregorio Uglioni
I really liked that. And I think that would save us a lot of time as as customers finding appointment with the doctor with the restaurants. And I you mentioned also in your video and I think the source of what you are also sharing to us was a Google presentation three years ago or four years ago where the Google Assistant was trying to find an appointment for an air cut and also reserving a table for the restaurant. And it I think now it’s really with us it’s coming. Do you have some example? which are the example that you liked the most from from from this machine customer?

James Dodkins
I mean right now the easiest one for us to think about is the The smart meters that accurately report our energy usage, that’s a really good example of it. Because before, what we had to do is, you know, we’d get a call from the utilities company, hey, we need your meter reading. So you go to meter, you write down the numbers you get, you call them back, you tell them the numbers, they work out your bill, they send you a bill, you then call them up, you pay the bill, they’ve taken all of those steps, and essentially made that process go away completely. And this is a thing as well, a lot of times, especially in customer experience, we look at a process and we say, how do we make this process better? How do we improve it make it faster, more efficient, easier? How about how do we eliminate the process? How do we make it go away forever? And that’s what machine customers do. They take processes and eliminate them completely, get rid of them. And it’s that’s, that’s not improving, that’s not getting incrementally better. That’s 100% process improvement because he’s gone. And so the the smart meters is a really good example of that, because that is now acting on our behalf, to interact with the utilities company and just get our bills paid completely, we have no interaction in that at all. All we now have to do is sit there and cry about how much it costs, because it’s a lot.

Gregorio Uglioni
Now, that’s great. And I think that’s that’s That makes total sense. But what you’re saying brings me also to think about that. Companies are always trying to automate processes, simplify processes, or also eliminate processes. But on this in this case, it’s from a customer point of view, to eliminate processes that are irritating for them waiting in the queue, or sharing some information and so on. But it’s still let’s say, something that’s something completely new. From your point of view, how long does it take to be really relevant to this topic?

James Dodkins
It’s a good question. I think it’s relevant immediately, right now, it has to be, things are going to evolve quite quickly. And it will, people will think, ah, that’s just a future thing. And it will be a future thing until it isn’t an overnight all of a sudden, it will be here and everyone will go, Oh, wow. Why didn’t we think of this sooner? You are right about what you said before companies had been automating things for ages, and using chat bots, and self service to try and stop having to talk to us. And they never thought we would go, Oh, actually, that’s a good idea. We don’t really like talking to companies, why don’t we do that. So we’ve started to adopt those principles and those methods for ourselves to not have to talk to companies, because we don’t like doing it either. It’s like, it’s like we’re saying, okay, companies, you don’t want to talk to us. We don’t want to talk to you, we still need to get stuff done. Let’s use machine customers. But there’s when it comes to relevancy, I think, supposedly in Gartner have said this, there’s going to be three different levels of machine customers. So right now we’ve got bound machine customers. So these are things that will do things around very set rules that we have given them, there’s no autonomy, they will just do the things that we ask of them by dry like 2026, maybe you’re gonna have adaptable machine customers. So they are ones where, let’s say I say, hey, digital assistant book, a restaurant for me and my wife on Friday night at 5pm. And it goes away and does it it has the conversation. But the person on the phone says, Oh, we don’t have one at five o’clock. But we do have a table at 530 Would you like that one, the digital assistant will be able to look at my calendar and go, Yeah, that’s gonna be fine, and make a decision on my behalf. Within reason. It’s not going to be like, I couldn’t book you one today. But I’ve booked you one for seven years time. It’s, it will be within reason. So that’s adaptable. And then you’ve got autonomous. Now that’s not going to be supposedly according to Gartner until 2036. So we’ve got a long time to wait for that. But that’s when the digital assistant will go. Hmm. James hasn’t taken his wife to dinner for two weeks now. He probably should. I’m going to look in his calendar, or he’s got he’s got an evening free on the 17th. And it will automatically just do it on my behalf and put it in my calendar notify me it’s like James, I booked your table for this time. Do you want to keep the appointment or not? And I’ll go wow, that was actually yes, I do or No, I don’t. If I don’t, it’ll deal with it. It’ll cancel it. But it will just do it all on my behalf. And it will be things like washing machines that will schedule services or fixes for things that are going to go wrong in two weeks. It’s going to be cars that are going to realize that your tires need replacing, and it will order them in schedule for them to be replaced overnight. It’s going to be the fridge that automatically orders milk for you because you’ve ran out but not only orders milk for you talks to every other fridge within a one mile radius to see who else needs milk and then it will collectively bargain a cheaper price for milk with the local supermarket. It’s it’s going to be That’s, that’s going to be 2036. Apparently, that’s, that’s where you go. So it’s relevant right now. But it’s only going to get more advanced and better as we go along.

