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What is the cost of human error? Can customer loyalty and brand perception actually improve when something goes wrong? In this age of advanced technology, costly human errors still occur. Technology and automation, however, can help turn these costs into benefits. 

An opportunity to show value

Consider the "accidental" price increases at Starbucks this summer, when the coffee giant accidentally overcharged customers by rolling out price increases earlier than it had announced. Computerworld and others reported that the cause was a human error related to its point-of-sale (POS) systems. The company subsequently alerted customers to the error and offered to make things right. 

In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor mistake. Could it have been prevented? Better yet, could procedures have been put in place to correct it automatically?

When an error occurs within a retail POS system or online ordering system, especially when a loyalty program is involved, there's an opportunity for vendors to showcase the value of such programs by automatically rectifying errors. Instead of annoying customers by making them call customer service, send an email, or return to the store, vendors can create a positive impression by using their technology to detect errors and pay refunds automatically.

Artificial intelligence as competitive advantage

Although companies of all types are investing heavily in artificial intelligence technology (AI),  Facebook has shown particular commitment. Much has been written about Facebook's use of AI in facial recognition, but its research behind the scenes goes much deeper. In June 2016, for example, Facebook announced the DeepText project, which uses AI to understand and analyze text. Facebook researchers are also focused on using AI to improve network security and avoid data breaches.

Finally, Facebook is pursuing AI technology that can customer service.  Automation has the potential to revolutionize customer service by eliminating human error. AI is considered so strategic to Facebook that the company went from having no official research arm to now having two: the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) facility and its Applied Machine Learning program. Both aim to help humans communicate more effectively, connect more efficiently, and discover what matters to them more quickly—all while keeping them on Facebook.

Automating disaster recovery

Disasters take many forms and can affect many regions of the world—and your business as a result. Often, human error can lead to a chain of events that cause a disaster or compound the effects of disaster response. The use of automation and orchestration technology can help by speeding disaster response and recovery time, and eliminating human errors that often occur in frenzied and stressful situations.

By putting technology in place to address disaster recovery, you're already ahead of the 40 percent of organizations that don't have a strategy in place at all. It also helps to ensure your disaster recovery strategy is up to date with changes in your processes in order to minimize your downtime.

The next time something negative happens because of human error or a natural disaster, you'll be telling your customers how technology kept their systems and data safe and available instead of giving them updates on when they'll be back in business.