Google, United, IA and the Human Touch

My Flight is delayed, my connections is an hour… if everything goes right I’ll get to Austin at Midnight. My AirBnB host’s lockbox broke. She’s flying to LA. My keys will be under a lantern (!?!) and it just wont stop raining.

I get the next updated from United. The first leg of my flight is delayed even more. I WILL miss my connection.


I call United, a nicely automated IVR prompts me to the right spot, and then the phone hangs up...

I try again. Ivy answers. She listens to me. I try to speak in a calm, I am not worried, voice and share my predicament. She can sense that I am worried.

Alas there is a solution

A flight through Denver that will still get me to Austin tonight. She quotes me Flight 720 through Denver, with the connecting flight leaving at 8:20.

Denver? …

Wait wasn’t the previous flight delayed because it was flying through Denver? I quickly Google when it lands.


Thank you Google for saving me from getting stuck in Denver!

We try again. Ivy recommends a new option. I promptly google the delay status and accept that although the flight to SFO is delayed there is still a 2 hour window and I might still get to Austin tonight.

Moral of the Story

Humans don’t know everything. They rely on machines and algorithms to give them information and help them. If it wasn’t for United’s flight delay email I would have been at the airport. Waiting. Then #StuckInLA.

People are darn good at listening, problem solving and taking care of customers. As a product manager remember that when humans use your beautiful shiny product the weather will act up, the person will not read and SHIT GONNA GO DOWN.

Your MVP will not have everything figured out. Design for the human touch. Design the “Intelligent Assistant”.

The AI we have is really good at logic, but it’s horrible at emotions. It’s horrible at gut instincts. I have not seen a computer be creative like a human can be creative because it’s not about logic. It’s creativity. — Tony Fadell

And… Hug your support team.