Gregorio Uglioni
And but I hope that this digital assistant will be also more intelligent, because if the digital assistant is going to book for you a table with your wife, then your wife will complain that it was the digital assistant thinking about that, and not you, and therefore take care.

James Dodkins
We don’t have to tell her who booked do we?

Gregorio Uglioni
Exactly. You’re right. But thinking on the impact and the impact of what you’re seeing and what Gartner is sharing. Also, from the other side, from the company point of view, let’s think that I say digital assistant, I need a new pair of shoes or digital assistant, I need a black shirt as you are wearing. You are not saying for which brand. And and then and therefore, at the end, there are two options or the machine, your digital assistants knows your preferences, or they will decide for you and therefore for the brand. It’s quite difficult, then to put them into this setup

James Dodkins
yet. So that’s a that’s a great point. So if I say digital assistant, automate some new trainers, right? And it has to then figure out okay, what kind of trainers does he already have? Which ones does he wear the most? Maybe it can look through my pictures in my phone and see the ones I wear the most? What styles does he like? What’s, what size is there? And all these things it’s going to figure out. So what what does it what that means for brands is imagine having to market to a machine customer. So you’re not marketing to humans anymore, we still will be but also you’ll need to market to machine customers. And that’s not going to be like buyer new trainers, they’ll make you jump higher, they’re really cool. They’re blue, it’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be a feed of data about how long the shoes last, how popular they are the reviews that have come back all it’s going to be like millions of data points. That’s going to be marketing to machine customers. Imagine that. Isn’t that crazy?

Gregorio Uglioni
It’s incredible. And I think for brands, it’s a completely mind shift, because then it’s it will change everything because then you will take decision on objectives, information and not subjective, I go there, I have a good mood and therefore I buy three, three pullovers, or three, three shirts. And not only one because I like it, and therefore it will be a big, big change. You mentioned something you mentioned four types of four types. Could you please quickly go through?

James Dodkins
Yeah, so interactions in the future, there’s going to be four main type of customer company interactions, first two already here. So first one is person to person. So that’s me calling up having a conversation with a person or even going into a branch and having a conversation with a person, but person to person. Second one is person to machine. So this happens quite a lot now. So that will be me interacting with a chatbot or some other self service method that’s person to machine. Now the new ones is going to be machine to person. So this is my digital assistant, basically pretending to be a person with a robot voice, which are actually very, like passable nowadays, it’s hard to tell the difference. And talking to a person at the company that’s got all its own problems. Because of course, if I’m there as an agent, and I’m having a what I think is a real conversation with a bot, essentially. And I’m they’re trying to build rapport and have empathy, which essentially, is pointless when you’re talking to a bot they don’t, that’s a waste of time, if anything. So you’ve got those ones. And then it’s the Holy Grail, this is the one that we really want. This is the one where it’s going to be machine to machine. So you got person to person, person to machine that’s already happening. The new ones are going to be machine to person and machine to machine and machine to machine is when my digital assistant automatically plays nicely with your systems and makes things happen in an instant. Like imagine if I could say hey, digital assistant, update my email address with every single company I’ve got an account with and in an instant it’s done. That’s the Holy Grail. And that is the future.

Gregorio Uglioni
Or that’s that’s that’s really a great example because it would it’s a game changer. If you move to a new a new home new apartment, then you don’t have all this time that you waste, finding the way out to communicate with with all the different companies. You mentioned something that I think

James Dodkins
will it’s a good point. So when I joined pega right, I had a buddy guy called Andy McLeod. Shoutout to Andy. And every time he did a demo, he would demo and address change right costs had a boring day like, Why are you picking the most boring thing? Because in my head, I’m like, no address change, all I’m doing is changing a sequence of letters and numbers to some other sequence of letters and numbers. That’s all I’m doing. And then I moved house. And oh, it was so frustrating to just change my address. And I cannot wait until I can go, Hey, digital assistant, update my new address that with every company I’ve got an account with, and boom, it’s done. That is I cannot wait for that to happen.

Gregorio Uglioni
Now, that’s, that’s incredible. You mentioned something that I think it’s really interesting. It’s about empathy. Yes, I think we are speaking in our customer experience, let’s say, to bubble a lot about empathy, being empathetic, and so on. And we know your CX six, that it’s easy, fast, convenient, etc, etc. But if it’s machine to machine or interact interaction with the machine, then empathy, it’s not really relevant. What’s your view on that?

