A new global study released by software company Pegasystems revealed that consumers are open to the promise of AI-powered customer experiences but need more transparency, data privacy, and a human-like touch to feel more comfortable with machine-powered interactions.
According to the survey of 6,000 consumers across six countries, nearly 70% of respondents are open to AI solutions assisting them in their daily life – for example, to save them time or money – and nearly 40% expect Artificial Intelligence to improve customer service in the future. But despite this potential, the report indicates that current AI experiences are falling short of consumers’ expectations, presenting an opportunity for companies to set themselves apart. Around 38% consumers said they don’t think AI delivers the same or better service than humans can today.
The survey identified three core areas that businesses need to address to help make AI a customer experience differentiator:
Bringing a more human-like touch
The study revealed a significant preference for human interaction over AI-powered experiences for customer service – making it imperative for businesses to better humanize their AI or supplement it with live agents. The most popular method to get help remains calling a human service agent (45 percent) – beating online chat (20 percent), social media (3 percent), or going into a store (15 percent).
When consumers do turn to online channels, nearly 80% want to chat with a real person, not with a machine. This sentiment was shared across all age groups, even with younger or digital native respondents.
88% of consumers demand businesses be transparent about how and when they deploy automated bots. To earn increased trust, the study suggests that businesses will need to be more open about where AI is currently being used while also showcasing how it improves the customer experience.
Ensuring data privacy
While a majority of consumers said they are open to using AI, only 27% are willing to give over their personal data to get better customer service. This presents a significant obstacle for organizations that need a steady stream of data to continuously learn and improve their AI systems. Businesses must continue to find ways to ensure data privacy to help customers be more comfortable with sharing information so they can experience the value of AI.
The survey also uncovered which industries consumers trust most using AI to interact with them. Retail topped the list with 34% of respondents saying they feel comfortable using AI in online retail situations for personalized product recommendations. 27% are open to a doctor using AI to help make a better diagnosis or recommendation about their health treatment. Consumers were least likely to trust the government, with only 10% open to it using AI.
The report surveyed consumers across the US, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia.
“AI is the future of customer experience but it is currently at a crossroads. Companies need to ensure their AI strategy is not treated as a novelty but rather is leveraged to dramatically change the way they engage with their customers at every touchpoint. As this study suggests, the promise of AI is there for the taking, but it’s now up to businesses to seize the moment,” said Don Schuerman, CTO and VP, Product Marketing, Pegasystems.