How AI Image Misuse Made a World of Miscommunication [Willy's Chocolate Experience]

It’s been just over a year since I delved into the nuances of AI-powered imagery, exploring its pros and cons while underscoring the importance of responsible usage. It was a matter of time before I’d find myself coming right back to discuss instances of its misuse in the realm of customer service.

As a writer for the Service blog and a chronically online TikTok user, I’d be remiss not to discuss the crazy customer service story of the Glasgow Willy’s Chocolate Experience that happened just last month.

What originally started as fun marketing for a family-oriented pop-up event, quickly went awry and turned into a complete service disaster. In this article, I’ll give you a brief overview of the event, identify opportunities for service improvement, and show you what future success can look like in these situations.

The Situation: A New Immersive Experience

Most likely drawing inspiration from the latest attention for the movie Wonka (2023), event organizer Billy Coull was inspired to create a magical experience of his own. Under the label of his firm, the House of Illuminati, he advertised a family-oriented event in Glasgow, Scotland, on February 24th-25th.

On their website and social media, he shared AI images as promotional material like these:

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While these images are sweet, they have massive indicators that they are artificially generated. For example, I‘m not sure about you, but I can’t find “encherining” in a dictionary, and some of the depicted candies are misshapen.

Image Source

Parents trusted the organizer and RSVP’d, paying up to £35, or around $45, each to attend. Naturally, families were expecting an experience like the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; whimsy, mystical, and exciting.

House of Illuminati then dropped the ball on its opening day, leading customers into a warehouse with miscellaneous decorations, an ill-equipped staff (allegedly given scripts two days before) left to perform a story of Willy McDuff and his “Wonkidoodles.” They were also only offered jelly beans and lemonade that soon ran out — not even chocolate.

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The event was so bad that it even earned itself a song on TikTok, “Pure Algorithimination.”

So we‘ve gone over how it failed, but what opportunities did the House of Illuminati have that could’ve made for a better customer experience?

The Opportunities

1. Make sure your immersive experience is immersive.

The “immersive experiences” trend means nothing if the customer experience isn’t there.

Customers needed to get more description of an itinerary for the Willy’s Chocolate Experience. Had the firm developed a more compelling story of tangible fun activities to partake in upon arrival, children could still have more to do than stand around confused.

2. Ensure your event has a service desk.

One of the craziest parts about the Willy’s Chocolate Experience was that there was nowhere they could make a complaint or request a refund.

Allegedly, some customers called the police trying to look for some sort of a solution. Your customers should never feel that unsupported at an event they’ve paid money and traveled to. Include a form of a service desk to provide a primary point of communication between customers and your business.

3. Use AI imagery, but don’t falsely advertise.

Artificial intelligence is an incredible tool, making visuals in seconds for relatively cheap, but misusing it to advertise falsely is a full-blown scam.

I don‘t think it’s unethical to use AI to make magical posters, as I’m sure it helps less tech-savvy business owners gain more visually appealing assets. But, it needs to meet your customers’ expectations for the service they’re being provided.

And finally, the most obvious opportunity for improvement:

4. Vet your AI images.

Frequent spelling errors that make nonsensical statements aren’t the best way to represent your business. Ensure the visuals you share are sensical and appropriate, giving customers some programming insight.

So how could the Willy’s Experience have succeeded? And how can your business navigate this type of situation?

How to Succeed

  1. Equip your service reps with the tools they need to deliver a good customer experience.
  2. Make programming that keeps customers engaged in multiple ways; offer refreshments, games, and amenities for everyone.
  3. Use AI responsibly to build hype, but don‘t set expectations your business can’t meet.

Don‘t let this one event deter you from providing an excellent immersive experience to your customers if you have what it takes to make them happy. If you take the time and effort to prevent these mistakes, you’ll set your business up for success.

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