James Dodkins
It’s true, it’s, and that’s the crazy thing. Customer Experience, professionals have spent so much time trying to build empathy into experiences, when we are dealing with machine customers, that’s pointless, it’s actually a waste of time to try and be empathetic to a machine customer. Because a machine customer has a different set of needs. Same outcome still needs to deliver the same outcome, but a different set of needs. And I’m not sure whether this will be the case. But there probably will be at some point when machine customers will have a preference on which companies they prefer doing. And I say prefer machines can’t prefer things. But they will have a bias towards which companies they will want to do business with more often because of how quick and easy it will be. So it’s not going to be about empathy, it’s going to be about how readily available your data is, or how open your API feeds or another crazy stuff like that. That’s going to be the stuff that machine customers care about. Not whether you spend an extra minute on the phone building report by asking me about the weather. No, it’s not gonna care.

Gregorio Uglioni
That’s, that’s true. What’s the weather in your machine words? Who cares about that? No. But I think what you’re saying is really game changing? How should companies prepare for that?

James Dodkins
It’s a good question. There’s loads of things we can do to prepare, and it’s probably three main things. Number one, you need to try and map out the likely scenarios that will have you interacting with machine customers alike list them all out, what are all the scenarios where machine customers could take the place of our actual customers, and then try and rank them in what’s likely to happen the soonest. So, you know, my Apple Watch, measuring my heart rate and, like syncing up with all my health things, and then ordering recipes for foods based on my health got, that’s probably going to be in the future. That’s, that’s not gonna happen overnight. But the things I mentioned about like the smart meters, and me calling up and having my smart my system, wait on hold that stuff, that’s going to be happening a lot sooner. So you’ve got a bit of a roadmap, saying, okay, these are the things that are going to happen, the soonest, these are the things that are going to happen the least soon is but then also looking at which ones are going to have the biggest impact, which ones are going to be the ones that are going to have the biggest impact on our business and our customers. So you can kind of rank them in terms of happening the soonest and biggest impact, you can draw a graph in any way you want. But you kinda need to do that to know what’s coming next, then you need to figure out who’s going to own this stuff? Like, is it going to be customer service? Because there’s going to be a lot of machine customers that are calling into call centers on our behalf? Is it customer experience? Because we’re going to be designing the overall experiences, then? Is it going to be it to it own it? Because computers? Is that it? Or do we need a whole new discipline and prediction here, this is just my opinion. But I think there’s going to be a whole new discipline, a whole new, you know, professional, a whole new profession built around managing machine customers, like machine customer management will be a thing. We will have machine customer management departments, there’s probably going to be certifications so certified machine customer, specialist, I might make it actually that’s but there won’t be things out there teaching us how to deal with this whole new professions, like whole new enterprises, whole new ecosystems, like whole new economies built around machine customers. And then number three, and I think this arguably the most important one, double down on the remaining person to person interactions where a human is actually talking to a human. You’re going to be freeing up a lot of resources with with these machine customers. Your interactions, use it to your advantage. Don’t just don’t just get rid of everyone and just be like, well, you don’t exist anymore, have them, they’re ready to really capitalize on those person to person interactions. So that when I do actually have to call in and talk to you, I get really sort of laser focus mindful interactions with real people that I’ve got the freedom and the empowerment, to do whatever it takes to get whatever I need done. And I think they’re the three main things we’re going to need to focus on.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you, I think it totally makes sense. And looking forward to do the certificate your certification machine customer specialists, could be really, it could be really interesting. Let’s let’s dream about the future. What what what to do about for your, what’s your preferred use case that you would love to have implemented?

James Dodkins
The address change, simply, I would love it, if I can say, hey, digital assistant, update my home address with everyone I’ve got an account with. Now, the implications of this are quite interesting, because if my digital assistant turns around and says, I have updated your address with every one of your companies, apart from telco Corp, who do not accept machine customers, I’m gonna be like, oh, what now I’ve got a call telco Corp, who don’t exist, it’s a made up company, but telco Corp, and do it my actual self, that’s gonna make it net, when my contract runs out, I’m gonna be liable for I don’t really want to have that outlier company, I’m going to look for companies that play nicely with my, my digital assistant. So and I think this is going to be an issue, there’s probably going to be a lot of companies that are going to resist this, that will spend their trying time trying to hunt out what interactions are coming to them from machine customers, and then blocking them. And I think we need to take the exact opposite approach. It’s figuring out which interactions are coming from machine customers, and then working to handle them in the most efficient way possible. But there are going to be companies that are going to block this and I think they’re gonna lose.

Gregorio Uglioni
I think it’s looking forward to all these great use cases that we can really profit as a customer. It’s not the company in profiting because they reduce cost, or they focus on other things. But as a customer really can help and will will help us. I know that you spoke already a lot about the future. But this is one question I always ask. And therefore I like to to ask this question to you. Now it’s in 10 years time from now, we are speaking about customer experience on the CX goalkeeper podcast, what we are discussing about

James Dodkins
probably machine customers that you’re gonna be like, 10 years ago, you were on my podcast talking about machine customers, and everyone thought you were crazy. And it would never happen. But here we are 10 years down the line. And it has happened. What do you think about that James, and I’ll be all crazy and old and stuff. Because I would have been trying to talk to people who don’t care about machine customers, about machine customers, and they’ll be going, I told you, I told you all though, so that’s what’s gonna happen. I imagine.

Gregorio Uglioni
It’s nice. But as I know you, in 10 years time, you will speak about something different, because you are already on the next wave, preparing for the next wave because we need crazy people like you thinking about the future being the futurist, and showing us what could happen in the future. It was a great discussion. Thank you very much, James, for this discussion about measuring machine customer. Before you leave in the last minutes of this game. Three quick questions. The first one is do you have a book suggested that you would like to share with the audience?

James Dodkins
Well, I mean, I haven’t read it yet. So I don’t know if it’s any good, but I assume it is. But I’ve bought it. So it is do b2b better by Jim tincher. There we go. I pre ordered this a while back and it came the other day. So I’m going to read this soon. To help me do b2b better.

Ah, that’s perfect. Thank you. And what’s the best way to contact you?

LinkedIn! Just typing my name was not very many of us, it will be obvious which one I am.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you, the one with a lot of followers. And the last question is a James’ golden nugget. It’s something that we discussed, or something new that you would like to leave to the audience.

James Dodkins
It’s a good question. I don’t I don’t want to just give a knee jerk answer to that. I want to think about it a little bit. So a golden nugget. I think maybe something about authenticity. So I think there’s a lot of people out there that are trying to be things that they’re not, and not in a malicious way but in like, at least I had. I had trouble with this. When I first went into the corporate world. I was trying to be something that I wasn’t and that was a suit and tie briefcase person and you made me miserable. And I think there’s still a lot of people out there that are trying to fit within a corporate mold. And I think, I mean, I’m living proof of this, you’re living proof of this. By stepping back and just being yourself, you can achieve some amazing things. Just, you know, finding whatever your passion is, and doubling down on it. You’ve managed to do that with football.

And are you enjoying the World Cup so far?

Gregorio Uglioni
Yes. But let’s see what happens.

Who do you think’s gonna win?

Don’t ask this because the episode will be published later. And therefore, it’s, then it will be already known who is going to win?

James Dodkins
But Shall I give you my?

Gregorio Uglioni
Yes, please.

James Dodkins
My prediction is I guarantee that England are going to win this World Cup. Do you know why?

Gregorio Uglioni

James Dodkins
because because it’s a bit of a dodgy World Cup, isn’t it emotionally? I think people are going to forget this one and be like, it didn’t really count. And that’s why I know that England is going to win because we’re going to be like, Yeah, that’s a second World Cup win. And people are gonna be like, yeah, no, not really, that one doesn’t count. That’s how I know England are gonna win. And they have gone completely off track. There you go.

Gregorio Uglioni
No, no, I think what you’re saying totally makes sense. You know, at the end, normally, in Switzerland, we’re seeing at the end, Germany will win. The first game that they play was not so successful. But now I would say the usual suspects like Argentina or Brazil, these are the ones to come to the end. But it’s really a completely different world cup. And then I’m sort of a bit skeptical, to be honest.

James Dodkins
Yeah, that’s I think this is going to be one that we all forget about.

Gregorio Uglioni
Exactly. But nobody will forget, forget this discussion. And this episode. Thank you very much, James for your time. It was really great to have you back on the on the CX goalkeeper podcast. Thank you very much, James. Please stay with me and to the audience. I hope that you enjoyed it. I really love to chat with with James is a great guy really inspiring and I think that you get also inspired by this discussion. Thank you very much, and bye bye.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share the word of mouth. Subscribe it, share it. Until the next episode. Please don’t forget, we are not in a b2b or b2c business. We are in a human to human environment. Thank you

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